Scratch Dog or Not – Are Afghan Hounds Hypoallergenic?

Dignity and elegance personified the Afghan hound is an aristocratic breed with an ancient history but this proud beautiful dog has much more going for it than its stunning looks.

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With more and more Americans breaking out in hives or reaching for the tissues when coming into contact with man's best friend, never has the subject of hypoallergenic dog breeds been more popular.

While no dog is completely allergy-free some are more compatible than others and with more hypoallergenic dog breeds than you can shake a stick at it can become confusing when looking for the perfect pooch.

Surprisingly the non-shedding Afghan makes an excellent choice for allergy sufferers, the long flowing coat needs regular maintenance but it's a small price to pay for a sniffle-free existence and this graceful sweet-tempered hound makes an affectionate, loyal family pet.

Is It True, Are Afghan Hound Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The Afghan Hound bucks the trend when people ask, "are hounds hypoallergenic?" (most aren't) Many people presume it is the dog's hair that causes the problem but the hair is really only a carrier, dander, saliva, dust, pollen all attach to your pet's fur and in a heavy-shedding dog this is then distributed around the home. The Afghan Hound dog breed sheds little, therefore the spread of allergens in kept to the minimum and in most cases, is manageable. So, yes Afghan Hounds are hypoallergenic.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

The internet is full of conflicting information and never more so than when discussing hypoallergenic dogs, with folks getting in a right old "tiz", declaring there is no such thing. The thing is, hypoallergenic does not mean non-allergenic it means a reduced chance of a reaction for the sufferer. There are a number of breeds that fit the criteria and can quite happily share an itch-free existence with the 10% of Americans suffering from pet allergies.

3 Reasons Why the Afghan Hound is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

1

Because the Afghan Hound's coat is hair, similar to humans, they shed much less than other breeds which is beneficial to people who suffer from allergies.

2

The distinctive coat doesn't need to be left long, in fact most owners who do not show their dogs have them clipped meaning even less shedding.

3

The Afghan can seem aloof, however while loyal and affectionate they are not as attention-seeking as some of the smaller hypoallergenic toy dog breeds who are constantly up in your face demanding kisses.

Afghan Hounds and allergies - What should I do?

The key word here, is research. There are no guarantees where dogs and allergies are concerned so caution is required before rushing out to enquire about the first classified you see advertising Afghan Hound puppies for sale.

Afghans can and do trigger allergic reactions in some, so you need to spend time with the breed and discuss management of symptoms with your allergist in case they do occur. Many people who suffer no reaction to puppies start to have problems as they mature.

​Another thing to consider is your lifestyle and environment. These dogs may have Hollywood glamour but they are not for everyone, an Afghan Hound is a big commitment so be honest with yourself. Can you be the owner they deserve?

​A couple of things that could help you make that decision include;

  • Contacting the Afghan Hound Club of America is a great starting point they are knowledgeable about the breed and can connect you with regional clubs, owners and breeders.
  • It is rare for a dog show not to have these stunning dogs present, go online and search for local shows, preferably breed specific to spend time with these dogs and their owners.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Give your Afghan Hound a wipe down outside after every walk this will prevent any allergens he has picked up on his coat being taken inside the home.
  • Pay close attention to cleaning your floors, vacuum daily preferably using a cleaner which has a HEPA filter and for hard floors it would be advisable to invest in a steam mop which also can be used on a daily basis.
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    Keep your home clutter-free, the more stuff there is the more places for those pesky allergens to cling too. Be especially careful of soft furnishings, rugs, throws, curtains and cushions should be kept to the minimum.
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    Wash your dog's bedding regularly on a hot cycle or consider a wipe clean hypoallergenic dog bed.
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    Consider an allergy medication, over the counter anti-histamines can reduce symptoms meaning you can enjoy your canine companion without having a sneezing fit, runny nose or wheezing.

All about the Afghan Hound - Origin of the Breed

The Afghan Hound is considered to be one of the oldest and most pure, breeds of dog. Although said to have originated in Afghanistan, because it is a basal breed, that is; one that pre-dates the modern dog and dates back to centuries before Christ, little is known of its exact origin.

A Sighthound, the Afghan or Persian Greyhound was bred to hunt, deer, gazelle and wild boar while it's gentle nature meant it could also be used to guard livestock for the many nomadic tribes that travelled through the Middle-East and Asia.

​The first ones imported to the UK in the 1920s were given as gifts by the Afghan royal family and the breed came to the US in 1926, being recognized by the AKC the same year. Zeppo Marx, one of the famous Marx brothers was one of the first to introduce the breed.

​Always beloved by the dog show fraternity and celebrities including Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Jayne Mansfield and Marianne Faithful, their popularity soared in the late 1970's when Mattel released an Afghan Hound as Barbie's pampered pooch, Beauty, capturing the hearts of millions of little girls across the country. Nowadays they are not so common being ranked #113 by the American Kennel Club.

General Appearance

If you walk into a room with an Afghan Hound people will notice, they are not known as "the king of dogs" for nothing. They are a large dog standing around 24"-29" and weigh between 40-60lbs. They have a straight back, extended well-muscled neck and long skull with a pronounced topknot.

They have a what is sometimes called an oriental expression as if looking through you, many have a dark facial mask. They are an extremely agile dog with a smooth powerful gait and a tail that should should be sparsely feathered and have a curl at the end. Of course, the most distinctive feature of this breed is the coat.

The single coat is long, thick and silky yet fine in texture in most pictures of Afghan Hounds we see it falling straight to the floor, however if you are not going to be entering competitions with your hound it is perfectly acceptable to keep the hair short. The Afghan comes in a wide variety of colors with the most common being black, golden and red.

Temperament

The Afghan Hound is an independent thinker and as such is not as eager to please as some breeds like all hounds he will consider what is in it for him before obeying a command. That being said, he is a sweet-tempered, loyal companion. The breed is often said to be standoffish and aloof and while they do have an air of disinterest they can also be quite comical and playful.

Brave and alert they make good watchdogs but are extremely sensitive souls and do not do well in rowdy, loud households. The can be stubborn but are not a dominant breed. They need lots of physical and mental stimulation to prevent boredom and an enclosed space to play. They have a strong prey drive, are excellent jumpers and run like wind 3 reasons they should not be let off leash.

With early socialization and training to prevent timidity and shyness they should be confident and happy. Sometimes difficult to housebreak, this can be a problem for the allergy sufferer as urine contains proteins that can cause a reaction, they need calm persistent training. If you get this right you will end up with a well-mannered majestic dog that will really turn heads.

Source: 101Dogbreeds.com

Health​

The Afghans life expectancy is between 12-14 great for a large dog, and they are generally considered a healthy breed. However as with all breeds there are certain conditions that can affect them and it is advisable to be aware of the main ones which include:

  • Cancer- Afghans have a high risk of contracting cancer particularly Trichilemmoma which are hair follicle tumors, while most are benign the condition is thought to be inherited so dogs with the condition should not be used for breeding.
  • Dilated Cardiomyopathy - Mainly found in large breeds this condition is a weakening of the heart muscle eventually resulting in enlarged heart chambers and leading to congestive heart failure.
  • Afghan Myelopathy - Unique to the breed this genetic condition usually presents at around 12 months, it is a degenerative disease of the spine that eventually leads to paralysis.
  • Central Diabetes Insipidus - is the inability of the kidneys to retain water and a recent study of 2 Afghan puppies suggested the condition could be inherited. The good news is as with us humans Diabetes can be managed with drugs.
  • Glaucoma - Particularly upsetting in a sighthound this condition causes increased pressure in the eye and is extremely painful. Without immediate treatment, it can result in blindness.
  • Cataracts - Afghans are prone to hereditary cataracts so always ask a breeder for eye health certification.
  • Hypothyroidism - Between 12% -40% of Afghan Hounds suffer from lower thyroid levels than normal.
  • Chylothorax - This is more common in the Afghan Hound than other breeds and it is a condition where the chest cavity fills with a milky fluid called chyle, while cases are rare it requires immediate treatment as it is life-threatening.
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency - A digestive disorder the dog does not produce enough enzymes leaving him unable to absorb nutrients. This is treated with digestive supplements.
  • Hip Dysplasia - As with all large breeds this condition can occur and breeders should have any breeding dogs tested and hip-scored.
  • Allergies - Many single coated dogs are prone to skin allergies and the Afghan is no exception, fleas, dust, pollen, food and certain household chemicals can be a problem for this sensitive breed.

It is worth noting that sighthounds have certain features, including low body fat, that predispose them to problems with Anesthesia and a higher risk of mortality. So, if your Afghan Hound should require surgery it is worth discussing the options with your vet who should be familiar with the Greyhound Anesthesia Protocol.

Food

As mentioned above the Afghan Hound can suffer from digestive problems and allergies so it is advisable to feed the best quality food you can afford that is formulated to provide the nutrients required for large breeds. Avoid food that contains:

  • Meat by-products
  • Artificial Coloring/Flavoring
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    Fillers
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    Wheat

Afghans can also be quite finnicky where food is concerned so you may find you need to mix it up to keep them interested try adding egg, cottage cheese and the addition of probiotics can also be helpful. Be careful about the amount you feed depending on activity it is easy to overfeed this breed which can result in health problems. Afghans have a propensity for stealing so keep an eye out if you leave food on the worktops. Feeding the correct diet to your four-legged friend will ensure they lead a long, healthy, happy life.

Source: Pinterest

Finding A Good Afghan Hound Breeder​

Afghan hounds are more often bred for showing rather than pets which makes them quite hard to find so you will need to be prepared to wait for the perfect puppy and they don't come cheap especially if they have champions in their pedigrees.

The breed, as mentioned, can be sensitive so finding a good breeder is vital, not only to ensure a healthy Afghan puppy but also one with a confident, laid-back temperament. Early socialization is essential with this breed otherwise they can be timid or shy.

A good place to start your search is the Afghan Hound Club of America, they can give you information about regional clubs and breeders. Another option is to go online and join breed specific groups and forums this way you can obtain recommendations for breeders and get the heads-up when a litter is expected.

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching an Afghan Hound Breeder​

  • Most reputable breeders of Afghans will be involved with some form of competition either showing or lure-coursing, this gives them the incentive to develop the breed and produce better dogs. If they are not involved with some sort of breed club it is a sign they may be breeding just for the money.
  • Having a flashy website is no guarantee the puppies will be healthy and happy always visit the premises so you can see in what environment the puppies have been raised.
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    Never buy a puppy without the proper documentation it is inexpensive to register puppies with the AKC so not doing so begs the question, why? Perhaps the dam has been bred too young or has had too many litters, maybe the breeder has broken the rules or regulations or doesn't perform the recommended health screening.

Adopting an Afghan Hound from a Rescue or Shelter

Puppies can be hard work they need a lot of time and patience and be honest with yourself do you have a lifestyle that will enable you to make that commitment? Afghans can also be difficult to housetrain and this can cause problems for the allergy sufferer as urine can trigger symptoms, with all this in mind you may consider adoption.

Finding an Afghan Hound for adoption in your local shelter will be as rare as hen's teeth, so if you do wish to go down this road you have 2 options; either contact the Afghan Hound Club of America who will be able to put you in touch with a regional breed specific Afghan Hound Rescue or use the internet. As when searching for an Afghan Hound breeder, owners and breeders in forums and online groups often know of dogs that are available.

Adopting a rescue dog can be very rewarding, yes, some rescue dogs can have issues but the majority are in the situation through no fault of their own.​

How Much Will an Afghan Hound Set You Back?

This breed doesn't come cheap, unless you adopt an Afghan Hound where you could pay a fee of $100-$400 a purebred Afghan puppy will cost anything between $800-$3000. This will depend on conformation lines, locality and sex.

For this price, you should receive a healthy Afghan puppy with a copy of their pedigree, health screening results and sales contract, many breeders will agree to take the puppy back or arrange a new home if you are unable to care for it or you develop an allergic reaction in the future (It does sometimes happen) The puppy will have had its first shots, be vet-checked and wormed. You should receive information on the dog's diet, upbringing and future care. Most reputable breeders will want to be kept informed about the puppy as it grows and offer ongoing support.​

Source: Pinterest

It's a Wrap

The glamourous Afghan certainly attracts attention but these beautiful dogs are a long commitment and don't fit into every household. Aloof and reserved with strangers, these quiet dogs are generally good with children and other dogs, though not small furries.

They are athletic and can jump a garden fence with ease if they see a squirrel. They need a lot of exercise and their coat is no picnic either, needing regular grooming to keep that supermodel look.

The good news is; they are loyal, loving and gentle and more importantly for those who would love to own a dog without developing a nasty rash or experiencing shortness of breath the Afghan Hound is hypoallergenic. They shed minimally and with a few precautions are unlikely to cause a reaction for mild to moderate allergy sufferers.​

John Devlin
 

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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