Afghan Shepherds are categorized under the category of herding dogs, and it can also be deemed as a guard dog and a working dog. Afghan Shepherds are also known as Kuchi Dogs. Commonly associated with nomad life in regions of Afghanistan, they are used mainly to herd flocks of livestock and to protect them from predators and thieves.
Afghan Shepherds have a general height range of 32 to 41 inches (81 – 104 centimeters), with measurements dependent on gender, and an average weight range of 84 to 140 pounds (38 – 63 kilograms) for females and 120 – 176 pounds (54 – 80 kilograms) for males. They have an average lifespan of 10 – 12 years.
The history surrounding Afghan Shepherds is minimal, and they lack information on their genetic roots. The Afghan Shepherd, however, is an old breed; most likely developed centuries before dog breeding records were thought to be kept. Afghan Shepherds can be found in Central and Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and surrounding regions in Central Asia. They are said to be related to the Central Asian Ovtcharka.
Afghan Shepherds are big dogs, but they do come in a few variants. The mountain-type Shepherds have a bear-type skull, and are the biggest boned variant of the Afghan Shepherd. Like the other variants, the mountain-type has a long and thick neck, straight tails, and cropped ears. The steppe-type Shepherd has more of a wedge/brick-type skull, and are of much lighter build compared to the mountain-type. The desert-type Shepherd can possess characteristics of either of the other types.
Coats can be short, medium, or long, depending on what the Shepherd’s variant is. Mountain-types will have longer coats in order to aid in the adaptation of colder climates, steppe-types will have medium to long coats, and desert-types will have short to medium length coats as they live in a hotter climate.
Afghan Shepherds are vigilant dogs, as they are trusted to keep camps and caravans safe, as well as keeping livestock in check. They are also extremely hardy, able to withstand extreme climates (ranging from mountainous climates to deserts) and minimal food rations. Afghan Shepherds pack lots of ferocity, strength and stamina, necessary in order to help protect and herd the Kuchi people’s livestock.
Although Afghan Shepherds can come to be very affectionate and friendly with their owner and their owners’ families, they are also very independent dogs, and will often be prone to aggression towards other breeds, even humans that trespass on their territory. When prompted, Afghan Shepherds can be very vocal in their displeasure. As a result, they are not recommended as dogs for people with a Western lifestyle.
General Care & Health
The coats of Afghan Shepherds should be brushed regularly even though the breed is known to be self-dependent when it comes to grooming. If the Afghan Shepherd is a variation with longer hair, take care to remove matting and tangles from the fur during grooming. If grooming turns out to be too tough of a chore, a groomer can be hired to take care of the task. Their ears should be checked weekly and cleaned with a cotton ball and a cleanser obtained through a vet. Cotton swabs should not be stuck in the ear as it may lead to damage in the ear canal. Teeth should be brushed two to three times a week at the very least, and nails should be trimmed once or twice a month. Check for signs of infection whenever the Afghan is groomed, keeping an eye out for redness and inflammation of the skin, eyes, nose and mouth.
The recommended daily amount of food an Afghan Shepherd should be getting is 3 to 4 cups of dry food, divided into two meals throughout the day. Despite the presence of a guideline, the amounts can be altered if the dog is highly active or otherwise.
The Afghan Shepherd is a generally healthy breed, as they were not subjected to selective breeding; instead they were bred for their characteristics and abilities rather than their looks. With appropriate exercise and good nutrition, the Afghan Shepherd should stay quite healthy.
The Afghan Shepherd is a very work-oriented breed, and will most likely demand some sort of work for them to do in order to prevent boredom. They are very loyal and gentle to their owner and their owner’s family, but are inherently suspicious of strangers and quite territorial. As such, this breed is not suited for city/Western life.
Photo by Sabawoon Nezami - CC BY-SA 3.0