Not Like Any Other Sighthound

It’s an Afghan Hound thing.

The topline of these hounds is not like the topline of other breeds, and not even like other sighthounds. The short answer to “how?” is the unusual placement of their hips.

We’ve all seen those magnificent prominent hips. They should be on the same level as the withers, and are certainly higher on an Afghan Hound than on other dogs. They’re also wider apart. A rough rule of thumb is that the distance is about the width of a woman’s hand.

The “why” is simple. This construction enables the dogs to make quick turns and negotiate the uneven and rough terrain of the mountains in their homeland.

The longer answer is that Afghan Hound toplines don’t “flow” the way toplines do in most other breeds. The back should be level, well muscled, and of moderate length, and it should have those clearly defined hipbones and a sloping croup to allow for a low set and unique tail set.

The loin should be somewhat short, but straight and broad to allow for muscling, and this can make the back appear a bit roached over the loin. This, however, is not a roach back! An Afghan’s spine needs to remain level and sensibly rigid while the dog is gaiting, and flex only in the loin. Anything else results in an untypical and incorrect rotary action of the hindquarters. In a gallop is when the flexibility of the spine comes into play in a double suspension gallop specific to sighthounds. It’s awe-inspiring.

In an article by sighthound expert, Pat Ide, she notes that the Afghan Hound is the only domestic dog called upon to perform the double suspension gallop, the fastest gait of all, which, as it happens, is also used by the animals the dog pursues: Hares, antelopes, and other fast critters. Cool how that worked out….

Image: Afghan Hound/Deposit Photo

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