The Afghan Hound

Grooming Advice

Primarily a coursing hound, this aristocratic breed is an exercise in grooming patience and dedication. Laughingly, one experienced exhibitor explained to me that the coats tend to come in 3 types, way too much, just right and not enough! He also stated that there are 10:1 odds that you will have at least one of each.

Again there is the question of how much does one do to present a breed such as an Afghan and there are those countries who traditionally do less or more. Personally, I like to do as much as is allowed. This is one heck of a glamorous breed with a great air of arrogance required. I tend to think if he was human he would wear Armani.

As your Afghan coat must be allowed to develop naturally, apart from a light hand stripping on the saddle and perhaps the odd light twitch with the scissor around a stray hair or two on the feet, this breed does not advocate any artificial shaping such as clipping or trimming. However, when young, most have “monkey” whiskers. It’s not desirable to clip these but rather to hand pluck if you can persuade your independently minded Afghan to allow you to do so. Once plucked, they usually don’t return. So, savor those “spider monkey” days as they don’t stay there forever.

The hardest coats to maintain as puppies will be your Blacks or Black & Tans. They can appear dehydrated before the golds and creams so may need extra assistance such as an application of Plush Puppy Revivacoat diluted in a spray bottle for easier dispersion onto the coat at a ratio of a golf ball amount to 1 cup water. You can add Plush Puppy Blow Dry Cream at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 cup water to flatten the coat, when blow drying. Also add 2 tsp of Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil into the final rinse mix for a show bath.

Presenting some challenges to exhibitors are the old fashioned Black Masked Golds and sometimes the Blues when out of coat. They benefit from bathing in Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo at a ratio of 3:1 (3 parts water to one part shampoo) and an application prior to blow drying of Plush Puppy Volumising Cream at a ratio of 1 tbspn to 1 cup water. Use the whole of the mix. You can adjust this stronger or more diluted according to need.

However, most times the Afghan can be bathed with Plush Puppy Conditioning Shampoo with Evening Primrose at a dilution rate of 5:1. For extra shine use the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo at 5:1and to minimise rusty tones on a black coated Afghan use the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo at a dilution ratio of 5:1. This shampoo will not lighten or bleach but adds a tonal effect to the finish, deepening and reducing the unwanted overtones.

As Afghans have such a lot of products usually used on their coats, it does behoove the outcomes if every “pancake” day one uses a clarifying shampoo such as Plush Puppy Deep Cleansing Shampoo at a dilution ratio of 5:1 to remove all unwanted buildup on the hair. This will help bring the coat back to virgin status and allow you to start with a new playing field.

The quest with this coat is that each hair should flow without clumping or gathering. Each hair should appear light and individual without being stringy. It should never look oily or heavy. It must never look “pasted” down. The coat must bounce and lilt. You want it to swirl, swing and float with the dog’s movement and then fall exactly into place as did Ginger Roger’s skirt when she danced with Fred Astaire. We all know she had lead weights in the hem of her skirt but a light application on show day of Plush Puppy Coat Balm smoothed through from the mid lengths to the ends with an extra amount clumped onto the very tips of the coat will allow this illusion to be a reality.

To achieve the holy grail of Afghan coats, the final rinse for a show bath is the ultimate secret. There are those who have their own wonderful ways of doing things and this is mine garnered from many brilliantly successful people and able to be shared with you. Do not condition the saddle ever as it dulls the coat and gives rise to scurf. You can add conditioner such as Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner lightly to the ears & top knot and rinse well. For the body of the coat you add after shampooing, one cup of Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner, 1 tsp Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil plus 1 tbspn Plush Puppy Swishy Coat to 1 gal/4lt water and either sponge through thoroughly or use in a hydrobath. DO NOT RINSE OUT - LEAVE IN. You can adjust the proportions slightly as some coats will vary in texture. However, this is a starting base and appears to suit the majority.

If I can share one great maxim with you for the Afghan - it is to MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE. Having worked out what worked, you will want to be able to recreate it again. Measuring allows you do it each time or be able to adjust slightly from time to time.

The reason we do all the application of products at final rinse stage and do not rinse it out is because it is easier to disperse through such a lot of coat the products evenly, using this method rather than spraying as we dry and if one does a 2 step or 3 step routine such as conditioner, rinse, apply product for drying etc, then you can never gauge just how much conditioner to rinse out or how much as been left in. Consequently, there is an uneven amount left throughout the coat. The recommended method I have given is simple, quick and accurate in it’s even dispersion.

For maintenance bath, use 1 - 2 cups of the Conditioner and 2 tbsp of the Oil as a final rinse. Leave in to prevent matting. You can use the new Plush Puppy Coat Rescue at this point using 1 tbspn to the mix. You should wrap the ears using the Plush Puppy Revivacoat and a plastic bag and then a band or Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil and wrap with a cloth cleaning rag such as a Chux and secure with a wide band. As Afghans like to dunk their ears into water bowls, an old hand trick is to have a loose collar with two elastic bands attached at the rear of the collar and once the ears are wrapped, attach the ends of the wraps to the collar elastics. Voila, no more chewed ear wraps or wet yucky ears.

When drying for show day, use a Plush Puppy Pin Brush. I avoid slickers like the plague with any long coated breed. They are an Afghan’s worst friend. Never brush a dirty coat nor knots out of a dry coat at all - if it’s dirty or it’s knotted - bath it! Always blow dry with your Pin Brush till 7/8 dry at least then switch to an oval cushioned Plush Puppy Porcupine Brush. This is at least ½ plastic and ½ bristle to allow you to get that smooth finish.

For puppies, brush legs up and body coat down. For adults everything gets directed down.

There is a trend amongst some handlers to do a quiff shape on the top knot and to hold this raised up with one hand tilting it up when posing the dog. All things are personal choices.

Don’t forget the Plush Puppy Coat Balm prior to any last minute brushing on show day and if you need and prefer a show spray, use the Revivacoat diluted 1 golf ball amount to one cup water as an excellent non greasy hydrating spray. I also avoid bristle brushing on show day to avoid static in the coat.

Now it’s just the final titivating touches such as smelling good with Plush Puppy Odour Muncher, a light and judicial dusting of Plush Puppy Pixie Dust for subtle shimmer on the mid lengths and perhaps the saddle, and for some who are a little too aloof in the ring, at least an early morning dose of Plush Puppy Apprehension Drops. Can be used the night before as well.

Your Afghan is the King of Dogs - the rest of the world according to an Afghan is insignificant and no groveling, eager fools need apply. To watch this dog’s signature movement around the ring with a smooth springy lift with coat lilting and swinging and his elegantly curved tail raised for the action, it is no wonder we mere mortals collectively gasp in envy. This is a true blue blood of the dog world.

- Cheryl Le Court