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10 Elegant Facts About the Afghan Hound

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These silky hounds are bound to turn some heads. Learn more about these elegant dogs. 

1. THEY'RE ONE OF THE MOST ANCIENT DOG BREEDS. 

This dog breed is so old, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where it originated. Legend has it that the Afghan hound was the dog rescued on Noah’s Ark. More likely, the dogs came over into Afghanistan with Alexander the Great’s army. (There are rock carvings showing the distinct-looking dogs in caves in Afghanistan to support this theory.) Many experts point to the saluki as the ancestor of the Afghan hound due to their closeness in appearance; both have been referred to as the Persian greyhound. 

2. THEY WERE USED TO HUNT. 

These graceful dogs might look like they were bred for a life of luxury, but originally they were used to aid hunters in the deserts and mountains of Afghanistan. Once on the chase, the dogs cornered animals (such as leopards) and kept them at bay until their owners could catch up. These clever dogs are capable of hunting and thinking independently, which means they need very little direction out in the field. 

3. THEY’RE AS FAST AS RACEHORSES. 

The average Afghan hound can reach speeds of up to 40 mph. For comparison, that’s about as fast as a purebred racehorse. The fastest horse in the world can only reach 43.97 miles per hour

4. IT’S ALL IN THE HIPS. 

The Afghan hound is not only quick, but also incredibly agile and able to turn on a dime. Their unusual hip placement—they are higher and wider apart compared to other breeds'—allows them to make quick turns and maneuver around the uneven terrain of the Afghani mountains.

5. THEY’RE SIGHTHOUNDS. 

The Afghan hound is a member of a group of slender dogs known as sighthounds. This group includes the greyhound, whippet, borzoi, and saluki. As the name suggests, they have great vision. These dogs have dolichocephalic heads, which gives them a field of vision of 270 degrees

6. THEIR SILKY COAT DOES MORE THAN LOOK STYLISH. 

The most distinctive feature of the Afghan is its long, flowing fur. The silky mane certainly looks regal, but it has a more important function: The fur keeps the dog warm even in the harsh Afghani climate. 

7. PICASSO WAS INSPIRED BY HIS.

Picasso's love of dogs is well-known. In the artist’s lifetime, he kept all sorts of breeds, from terriers to poodles. He was especially close with a dachshund named Lump, but his other favorite was his Afghan hound, Kabul. Kabul appeared in many of his paintings with his wife, Jacqueline, and his statue Tête (Maquette pour la sculpture en plein air du Chicago Civic Center) is inspired by Jacqueline, but features the long nose of his Afghan hound.   

8. BE GENTLE WITH THEM.

Afghan hounds are a sturdy breed and generally don’t have many health concerns; on average, they live to the ripe old age of 14 years. That said, they have a very low threshold for pain and will whimper at even the slightest injury. Keep that in mind while cutting your Afghan’s nails. 

9. ALWAYS KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON THEM. 

Afghans are sighthounds, and that means they like to run. Like other dogs in their class, if they see something they want, they will take off after it. It’s important to keep Afghan hounds in fenced-in areas or on a tight leash. It’s not uncommon for the dogs to run across the street without looking both ways. 

10. THEY SMELL.

Afghan hounds are also sometimes referred to as “the scented hound.” The dogs have scent glands in their cheeks that emit a pleasant, musky odor. 

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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