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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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Animals
25 Shelter Dogs Who Made It Big
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If you’ve been thinking of adding a four-legged friend to your brood and are deciding whether a shelter dog is right for you, consider this: Some of history’s most amazing pooches—from four-legged movie stars to heroic rescue dogs—were found in animal shelters. In honor of Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, here are 25 shelter dogs who made it big.

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This High-Tech Material Can Change Shape Like an Octopus
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Octopuses can do some pretty amazing things with their skin, like “see” light, resist the pull of their own sticky suction cups, and blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. That last part now has the U.S. Army interested, as Co.Design reports. The military branch’s research office has funded the development a new type of morphing material that works like an octopus’s dynamic skin.

The skin of an octopus is covered in small, muscular bumps called papillae that allow them to change textures in a fraction of a second. Using this mechanism, octopuses can mimic coral, rocks, and even other animals. The new government-funded research—conducted by scientists at Cornell University—produced a device that works using a similar principle.

“Technologies that use stretchable materials are increasingly important, yet we are unable to control how they stretch with much more sophistication than inflating balloons,” the scientists write in their study, recently published in the journal Science. “Nature, however, demonstrates remarkable control of stretchable surfaces.”

The membrane of the stretchy, silicone material lays flat most of the time, but when it’s inflated with air, it can morph to form almost any 3D shape. So far, the technology has been used to imitate rocks and plants.

You can see the synthetic skin transform from a two-dimensional pad to 3D models of objects in the video below:

It’s easy to see how this feature could be used in military gear. A soldier’s suit made from material like this could theoretically provide custom camouflage for any environment in an instant. Like a lot of military technology, it could also be useful in civilian life down the road. Co.Design writer Jesus Diaz brings up examples like buttons that appear on a car's dashboard only when you need them, or a mixing bowl that rises from the surface of the kitchen counter while you're cooking.

Even if we can mimic the camouflage capabilities of cephalopods, though, other impressive superpowers, like controlling thousands of powerful suction cups or squeezing through spaces the size of a cherry tomato, are still the sole domain of the octopus. For now.

[h/t Co.Design]

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