In the country from which the breed derives its name, the Afghan hound is regarded, though unofficially, as the ‘national’ dog. Native Afghans also uphold the belief that the Afghan is the dog portrayed on the cave walls in the northern province of Balkh, which is why the Afghan has also been called the Balkh Hound. The Afghan hound is a sight hound, rather than a hunter by scent. It has exceptional vision and great speed, both of which were used in the hunt for prey.
Its thick, luxurious coat protected it against the extreme cold of the upper snow regions, while also shielding it from the merciless sun as it roamed the desert. Its huge thickly padded paws and powerful hindquarters gave the Afghan hound equal ability to skim across hot desert sands or to scale rocky hilltops in mountainous terrain.