"What is a standard?", you may be asking. A standard is a formal, written description that outlines what a particular breed of dog is supposed to look like, move like, and behave like. In other words, it describes what makes an Afghan Hound different from, say, a Cocker Spaniel. Every AKC recognized breed has what is known as a parent club, which is made up of devotees to that breed. The members of a breed's parent club draft the standard for that breed, and they are the only ones that are allowed to make modifications to that standard. The standard is then given to the AKC, and is used by its judges as the basis for evaluating dogs at AKC dog shows.
The current Afghan Hound standard was drafted by the Afghan Hound Club of America and adopted by the American Kennel Club on September 14,1948:
General Appearance - The Afghan Hound is an aristocrat, his whole appearance is one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness or coarseness. He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past. The striking characteristics of the breed - exotic, or "eastern", expression, long silky topknot, peculiar coat pattern, very prominent hip bones, large feet, and the impression of a somewhat exaggerated bend in stifle due to profuse trouserings - stand out clearly, giving the Afghan Hound the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.
Head - The head is of good length showing much refinement, the skull evenly balanced with the foreface. There is a slight prominence of the nasal bone structure causing a slightly Roman appearance, the center line running up over the foreface with little or no stop, falling away in front of the eyes so there is an absolutely clear outlook with no interference; the underjaw showing great strength, the jaws long an punishing; the mouth level, meaning that the teeth from the upper jaw and lower jaw match evenly, neither overshot nor undershot. This is a difficult mouth to breed. A scissors bite is even more punishing and can be more easily bred into a dog than a level mouth, and a dog having a scissors bite, where the lower teeth slip inside and rest against the teeth of the upper jaw, should not be penalized. The occipital bone is very prominent. The head is surmounted by a topknot of long silky hair.
Ears - The ears are long, set approximately on level with outer corners of the eyes, the leather of the ear reaching nearly to the end of the dog's nose, and covered with long silky hair.
Eyes - The eyes are almond shaped (almost triangular), never full or bulgy, and are dark in color.
Nose - Nose is of good size, black in color.
Faults - Coarseness; snipiness; overshot or undershot; eyes round or bulgy or light in color; exaggerated Roman nose; head not surmounted by a topknot.
Neck - The neck is of good length, strong and arched, running in a curve to the shoulders which are long and sloping and well laid back.
Faults - Neck too short or too thick; an ewe neck, a goose neck; a neck lacking in substance.
Body - The backline appearing practically level from the shoulders to the loin. Strong and powerful loin and slightly arched, falling away towards the stern, with the hip bones very pronounced; well ribbed and tucked up in flanks. The height at the shoulders equals the distance from the chest to the buttocks; the brisket well let down, and of medium width.
Faults - Roach back, sway back, goose rump, slack loin, lack of prominence of hip bones; too much width of brisket causing interference with elbows.
Tail - Tail is set not too high on the body, having a ring or curve on the end; should never be curled over, or rest on the back, or be carried sideways, and should never be bushy.
Legs - Forelegs are straight and strong with great length between elbow and pastern; elbows well held in; forefeet large in both length and width; toes well arched; feet covered with long thick hair; fine in texture; pasterns long and straight; pads of feet unusually large and well down on the ground. Shoulders have plenty of angulation so that the legs are set well underneath the dog. Too much straightness of shoulder causes the dog to break down in the pasterns, and this is a serious fault. All four feet of the Afghan Hound are in line with the body, turning neither in nor out. The hind feet are broad and of good length; the toes arched, and covered with long thick hair; hindquarters powerful and well muscled with great length between hip and hock; hocks well let down; good angulation of both stifle and hock; slightly bowed from hock to crotch.
Faults - Front or back feet thrown outward or inward; pads of feet not thick enough; or feet too small; or any other evidence of weakness in feet; weak or broken down pasterns; too straight in stifle; too long in back.
Coat - Hindquarters, lands, ribs forequarters, and legs well covered with thick, silky hair, very fine in texture; ears and all four feet well feathered; from in front of the shoulders, and also backwards from the shoulders along the saddle from the flanks and ribs upwards, the hair is short and close forming a smooth back in mature hounds - this is a traditional characteristic of the Afghan Hound. The Afghan Hound should be shown in its natural state; the coat is not clipped or trimmed; the head is surmounted (in the full sense of the word) with a topknot of long silky hair - this is also an outstanding characteristic of the Afghan Hound. Showing of short hair on cuffs on either front or back legs is permissible.
Faults - Lack of a short-haired saddle in mature dogs.
Height - Dogs, 27 inches, plus or minus one inch; bitches, 25 inches, plus or minus one inch.
Weight - Dogs, about 60 pounds; bitches, about 50 pounds.
Color - All colors are permissible, but color or color combinations are pleasing; white markings, especially in the head, are undesirable.
Gait - When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in his smooth powerful stride. When on a loose lead, the Afghan can trot at a fast pace; stepping along, he has the appearance of placing the hind feet directly in the footprints of the front feet, both thrown straight ahead. Moving with head and tail high, the whole appearance of the Afghan Hound is one of great style and beauty.
Temperament - Aloof and dignified, yet gay.
Faults - Sharpness or shyness.