Efficiency of gait can be defined as the minimum of energy expenditure relative to set distance traversed.
The trot is the gait employed in the show ring and comes in three forms the slow, medium and accelerated or flying trot. The Afghans construction is such that the slow trot invariably ends up being a paced gait as this is the more energy efficient at slower velocities.
The Trot can be best defined as the diagonal legs contacting the ground simultaneously, with the foreleg
guiding and the rear leg driving each stride. Closer examination shows the front foreleg is thrown forward in a reaching action. It then negotiates ground impact, as the rear offside hindquarter drives forward. Upon making ground contact the foreleg commences to drag backwards as the opposite side leg commences to gather up at this time the adjacent quarters commences a new stride.
The Quote “A strong rear will drive a dog a lot further than a good front will drag him” is correct, however never lose sight that correct reach, drag and drive is optimal compared to exaggeration of any form.
Balanced symmetrical gait is more desirable and efficient to inefficient high stepping over reaching or
pendulous high kicking rear action.
Afghan Gait “The UK standard calls for a smooth springy gait with a style of high order
A compensatory gait?. The UK Afghan standard calls for a gait different and unique to any other breed.
To understand why the Afghan gait is different one needs to understand the guidelines the standard provides.
The standard calls for a structural geometry full of exaggerations, “The back is moderate length, the loin
straight broad and rather short, a fair spring of rib and good depth of chest
”. Length to height ratio
is not provided in the UK standard, whereas the USA standard calls for bodies length to height at wither
be equal. "The shoulders long and sloping, well set back well muscled and strong without being loaded. Forelegs straight and well boned, straight with shoulders, elbows held in. The Hindquarter : Powerful, well bent and well turned stifles. Great length between hip and hock with a comparatively short distance between hock and foot”. From the limb descriptions we see these are well developed assemblies.
To establish the correct balance requires the aid of digital video this allows an unimpeded view of Afghan hounds in full striding action.
The Drawings provide the explanation for the smooth springy gait. The measured ratio of the video drawn Afghan hound is slightly shorter in length than height at wither. Though sketches employ a square skeletal structure.
Observe the drawings, draw your eye to the pastern, notice how upon contact with the ground the pastern stretches as it drags backwards lowering the overall height, until nearing the perpendicular, whereby the
pastern draws straight, elevating the animal, at this stage the front leg is drawn up, the front leg tucks up and back just in time for the oncoming rear leg , which continues the drive and maintains the elevation until gravity overtakes and the adjacent legs have well commenced the next stride. Excessive speed will only flatten the gait and cause crabbing, also make it near impossible for the eye to absorb the integrity of the gait. Coat will also help to confuse the issue. Slow the class down if needs be.
Observe the similarity of the fore and aft angles at their furthest extension, note the near parallel planes of the rear leg with the off side leg (images 1 & 9), these parallel planes are essential for symmetrical and balanced gait. Check the height off the ground of the front and rear feet, they should be similar when at their furthest extension and should complete each stride in unison.
The Afghan’s pastern is unique in how it stretches, generating the smooth springy or floating gait.
This is a compensatory gait, thus allowing well laid shoulders designed for high impact absorption and long well turned driving hindquarters coupled with a square or shorter body length to coordinate effectively.
This style of gait is a byproduct of this breeds evolutionary development resulting from its survival demands for remarkable speed and dexterity on rough terrain. It is not the most efficient of trotting gaits, though certainly a joy to behold when executed correctly in all its majesty....

Ultimate canine efficiency, is best appreciated by studying other desert sight hounds e.g.. The Saluki,
Sloughi or Azawakh. These standards call for moderation with little to no exaggeration contrary to the
Afghan Standard which requires exaggeration and great length of limb.

The mechanics of Afghan gait show a smooth rise and fall between strides. The rise commences as the front leg reaches the perpendicular. This is where the pastern draws tight, elevating the body. The rear leg drives the body forward in a continued trajectory until gravity overtakes. Now the oft foreleg makes contact with the ground gently collapsing the height as the pastern stretches, until this leg returns to the perpendicular, whereby the pastern commences its springy elevation cycle once more.
As coat obstructs vision of the limbs, learn to observe the patterns required which render this gait most effectively. Look for symmetry and cadence and the parallel planes. (See graphic explanation)

Author and Drafting : Terrence Wilcox

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