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RNSWCC Official Lecture to the Judge's Training Scheme
Wendye Slatyer (Calahorra Afghan Hounds, Australia)
AFGHAN HOUND AUSTRALIA NEWSLETTER
(VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1 SPRING 1996)
PUBLISHED BY SAHJOBE PTY LTD, 501 LAWS FARM ROAD, LOWER PORTLAND
NEW SOUTH WALES 2756, AUSTRALIA, TELEPHONE 61 45 791 266
FACSIMILE 61 45 791 255, EMAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org)
THE AFGHAN HOUND
Australia !! - first country in the Western World to see the Afghan Hound outside his natural habitat
The earliest mention of the Afghan Hound outside their native country is of a bitch Motee who was exhibited at Bristol in 1886. However, there are references to Afghan Hounds being in Australia as early as 1870, as they came on the sailing ships with the Afghanis who were brought out with their camels to help build The Overland Telegraph system from Port Augusta in South Australia to Darwin in the far north of what is now The Northern Territory.
The Afghan Hound has been known to Western Civilisation for over 100 years yet archaeological evidence of this genuinely old breed dates back at least as far as 2,200 BC. Marion Florsheim's article The Magnificent Afghan ( 1956) states they are the most primitive in form and at the same time, the most highly specialised of the existing canine varieties. Research claims that even a casual comparison of anatomical structure demonstrates the Afghan Hound as representing a more primitive stage of evolution than does any other of our domestic breeds, this apparent antiquity being linked with the retention of primitive specialised attributes, in which respect he stands alone among dogs.
That evidence was put forward in 1942 by Jackson K. Stanford, and we believe both judges and breeders have an enormous responsibility to PRESERVE the 'specialness' of the breeds with which they are involved. Of course every species must evolve and we all know we couldn't win now with dogs which resemble those in early books like Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopaedia, it being human nature to want to 'improve' on the original, bring it more into line with conventional thinking about anatomy, show temperament, glamour etc. but ....
An article in The Indian Gazette ( 1906), gives one of the first detailed descriptions to be published. It refers to Zardin, imported by Captain John Barff in 1907, who later became the model for the first official standard, issued in 1912. Zardin is described as "A light coloured hound, almost white, with a black muzzle. He has a very long, punishing jaw of peculiar power, and level mouth. His head resembles that of a deer hound, but with skull oval and prominent occiput, surmounted by a top knot, ears fairly large, well feathered and hanging to the side of the head rather than carried to the front. He has a keen, dark eye, and little or no stop. A long, strong, clean neck, fairly well arched, running in a nice curve to the shoulder, which is long and sloping and well laid back, his back is strong, loin powerful and slightly arched. He, as well as all this class of hound, falls away towards the stern (editor, tail), which is set on low, almost destitute of hair, and usually carried low. He is well ribbed, tucked under loin, fore legs straight and strong and covered with hair, great length between elbow (which is straight) and ankle. The forefeet are long, fairly broad and covered with long hair. Not too narrow in brisket, which is deep, with good girth of chest. Hindquarters very powerful, furnished with plenty of muscle, great length between hip and hock, which is low and strong, a fair bend of stifle, hind feet not so long as forefeet, but fairly wide and well protected with hair. The hindquarters, flanks, ribs and forequarters are well clothed with protective hair, thick and fine in texture, showing some undercoat. The coat on the back is shorter."
Kay Finch, whose contribution to Afghan Hounds via her famous Crown Crest kennels is inestimable, wrote an article entitled A Warning whose content will be quoted as it is relevant to our topics under discussion. She states..."How and when the Afghan Hound was brought to Afghanistan is unknown. However, the difference in terrain and severe climates resulted in our Afghan Hound of today. At the time of Moses, he was already a distinct breed and was used for coursing vicious game, including the leopard. Forbears of the Afghan Hound may have been the coursing dogs of the early Israelites and Egyptians. Records have been found indicating the existence of Afghanlike dogs on the Sinai peninsula and in The Valley of the Nile...."
Hutchinson's Dog Encyclopaedia states..."There is really no doubt that the Afghan Hound is one of the most ancient breeds in the world, so old, in fact, that the Afghan Shikaris claim that this was the breed favoured by Noah, and taken into the Ark with him. How far this may be true, history does not say, but there is every evidence that the type has not changed with centuries. Yet no man knoweth whence they came, but there they are and there they stay."
SO WHY HAVE WE DECIDED TO PRODUCE THIS NEWSLETTER? In Kay's article already referred to, she ended it with a paragraph written by a dedicated breeder of long ago, Dr. A. W. Combs..."Let us grow careless in breeding and the Afghan will lose his tremendous differences and gently slide back, to become like other dogs. We must guard against any tendency to lose top knot; to shorten legs; to raise hocks; to lose those picturesque hips; to raise too much coat or not enough; to lose that characteristic high head carriage with its accompanying high tail. To lose any of these would be disastrous and to lose many would be to lose our dog."
We also have an article titled The Afghan Greyhound which regretfully is not identified, but contains the statement..."The author does not think that these hounds will ever become of much utility in Great Britain; nevertheless it is advisable to encourage the improvement of a breed, no matter whether British or foreign in its origin...". In one from The Southern Afghan Hound Club by Marna Dods of the great Horningsea Kennels, entitled From Zardin to the Seventies, in the last paragraph she says ..."To sum it up, what have we lost? The aloof, truly Oriental hound with true springy gait. The eye shape and chiselling to a certain extent. The coat pattern, in particular the saddle. The correct feet. The bodies, due to bad rearing and lack of exercise and the ring tail. What have we gained? A friendly, glamorous status symbol, with 3005 registrations in 1971..."
Afghan Hound Australia Spring 1996
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