Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)
Blue Afghan Hound
Conni Miller 1965
The following content was published in three parts - Jan/Feb/Mch editions of Dog World in 1965
In recent British and Australian breed columns there have been some puzzling items about "blue Afghans", with some contributors actually inferring that this is an illegitimate color, unknown in Afghanistan, and probably developed through a sneaky modern cross with Greyhounds or Whippets. I could not restrain myself from diving into the fray, as I feel that this accusation is preposterous and a most unnecessary explanation of its occurrence in America. Perhaps I should explain to some readers that both "blue" and "brindle" Afghans are most uncommon in the United Kingdom. "Blue" has always been extremely rare (some say "unheard of") and the acknowledged brindle genes, common in the 30's, became completely extinct in the severe British breeding curtailment during World War II. Just recently a few brindles, and Afghans carrying "blue genes" were re-introduced into England from American sources. The new "colors" were given a charitable, if curious, welcome by most of the English fancy, and from there spread to Australia. It now appears that some of the American imports were not accepted completely without question.
In Australia, one fellow who claims intimate knowledge of Mary Amp's Ghazni hounds, has insisted that there were no "blues" among them, and that he had been unsuccessful in locating anyone who ever saw a "blue Afghan" in Afghanistan. As he does not believe that the early English stock included blue factors, and evidently does believe that all American Afghans stemmed from the same pioneer imports, he seriously questions the existence of this color from legitimate sources. This has stirred up quite a tempest. In researching my Afghan Hound book I have much incidental material on Afghan color, and while "blue" is the rarest color of the Afghan spectrum and not of specific interest too much of the fancy, some of the historical transportation facts may be of general value. The evidence clearly show that "blue genes" were imported into America directly from Afghanistan and India and, contrary to dissenting opinions, from some of the early imported British stock to come into America.
Before mentioning individual dogs we would like to suggest that the word "blue" generates its own confusion. The term is a romantic price-upper catch-all for any Afghan of conceivable gray shading, whether solid-colored, indistinctly mottled, or clearly brindled. In hue, these dogs range from dusty black to a dove gray approaching white. The darkest ones are clearly blacks, and hopefully called "blue" to increase their cash value by optimistic owners who hope they will lighten with age, as some have done.
Many "blues" contain tan shadings and tend to change color gradually in unsuccessful efforts to "clear" to some more definite shade. The many various so-called "blues" are of decidedly different genetic type, a high percentage of them being "blue-brindles" rather than solid clear grays. Some of these "blue brindles" do not even contain true "blue" genes, with the gray effects caused by the diffusion of intermingled light and dark hairs from the brindle pattern in the long coat.
Laurence Peters Saki of Paghman was the only actual visible clear gray import of her time, but she was not alone in producing gray or blue Afghans.
In 1936, Fatima, a bitch imported directly from India and owned by Caroline Richmond Hall, in California was bred to Ch Tufan of Ainsdart, owned by Amelia White in New Mexico. This ancient litter produced three early champions, including Ch Fatima's daughter Peri, who was described as a "blue bitch". Chances are that she was a blue-brindle rather than a clear gray, as her sire Tufan, was known to be a light gray and cream brindle. It is this Tufan of the early English imports, that had to be a conveyor of "blue genes" from England to America. The knowledge that he was "gray and cream brindle" indicates this, and his pale-cream colored son Ch Yusseff, plays a notable role in the background of various transmitters of "blues" the most notable being the great sire, Ch Taejon Of Crown Crest. Under Kay Finch the "blue genes" coming from "Johnnie" and those from Thief were merged, but Tufan also produced blue-factored pups with outside bitches (many, frequently, stemming back to Tufan). As the "blue-factored" dogs that were not visibly gray became mixed with black or brindle stock in subsequent generations "blues" continued to make rare and surprising appearances.
It is interesting to examine Tufan Of Ainsdart's pedigree, as he was a direct son of the great English pioneer hound. Ch Sirdar Of Ghazni, the strain from which, it is currently being claimed in some corners "blue" was unknown. It is highly possible that the "blue" factor came from Tufan's dam, a Bell-Murray brindle bitch. These lesser coated desert hounds were of rather faded pigmentation, being generally fawn or creams, with or without washed-out masking, except for the dark brindle bitch, Pushum. We can safely assume these faded gray-masked hounds were "blue-factored" and that no true "blues" were reported for the elementary reasons that the needed basic black genes did not happen to be part of the Bell-Murray spectrum. Black was known in the pioneer Ghazni hounds and cropped up in America from the earliest Prides Hill litters of Westmill Omar and Asra Of Ghazni imports in the 20's, there was not a single black English Afghan Champion until 1948 (the bitch Ch Netheroyd Turkuman Camelthorn). This would indicate very little breeding of black Afghans and good reason why "blues" had such little chance to crop up in Britain.
To get back to America. The black Ch Turkuman Nissim's Laurel, imported from England and stemming directly from the lone British black champion of the era, became immediately involved in the production of blue-grays for the Grandeur kennel of Sunny Shay, again suggesting that it was the greater occurrence of blacks and brindles in America that preserved more visibly blue-gray dogs.
By the way, it might also be well to remind readers that "blues" have turned up in several continental countries, not just in America. They are reported from Germany, Italy and elsewhere, sometimes as solid blues, other times as "blue and tans", or as the unusual "blue-domino". These continental "blues" in no way stemmed from America, but do share the same British roots of Ghazni hounds that we have here.
We might finish by going back to refute the original point of the man who insisted that "blue" was alien to the "Ghazni" strain for our final argument. We need only use the words of Mary Amps herself, for in a book printed in the 20's she tells of "...a pack of chinchilla hounds, grey with black points, kept by a Governor of a district near the Oxus. If hounds of any other color are born, they are thrown out of the pack...."
Khan of Ghazni, a fine honey-fawn-coloured hound came from this pack. I had one perfect chinchilla bitch sired by him, and I understand that a son of his Mustavi Of Ghazni... also sired a number of chinchilla hounds." Assuming that "chinchilla grey" is within the range of what we call "blue" today, and "gray with black eye-rims and nose leather, we have Amp's proof that "grey", rare as it is and always was, is a legitimate color from the time of the first sighting of Afghan hounds.
As a final word, I must say that I hope that these last few columns will not serve as an incentive for American breeders to go wild suddenly in attempts at breeding for "blues". These color factors still are rare, extremely difficult to control, often resulting in such unfortunate by-products as poorly pigmented creams with light noses, or gray-masked, washed-out fawn hounds that look old before their time. Of course, we do not mean to discourage those who do get "blues" as natural by-products of the color factors they have in hand, so long as their other prime concern is the production of superior conformation, temperament and type in Afghan color-breeding should always be a low second consideration under conformation requirements: This advice is as pertinent to those who deliberately breed only for "black-masked silvers" whose bright flash may bring price premiums (particularly among the novices).
Conni Miller, 1965
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