Clara Bowring's Larkbeare (India/UK) Afghan Hounds
(by Steve Tillotson,2011, 2012,2019)
In May 2011 I wrote an article for the Canine Chronicles on the subject of Clara Bowring and her Larkbeare (UK) Afghan Hounds, Click here to view the article (pdf format). This was a very time consuming and challenging project because so little is written in the breed about Ms Bowring. Research took several months and I had to go out of country and into other breed (historians) to obtain information and photos included in the linked Canine Chronicles article.
Update 15/5/2012 - I am very excited to have received from Patricia Egan, Ascent Afghan hounds (Australia) a photograph of Ms Bowring and two of her Larkbeare Afghan Hounds. This is the first photograph I have ever seen of Larkbeare Afghan hounds. So a big thank you to Patricia for sharing.
Shahjehan Of Larkbeare was a well traveled hound.. Exbibited first by his breeder in India, then by Clara Borwring in the UK and then his USA importer, Sarah Waller (Elenor Kennels, Chicago) who exhibited him at Westminter Kennel Club on the east coast, St Francis Drake Show, San Francisco, west coast, and everywhere in between.. Allthough not a contributor to our pedigree history, Shah Jehan did contribute much by his states-wide visibility at shows in the early days before the breed was established in the USA. Also Shah Jehan holds the distinction of being the first Afghan Hound to go BOB at Westminster KC, which occured in 1927, the first year the breed was exhibited at WKC. Shah Jehan also hold the distinction of being the first Afghan Hound bred in India being exporterd (via UK eventually) to the USA. The two othr famous Indian imports are - Fatima (Caroline Hall Richmond) and Umberto (Venita Vardon Oakie)
Ms. Bowring, is very typical of the
aristocracy that established numerous
dog breeds in England in the early twentieth
century. Clara Mary Aloysia
Bowring (1893-1980), was a daughter of
Lewin Bowring (1824–1910) who was Private
Secretary to Lord Canning, Governor-
General of India 1858, Chief
Commissioner of Mysore and Coorg
1862. Ms. Bowring was the granddaughter of Sir John Bowring, (1792-1872) Governor of Hong Kong
1854-1859. Ms. Bowring is descended from two generations
of diplomats, who on behalf of the UK Government ruled
entire countries or provinces thereof.
Other early Afghan Hound pioneers included various
military notables such as Major Mackenzie, importer of
Afghan Hound “Shahzada” in 1888, a hound reputedly
owned by the Shah Of Persia (and available to view in the
British Museum along with Moroo, another Afghan
Hound imported by Major Mackenzie), Capt. Cary-Baynard,
importer of “Afghan Bob” in 1902, Capt. John Banff,
importer of “Zardin” in 1907, the Afghan Hound upon
which the breed standard is based, Major Bell Murray
and Ms. Jean Manson importers of the “Bell Murray” line
of Afghan Hounds in 1921, Capt. Carpentier, importer of
Ms. Bowring’s Larkbeare Afghan Hounds in 1924, and
Major and Mary Amps, importers of the “Ghazni” line of
Afghan Hounds in 1925. Most of these military officers
were deployed in India or the North West frontier between
India and Afghanistan (this is pre partitioning of
India into India and Pakistan) and they had firsthand experience
of native hounds.
In that era and with the English class system of the
early twentieth century, military officers had a high social
standing, and usually came from “good families”,
with the “right breeding”, and went to the “right school”. Their overseas
exploits captured the
imagination of the public
and when they returned
to England they
brought with them various exotic things, including
dogs. Such military people were deemed “experts” on
foreign dog breeds, largely because nobody else in England
had any firsthand experience of these dogs or
knowledge of their native lands.
Ms. Bowring was born into such a legacy. In her case
an exceptional legacy, particularly that of her grandfather
Sir John Bowring. Undoubtedly Ms. Bowring would have
been an established figure amongst the higher social
classes of the day.
One only has to look at the “Patrons” of The Kennel
Club at the beginning of the twentieth century to see a list
that is full of the nobility and military officers. The Kennel
Club was itself founded by a “group of gentlemen”.
Many breeds emerged and became established by virtue
of “gentlemen’s activities” such as Fox Hunting (eg; Foxhound),
Game Shooting (eg; Gundogs/Retrievers).
Ms. Bowring was a founding member of the first
Afghan Hound breed club – “The Afghan Hound Club”
(1925) which also drew up the first breed standard. The
UK Kennel Club gave the Afghan Hound formal recognition
and individual classification in 1925. The AKC first
registered Afghan Hounds in 1926.
For a National Kennel Club to recognize a new breed,
several essentials are required to be in place which includes:
sufficient number of registrations and entries at
shows to justify a separate and individual breed classification,
consistency of type so that the breed is instantly
recognizable, the existence of a breed standard, etc. For
sure in 1925 there was no consistency of type in Afghan
Hounds in the UK.
Ms. Bowring imported
two Afghan Hounds which she selected
during a visit to India in 1924 -
Shahjehan Of Larkbeare, bred by Capt Carpentier
in India and Jahanara Of Larkbeare
(breeder, pedigree unknown). Shahjehan
was eventually exported to the USA but he
does not figure in the American pedigree
history. Records indicate that Ms. Bowring
only bred one litter of Afghan Hounds from
the above two imports. All other Larkebeare
Afghan Hounds appear as breeder, pedigree unknown.
Update July 2012 - we have found a news archive (see below) that provides further information
about the origins of Ms Bowrings's Larkbeare Afghan hounds -
|Shah Jehan of Larkbeare, Reno, NV, 1929|
hindsight, perhaps Ms. Bowring had become more interested
in other breeds, or her housing situation inhibited her
managing the larger breed of the Afghan Hound and encouraged
her to be attracted to the smaller coated breeds.
I mention housing above because a feature of Ms.
Bowrings life was that she did not appear to have a longterm
or permanent personal residence. In 1925/1927, she
lived in Ascot (on the edge of West London, not far from
Windsor Castle) or in the county of Hampshire, just south
of London. Through the 1930s she lived in a variety of hotels,
typically close to Westminster, London (remembering
her family connections to Westminster, the seat of the UK
Government, was this place of residence significant?) or
Chelsea, still in London but a little further west. My ESSC
research contact pointed out that fact that Ms. Bowring always
seemed to give her address as a hotel. She was a
wealthy woman and could have afforded to purchase her
own residence, and the fact that she spent so many years
living in hotels may well have been the reason she did not
breed extensively, or partnered with others who had breeding
and kennel facilities.
Whilst on residences, let us consider the name “Larkbeare”
which is a small town in Exeter in the west of England.
The Bowring family originated in the town of
Larkbeare and named their house “Little Larkbeare”. Interestinglyin the two homes that
Ms. Bowring lived (Ascot and
Hampshire) she named her
houses “Little Larkbeare”.
Clearly she had great affection for
the name and adopted the name
of Larkbeare for her Kennel.
It would appear that Ms. Bowring’s first breed was actually
the Shetland Sheepdog (Sheltie). The first Sheltie
Champion was made up in 1915. Ms. Bowring was owner
of the 4th Sheltie Champion of record - Larkbeare Rusk in
1924 (the same year she acquired her first Afghan Hounds).
|Ms Bowring at EESC Ch Dog Show 1952|
Whilst we don’t know what, if any, influence Ms.
Bowring had in the process of the Afghan Hounds recognition
by The Kennel Club, other than her being a founding
member of the AHC which drew up the first breed standard
in 1925, we do know what influence she had in getting the
AKC to register Shelties imported from the UK.
Shelties were first registered in March 1909 by The Kennel
Club as ‘Shetland Collies” but following protests from
Collie people, the breeds name was changed to “Shetland
Sheepdog” in October 1909. Shelties first arrived in the USA
in 1908 and were recognized by the AKC in 1911. Because
English breeders had introduced a Collie cross into the
breed and KC export pedigrees included the word Collie in
the name of the dogs in the pedigree, the AKC would not
register imported Shelties from the UK with the word Collie
in the pedigree. The AKC view was that the UK breed was
a Collie cross and not purebred. At this time there were only
two breedable Shetland Sheepdogs in the USA!
Catherine Coleman Moore (Sheltieland Kennels, USA)
visited England, and joined forces with Miss Clara
Bowring. They discussed the situation with the KennelClub who agreed to remove the word Collie from Shetland
Sheepdog export pedigrees and thus enabled the AKC to
thereafter recognize UK Sheltie imports.
Ms. Bowring’s Sheltie bitch Larkbeare Apricot Flan was
exported to Sweden in 1931 and was mated with another
UK import - S Ch. Connis of Redbraes. The resultant litter
produced the first homebred Swedish Sheltie champion - S
& DK Ch. Shepherd’s Butterfly. A tangible legacy of Ms.
Bowring’s Larkbeare kennels in Europe.
Ms. Bowring was Secretary of the English Shetland
Sheepdog Club from 1929 through 1948, after which she became
Chairman. Catherine Coleman Moore was founding
member of the American Shetland Sheepdog Club, its first
secretary, and she registered the first litter of Shelties
recorded by the AKC.
Ms. Bowring was exhibiting her
Afghans mid-1920s and exhibiting
Shelties throughout the decade into the
1930s. By commencement of the 1930s
Ms. Bowring was also exhibiting
Miniature Poodles. In 1934 she was exhibiting
her home-bred Miniature Poodle
Larkbeare Blue Spark.
We need to return to Shelties because
we need to return to “the aristocracy”.
Ms. Bowrings cousin, Mrs. Lumsden,
was an important and successful
Sheltie breeder from the earliest days. I
don’t think the Lumsdens matched the
Bowrings in terms of service achievements
for HM Government, but they
probably exceeded the Bowrings in
terms of wealth. Clova is a small village
in the highlands of Aberdeenshire in
Scotland. Dare I suggest again that
such a family pedigree would have been helpful in pursuit of getting things done in the world of
Ms. Bowring and Mrs. Lumsden were partners and
shared the Larkbeare affix. Mr. Lumsden was one of the
first people to bring Shetland Sheepdogs from the Island
to the mainland. We include a photograph of Ms. Bowring
and Mrs. Lumsden at Clova. The Lumsden family tree
traces back to the year 1098 in Scotland.
Ms. Bowring also became involved in Miniature Poodles
and was part of the group that drew up the initial “definition”
for the breed. Ms. Bowring bred and exhibited poodles
from the early 1930s. She wrote or co-authored a total
of 6 books about the Poodle.
As well as all the achievements above, Ms. Bowring has
some other achievements we should mention. Ms. Bowring
was Sheltie Breed Columnist for the UK weekly canine
newspaper Our Dogs. She was Chairman of the Ladies Division
of The Kennel Club for several years. She judged
Afghan Hounds at Crufts 5 times between 1929-1955. She
judged Shelties at Crufts at least 3 times between 1929-1950.
That judging record is itself astonishing. Few Breed Judges
get to judge their breed(s) at Crufts more than once.
I’m going to close with an anecdote from Ms. Rogers of
Riverhill Shelties who wrote the memorial for the ESSC
magazine following Ms. Bowrings death in 1980 – “Clara
had a great interest in a Boys Club in the East End Of London.
It was while she was working there that she told us a
story that made us laugh. One Monday
morning one of the ‘cleaning ladies’ appeared
with the most dreadful black
eye. Clara remarked on this and asked
how she had got it and was told that
the woman's husband had given her
one on Saturday night. Clara said,
.‘Well, I think perhaps I am better off
not having a husband’. ‘Perhaps you
are,’ replied the cleaner, ‘if you can ever
get over the dreadful shame of it!’”
Acknowledgements: I am indebted to
Stuart Gruszka, Hon Sec. – ESSC and
Dick Thorley (Felthorn Kennel UK) for
providing valuable information and photographs
used in the preparation of this
article, and also to Molly Windybank,
Chairman – The Standard Poodle Club
(UK) for providing valuable information.
Shahjehan of Larkbeare, Crufts 1925
Shahjehan Of Larkbeare
- Westminster 1927/28
Afghan Hounds In India
Afghan Hound on Shrine in Nepal, Indial
Go To Early Afghan Hounds Page
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