What is the correct type?
Letters to the Editor of "Dog World" (UK) and "Our Dogs" (UK)
Letters - Courtesy of E Banks
To the Editor "Dog World"
A great deal of correspondence lately has been published Afghan Hounds. As I gathered the hounds brought home in 1920 by Miss Jean C Manson, it has interested me very greatly, and I hope you will allow me a short space to give my experiences in connection with this unique breed. I lived on the extreme frontier of India from 1904 to 1920 and was always during that long period very interested in Eastern hounds and owned very many different kinds, mostly Arabian Greyhounds, now called Saluki's. I had a very large illustration of Zardin, who incidentally did not come from Afghanistan at all, but from a place called Chagai, hundreds of miles from Afghanistan in the Mekram (Persian) country. The hound so fascinated me that I endeavored to find them for myself, and I got several trusted agents to travel for me in search of them, not only in Afghanistan, but Persia and the large expanse of "no man's land" which lies all around north and south of Lake Helmund, in fact anywhere where I thought it was possible to get them, and I traveled in most of these countries myself.
It was not until 1912 that I got the first, what I considered a perfect specimen "Begum", a pure white bitch with the perfect fine head, stately carriage, perfect feet and with the coat of that wonderful texture so different to the coat of all other dogs, something of the type of wooly silk. Although I had many hounds brought to me from all over parts of the country, I only succeeded in getting nine hounds over the long period 1912-1920, which were the origin of Miss Manson's kennel, and were brought to this country. At the time I spared time, trouble or expense in getting the true type and I was constantly traveling in these countries
Mrs. Amps has mentioned Zardin; if the lady will compare her hounds with Zardin she will find they are smaller, the head is different, and above all the coat is entirely different. There is a dog called a Powindah dog, largely to be found in these countries, not a hound but a large powerful dog used for guarding the Powindah's camps and the flocks of the nomads who wander, according to the season, from Central Asia to Northern India. This dog has a long shaggy coat, flatter broader head, and not the fine muzzle and nose of the Afghan. It has been greatly used in crossing with the Afghan, as the native is not very particular about mating, and I have found, even some years ago, that they had materially altered the type, and that it was extremely difficult anywhere to find the true type.
Pictures of Miss Manson's hounds have been published in mostly every country.
Even if one does go for a stay in the country of Afghanistan for a short period, I do not think they can be easily obtained, and like all Orientals, the Afghan is only too ready to do a deal, and will tell you that the article he is palming off on to you is the best of its kind. How many people go out to Egypt and India and come home laden with the finest products of the countries - many of them have originated in Birmingham! If they were so readily obtainable in and around Kabul, why did I waste many years in search for the true type? Simply because the majority of the so-called Afghans are only part Afghan
I have never known the native to bother about their coats for coursing purposes, but they frequently cross them with the Arabian Greyhound, their idea being greater speed. This I many times proved to them to be a fallacy as Miss Manson's hound Rajah had the better of all their hounds, with the result the he was many times stolen, but he always returned, even though months elapsed, sometimes painted or dyed an entirely different colour.
My own experience is that those hounds will not produce the same profusion of coat in this country, but the texture remains the same. This is but a reasonable conclusion. As the intense cold of those countries tends to produce a coat fare more abundant than is found on animals in a more temperate climate. One has only to see the beautiful camels of the Powindah's and their huge shaggy coats.
I visited India in 1925 with the object of obtaining further stock for Miss Manson, although I saw several, including Mrs. Amps hounds, I came home again without any. There is another point which Mrs. Amps has not taken into consideration. Miss Manson's hounds have been acclimatized in this country, and have five generations of careful breeding behind them, and over that long period they have always bred true to type.
While care has been taken in their breeding, their original characteristics have been carefully preserved.
During my many years stay on the frontier of Afghanistan and Persia, I never met such a dog as a "Border" dog
G Bell Murray (Major)
Late Indian Army
The Cove, Kirkpatrick-Fleming, Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
To the Editor "Our Dogs"
In reply to Major Bell-Murray's letter I will start by quoting from Mr. Croxton-Smith's article on Afghan Hounds in "Country Life", June 26. "There are few breeds concerning which so little authentic information is available." This sums up the whole case in a nutshell, and it also applies to the whole of Afghanistan. Mr. Lowell-Thomas, in his articles on Afghanistan, recently published, is greatly struck by this and remarks. "How under the sun it has been able to maintain its aloofness from the rest of the world, in view of its geographical position, is a mystery."
Sir Harry Lumsden, who was in Kandahar during the Indian Mutiny, refers to Afghan Hounds in his biography, thus, "he dogs of Afghanistan used for sporting purposes are of three sorts - the Greyhound (Afghan Hound) Pointer and Khundi. The first are not formed for speed, and would have little chance on a fair course with a second rate English dog, but they are said to have some endurance, and when trained are used to assist charughs (hawks) in catching deer, to mob wild hog, and to course hares, fox etc.
Sir George Younghusband, KC MG KGH: in "Forty Years a Soldier" gives a detailed account of hawking with Greyhounds… a form of sport peculiar to Persia and Afghanistan. I believe he also mentions in his book the four Afghan Hounds brought to Mardin by the famous Guides Regiment, when he was a subaltern. I am trying to find out whether my record of these Hounds has been kept by the Guides.
From time to time stray dogs have come over the frontier into India - few I imagine of the genuine breed, they are too carefully guarded to be easily stolen by the caravan followers.
Mr. Carey-Bernard imported the Afghan, "Bob" in 1902. Zardin then appeared, a magnificent specimen who was taken as a model and typical of the breed.
On May 10th 1924, Mr. Medley, hon. secretary of the Indian Kennel Association, as it was then called wrote to my husband, who was in Kabul, asking him to confirm or rectify the breed points from his own observation in Afghanistan. Those points, which you published in my last letter, were the careful and considered result of studying the Afghan hound in his native country for nearly four years.
Major Bell-Murray's joyous picture of the simple Englishman (Major Bell-Murray and I are wholly or partly Scotch) surrounded by wily Afghans, all anxious to sell Afghan Hounds from Birmingham whatever the Afghan equivalent may be, probably Lake Helmund, is unfortunately more amusing than accurate. It has been extremely difficult for us to get good dogs. The French stationed in Kabul have had the same experience, a reluctance on the part of the Afghan to sell us dogs at all.
Monsieur Edouard Chauvet has some very nice dogs, a number are already in France, I believe. Other nationalities stationed in Kabul are also exporting Afghan Hounds. We could not even if we wished, import a wrong type now, too many genuine hounds are coming out of Afghanistan. I don't agree with Major Bell-Murray about the loss of coat being due to climate, neither do I intend to bore your readers with the difference in coat between the poor Punjabi camel and the magnificent Bactrian camel, beyond pointing out they are different breeds.
After 17 months, 12 of which were spent in quarantine unfortunately - with one exception due to illness, my hounds carry heavier coats than they ever had. If after a few generations they lose this essential point then I shall realize they are not a fit breed to introduce into this country, and I shall import no more. I am showing two dogs, The Khan of Ghazni and the Sirdar Of Ghazni, two dogs bred by Afghans, for the sole purpose - work.
Khan we do consider on the heavy side; he comes from the north, where this type only is bred. I was interested to see that Mrs. de la Motte has a dog of this strain. It is unmistakable, and greatly sought after round Kabul. Sirdar of Ghazni is almost a perfect type, but small. He was awarded the first challenge certificate ever given to Afghan Hounds. We have never seen an Afghan Hound over 28 inches, with one exception - a very fine specimen my husband has recently sent to HH the Maharajah Of Patiala. We hope with careful breeding to get size, but it will not be at the expense of stamina, bone, or coat.
Major Bell-Murray mentions that he did not buy any of my hounds in Peshawar. None were for sale: I had a case of rabies, and we were preparing to leave for Pasteur treatment.
My sympathies are with the judges, they have a difficult task. It is a problem time and a little thought will solve. The days are gone when Major Bell-Murray was on the frontier and looked lovingly at the forbidden county. Nowadays one has only to apply for a passport. To misquote James Barrie "Some of you may remember when you started this letter, we are all older now, and I thank you for your patience."
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