The Afghan Hound Standard
By (Cecilla Dodson. Torwood, NZ)
Left to right
Noni Hare with
Aust/NZ Ch The Rake Of Chaucer Lodge.
Bill Van Selles with
Mishuh Of Chaucer Lodge
(sister to The Rake)
Cecilla Dodson with
Ch El Kabah of Chaucer Lodge
(Mishuh's son) and
Torwood Arrant Forte
(son of el Kabah)
Briefly outline your own background in the breed
My husband Pat and I acquired our first Afghan Hound from Bill van Selles of Chaucer Lodge in early 1971. El Kabah Of Chaucer Lodge, a black masked gold dog, "Zoltan" made his mark in the ring as a youngster but truly put his stamp on his progeny. In temperament he was a true Afghan and although he had his critics (and what dog doesn't) he excelled in m movement. They were the days of fierce competition in the breed and when we bred our first litter (El Kabah x Aries Moonwind - Aust) there would be up to 70 Afghans at a show. It was not unusual to see up to six BIS winners in the Open Dog class, particularly at the National Show and one really worked hard for a challenge certificate. That first litter was the best we bred and produced the youngest Afghan hound to ever be awarded Best In Show at All Breeds level in NZ. Torwood Arrant Forte was just 14 months old and an outstanding youngster. Ch Poacher Of Chaucer Lodge x Aries Moon Wind was our final litter; it produced Ch Torwood Gold Gremlin, whelped 17.12.78 who was still achieving Best In Show at 10 years old. Bill van Selles would have been very proud. He was very much Chaucer Lodge type, truly an Afghan
As a judge, what is your opinion of the afghan hound standard as a descriptive medium to work to when judging the breed?
I have long felt the standard of the Afghan should be expanded; there is little emphasis on the important aspects of the breed. In describing the gait as "smooth and springy" one contradicts the other. Springy can be likened to that of a poodle and so often is combined with the short mincing steps we see so much of and which is totally incorrect. Nowhere is mentioned "good reach and drive". I feel it would best be described as "smooth and effortless, good reach and powerful drive." The native terrain of this breed was both mountainous and sandy desert, and he was a dog who traveled extensively with caravans, he would have been exhausted moving like a poodle. A Judge is almost forced to ignore "coat must be allowed to develop naturally." Too many dogs have saddles similar to sandpaper, all done with electric clippers, thankfully we don't now see too many shaved necks. In the pursuit of the so-called "glamour" in colour and appearance, the basic standard is being lost.
Selecting important aspects of the standard, which do you feel rate the most important when judging, why and how would you rate these qualities against each other? Do the same criteria apply to you as a breeder?
As I have stated, there is insufficient reference in the standard to movement. I would have to rate this personally as the most important aspect of the breed and if correct it is unique to the Afghan. If one looks at movement one cannot ignore shoulders and the length between hip and hock, and hocks are comparatively short with good hind movement. A good Afghan hound is slow to mature but will sustain that maturity but his hocks will have achieved their maximum length by 6 months of age
Hocks which are too long as a puppy will often result in a cow hocked adult. As a judge I would not rate one quality over an other, rather look for the balance dog which conforms as close as possible to my interpretation of the standard, but movement has to be number one. The 'Eastern or Oriental expression" is important, this combines eye shape, head carriage and aloofness.
Are there any facets to judging the afghan hound that you feel are unique to the breed and what allowances do you make for these features, as a judge in the show ring?
As previously stated, movement and expression. A well-coated, beautifully presented afghan is a joy to behold but coat is purely packaging, it is the contents that matter. Too much emphasis has been put on coat and colour and I believe a lot of the dog has been lost in the pursuit of glamour. I would never put coat over movement and expression
The size of most of the show rings today cannot do justice to an Afghan movement and that combined with poor handling can see many a good dog ending up further down the placings than he rightly should. I often feel that some thought o the part of the show manager by putting Afghans and larger breeds, toward the end of a group and enlarging the ring at that point would be a good idea.
Of course it is not always possible to do this but in many cases it is. Judges can also play a part in insisting on a larger ring where possible. I have never been able to see reason for walking dogs in the ring. I have asked other judges the reason for this but I am not convinced it is necessary
If you have seen/or judged afghan hounds in other countries - how do you feel the dogs compare?
Having judged the breed in larger numbers out of NZ, there are many common problems. Too many of them compounded by sheer lack of knowledge on the part of breeders
Exotic colours and lavish coats, do not influence me - these seemed to be most in evidence out of NZ but I found a wider assortment of heads and sadly the eye shapes were rounder, lack of underjaw was common as were broader and shorter muzzles
In this country I would have to say poor shoulders and fronts are very much in evidence. It is very interesting to note it is one line but while careless breeding continues, these faults can only multiply. Again it goes back to thoughtlessness on the part of the breeders. I am not saying it is intentional but the breed has suffered badly. The remedy can only be for serious breeders to study the breed. We all make mistakes, but having made them it is the ability to recognise those mistakes and not repeat them that makes the difference between a conscientious breeder and others.
How do you feel dogs compare over the years in this country?
Not well - we had some poor dogs in the mid-seventies when Afghans "peaked" but we had some very good ones too. So many lines seem to have merged and been overwhelmed by inferior bloodlines. Dogs which should have been used then were not and are now long gone and there was too much of "Les's use this champion to that champion and have lots of little champions" attitude and pretty colours too. As I stated earlier this has given rise to the poor front assemblies 0 one sometimes wonders if these "slab siders" are becoming the majority and the resulting turning out of front feet does not present a good picture from the front.
Having bred afghan hounds yourself and then asked to make judgment on the breed in the show ring, how do you feel judges influence the direction a breed is going and have they (or you) influenced the afghan hound breed in particular.
I think judges will not influence the serious minded Afghan owner. After all, unless the judge is a specialist (and even then he may have hang-ups on some particular feature of the breed giving rise to fault judging) your dedicated afghan person knows far more about the breed. It is the breeder who is the influence; he produces the dogs to be judged.
A judge should judge to the standard. We all like to think this is always the case - the problem lies in the judge's interpretation of the standard - a judge should always be able to give a reason for his placings. Of course when it is just sheer lack of knowledge on the breed and this is the case with many All Breeder s (so many breeds to learn about). I once saw an Afghan overseas go Best In Show under an All Breeder who was a Terrier specialist. The dog had one of those fronts I described earlier - a perfect Terrier front and action! Lovely on a Foxy - ghastly on an Afghan!
Most exhibitors can remember afghan hounds frequently taking Best In Show awards at All Breeds Championship show, yet statistics show this to be rare today, why is this so? Is the breed poorer today or have other breeds improved at a greater rate?"
I think we must recognize the chances of Afghans taking BIS awards in the late seventies were greater due to their numbers. Let's be honest, we had also a lot of Australian imports (and a lot of Australian judges)! but we also had some very deserved winners. One cannot ignore the late Ch El Tazzi Tarma, a magnificent specimen on the stack and a 'safe" award for any judge - There will probably never be another Tama, he was outstanding as a winner. I feel the Afghan has just not "gone ahead" and the quality of the hounds has vastly improved. Noticeably so is the Whippet - they have improved out of sight. This breed has overcome its problems of size and heads and they must have dedicated breeders to do so.
It is pleasing to see there are still serious guardians of the Afghan breed, but sadly there are those who are not. The guardians will never breed the numbers (and rightly so) to overcome the "dollar dealers" and it is not just in Afghans
If you feel there is a problem with quality today in the breed, wherein lies the answer? What must the exhibitor, the breeder and the judge alike do to ensure improvement?
The problem of quality today and retention or recovery of it applies to all breeds. The exhibitor, the breeder and the judge
An exhibitor may buy a pup as a pet, thinks later he may enter a dog show, has a win, and then thinks he has a world-beater. It could have been bad judging but then the owner wants to mate the dog and so the problem is compounded. You have breeders who sell pups as "future champions" and you have judges with insufficient knowledge in the breed. These problems will always be with us. There is no quick remedy but it must all go back to the breeder. If the judge only see quality, that is all he can put up.
I dislike strongly strung up Afghans and tail proppers Why do exhibitors do this - read your standard - The head must be held proudly and tail - 'raised when in action".
Name one Afghan hound who has left a lasting impression, or who you consider was a truly great afghan hound
It has to be the dog I noticed on a table at a show in the Wellington Show Building in 1969. Beautifully groomed, King of all he surveyed and convinced me I had to own one of these imperious animals - Ch Pasha Of Chaucer Lodge it is all your fault I became "hooked".
Cecilla Dodson. Torwood, NZ, 1991
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