Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)
TWO EARLY AFGHAN HOUNDS
(Shahzada and Mooroo)
(Constance Miller c. 1970 with additional information from Dennis Mccarthy book)
This compilation page prepared by Steve Tillotson
Recently (c. 1970) an enterprising young Englishman Dennis McCarthy (Ed Note see bottom of page for summary details on Dennis Mccarthy) by name went "digging into the back rooms of the British Museum and found a fascinating pair of stuffed Afghan Hounds which he was allowed to borrow long enough to display at an historical exhibit at the Midland Afghan Hound Club (UK) show. He has been gracious enough to allow me to use one of the photos, in this article.
Shahzada and Mooroo. McCarthy Photo
1/24/2012 - We have recently obtained another photo of Shahzada and Moroo, taken at the British Museum by Murray Anderson (NZ - The "Travelling Tazi"). This photo is taken from a different (front) angle so gives a new view of these two hounds.
These hounds definitely pre-date the better known "Bell Murray" imports by several years, having been the property of Mrs Ella Whitbread who donated the body of "Shahzada" (the male) to the museum in 1901, and "Mooroo" (the female), two years later. We know little about these hounds except for some interesting excerpts taken directly from letters that Mrs Whitbread exchanged with museum authorities, In 1901 she wrote, "Do you care to have the body of my beautiful Afghan Hound? He died on Friday. The Shah said he was a very beautiful specimen..." In the 1903 letter we learn more about Mooroo. "In 1901 I was so unfortunte to have poisoned my Afghan Hound and you were pleased to accept it for the Museum. I grieve to say that I have been obliged to have destroyed the female. She has an internal complaint....... She never had puppies, though had she had them, the highest in England had bespoken a puppy...."
These two "Whitbread hounds" were a part of a rather motley crew of unrelated Afghan imports of their day, all of which seemed most valuable and handsome to their owners, but merely "foreign dogs" competing with Dingo and Chinese Edible dogs etc, to almost everyone else. Not until Zardin, in 1907 was the breed taken seriously.
With the re-discovery of Shahzada and Moroo, "in the flesh", more or less, arguments raced over Britain as to whether these hounds, except for lack of coat, are worthy of comparision with modern Afghan hounds. Practically no one was willing to say a good word for Mooroo - poor coatless, wheelbacked, plain-faced girl that she was - and I, for one prefer not to say anything other than I hold decided mental reservations about the quality of some taxidermy in those days. It is completely possible that the taxidermist had not seen either a breathing Afghan, or a good picture of one. I say this because either this Afghan bitch had a good percentage of "Greyhound" blood, juding from her loin conformation, length of tail and a few other things, or the taxidermist, haveing been completely familiar with English Greyhounds, was inspired to form her body armature upon such familar lines as a starting point.
Shahzada - Illustration by R. H. Moore 1900
(referenced in paragraph below)
Shahzada is more interesting and certainly considerably closer to the Afghan Hound as we think of him and has actually gained a core of devotees in Britain among people who are willing to let his lack of coat and his age fall under "consideration". Personally, I suggest that everyone who has access to Hubbard's "handbook" take a quick look at plate 1 there to see this very same "Shahzada" in a drawing by R.H.Moore. it is difficult to believe that this could be the same dog - someone has got to be kidding. This despite the signs of age in the mounted hound. The racy, houndy look so screamingly evident in the scanty-coated animal in the Moore depiction, with depth of chest, and prominent hip-bones and long fine head, has long seemd to me to be the epitome of the lowland "Desert" type. The mounted "Shahzada" has gone gross all over and even seems quite "stuffed" in his rounded and drawn back mid-section. I could only wish that the "real Shahzada" could be called out at this point.
Nevertheless such finds are interesting, make marvelous conversation pieces, and, if not taken too seriously, do add bits to our fun of breed knowledge
Constance Miller, c. 1970
Some notes from Dennis McCarthy's book on the breed - On page 13 Dennis documents the Whitbread/British Museum dialogue and letters as mentioned by Connie Miller above. On the next page of his book (page 14) Dennis continues ......
"When I discovered the stuffed bodies of Shahzada and Mooroo were still owned by the British Museum and stored at their depot at Tring in Hertfordshire, I wrote asking if I could borrow them to exhibit at a show I was organising. At the time I was Secretary of the Midland Afghan Hound Club. The dogs created a great deal of attention and were seen by Dr Betsy Porter (el Kabul Afghan Hounds, UK), who was was a member of that Afghan Comittee in the early 1930's which saw the portrait of Zardin, When Dr Porter saw the stuffed Shahzada she turned to me beaming and said "That's the dog we saw at the Museum. That's the dog on which we based the breed standard". I made a note at the time (9 October 1965). Dr Porter said that with one minor fault she thought Shahzada the perfect Afghan Hound and said I could quote her at any time."
(snip at this point then we continue further on the page..) "Shahzada stayed at my house for a month after the show and I had plenty of opportunity to study him carefully. I contacted the taxidermists who mounted him - they are still in business - and I was told that it is extremely difficult to present an animal exactly as it was when living but allowing a little for the taxidermist's license to "caricature" his subject, I would be happy to breed Shahzadas"
NOTES RE DENNIS McCARTHY
Dennis McCarthy owned the "Pooghan" kennel of Afghan Hounds in the UK. Dennis was exhibitor, breeder and a championship show level Judge. Dennis also served as Hon Secretary of The Midland Afghan Hound Club. Dennis wrote a book on the breed "The Afghan Hound", published by Bartholomew in 1977. Dennis was also a TV personality and he was the host/comentator for several years on Crufts dog show. Similar TV role as we see these days with David Frei at Westminster
Dennis had an avid interest in the breed, he was a willing researcher, he had an enquiring mind and wasn't afraid to challenge the status quo, and could be quite outspoken in his pursuit of facts and clarity.
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