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By Steve Tillotson, 2013

A wire photo of Zardin, published in the New York Times in 1908 photo Zardin the strangest of dogs

A recent AHI FB forum discussion about the integrity of pedigrees, morphed as these discussions often do, into an entirely different subject matter - crossbreeding. One our newer friends in the Afghan hound community (Gina Hicks Boyd) asked a very interesting question which was left unanswered. I feel it's a shame that when we get a question from a curious mind on a refreshing topic that it gets ignored. The FB Forum's talk ad-infinitum about the same things, rarely, if ever, achieving the remotest degree of agreement. Here we have a good question from someone with a serious interest in knowing the answer, and it gets ignored... So in the spirit of wishing to respond positively to a very good question, from someone with a genuine interest in obtaining an answer to their question, I have endeavored below to answer that question.


The forum was discussing aspects of crossbred/native hounds. In my response I referenced two other breeds, the Shetland sheepdog, and The Irish Wolfhound. Two breeds that were crossbred in modern times (late 19th century, early 20th century) and have been purebred ever since

Another dimension to this question came from another Forum contributor expressed their view about the merits and benefits of crossbreeding into the Afghan hound. It seems appropriate to address both questions in this response.


Gina's statement/question was as follows -

"All domesticated dogs are the result of crossbreeding from the beginning so why does it have to stop where it is currently? I'm not understanding the issue".


Firstly, I agree with Gina's statement that all domesticated dogs are the result of crossbreeding from the beginning etc. I will again reference the two breeds mentioned above, to give some historical examples of this.


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 (Larkbear Shetlands, Poodles and Afghan hounds). They discussed the situation with the Kennel Club who agreed to remove the word Collie from Shetland sheepdog export pedigrees and thus enabled the AKC to thereafter recognize UK Sheltie imports.


In Ireland supposedly dating back to the Roman era there was a "variety" (I use that word very pointedly. There was no notion of purebred/pedigree dog breeding until the late 1880's when the English Kennel Club led the way by establishing a "register" of pedigree bred dogs, that excluded any crossbred dog.

This dog was known as "The Irish Wolfdog", a large "greyhound type" breed that was produced by mating a variety of Mastiff breeds in particular (as well as other large dog breeds) with the Irish Greyhound to produce an athletic dog that was powerful enough to destroy wolves which were a major problem in Ireland for centuries.

By the early 18th century wolves had pretty much been eliminated from Ireland and the Irish Wolf Dog lost its purpose for existence and almost became extinct. A Scot (Captain Graham), following the lead of others, embarked upon a program of "breed recovery". This involved tracking down the very few remaining Irish Wolfdog varieties and breeding them with the Scottish Deerhound (and in the early days, crossing them with other breeds such as Great Danes). It took maybe 20 years of breeding by Graham to achieve any consistency in type and conformant with his early breed description (the basis for the current day Irish Wolfhound breed standard). Even after all Grahams efforts it required the early 20th century breed to continue his work. So, maybe it took into the first decade of the 20th century before a consistency of breeding was achieved. Since that time, Irish Wolfhounds have been "purebred" (ie, only mating wolfhounds to wolfhounds, no further outcrossing. It is known as a fact, that a few breeders even in the early 20th century, continued to crossbreed Irish wolfhound with Deerhounds. In fact, at some stage dogs registered as Deerhounds were entered in Irish wolfhound classes and vice-versa. As The Kennel Club matured, this kind of idiosyncrasy was eliminated by new KC rules, and their drive to establish a show world of pedigree dog's only.

So in addition to the historical fact of crossbreeding which Gina quite rightly points out, with the two breeds above, we have a fairly modern documented, factual history of how crossbreeding was used to improve one breed and to rescue another.


The ancient origins of the Afghan hounds are unknown. Breed writers who tell of their existence 4000 years ago are talking rubbish. Documented breed history only dates back to the late 1880's (as it does with almost every other English founded breed, because that was the era of when The Kennel Club became established and introduced its pedigree dog registry and dog show regulations. Prior to that, dog breeding was dis-organized/unregulated and crossbreeding was commonplace).

A photo of Zardin taken c 1908 in West London (Ealing), England photo Zardin exhibited London early 1920's

So, given the "facts" of known origins, rather than the myths breed book writers choose to propagate, we can document the Afghan hound's origins back to the late 1800's. The primary source of Afghan hounds in the western world came from two Military families who were stationed in Afghanistan and India and bought around 20 native dogs back with them when they returned to England. In some cases the dogs were of entirely unknown/undocumented heritage, in some cases these pioneer breeders had actually bred litters from their collection of native hounds, so some came with a few generations of pedigree, many did not. These two families were Major and Mrs. Amps (Ghazni Afghan hounds) and Major Bell-Murray and Ms Jean Manson (Bell-Murray and Cove Afghan hounds). Yet again the book writers serve to mis-inform us. These book writers routinely state that there were "two types of Afghan hounds, The "Mountain Type" (Ghazni) and the "Plains or Desert Type" (Bell-Murray). A respected breed book author (Margaret Niblock) some 40 years ago endeavored to undo the damage done by the misuse of the term "Two Types" of foundation Afghan hounds. Ms Niblock explained that within these supposed two types, there were actually multiple different types (as you would expect from native stock), further Ms Niblock pointed out that several other Afghan hounds were imported in the immediate years following the Ghazni and Bell Murray imports (which occurred in 1921 and 1924). For example, the aforementioned Clara Bowring of Larkbear Afghans imported Afghan hounds from India as early as 1924.

Consider the following pedigree which exemplifies the existence of multiple types/imports, which breeders of the 1920's chose to blend together, thus eradicating any individual variety/type to effectively "create a new breed based on blended types".

Parents Grandparents Great-Grandparents Great-Great-Grandparents
Am Ch Garrymhor Yenghiz Khan Ardmor Anthony Khan Baber Parent Not Recorded
Parent Not Recorded
Dakkas Delight Parent Not Recorded
Parent Not Recorded
Ch Garrymhor Souriya Ch Ashna of Ghazni Ch Sirdar of Ghazni
Shireen of Ghazni
Ch Alfreda Shahzada
Zinanna of Ghanistan Kulli Khan of Kuranda Potentate Bm Ooty
Ch Ranee
Tarza Baluch
Natasha of Kuranda Riverleigh Sirdar Ch Sirdar of Ghazni
Zarifa of Ghazni
Shalimar of Wyke Bm Kim of Wyke Bm
Ranee of Wyke Bm

Rather than me go one by one through the ancestors in this pedigree I recommend readers visit the Afghan Hounds International Pedigree Database where you can view the above pedigree, complete with photographs and which will show the wide variety of "types" upon which the Afghan hound breed is based.

As a shortcut, just walk down the 4th (Gt Gt Grandparents) generation of the pedigree and this is what you will find -

  • 1-4 UNKNOWN, bloodline is from India, not Afghanistan
  • 5-6 GHAZNI the supposed mountain type (not)
  • 7-8 SHAZADA/AFROZ a third line already, origins unknown
  • 9-12 OOTY/RANEE/BALUCH/DAGHAI Bell Murray bloodlines, supposed plains/desert type (not)
  • 13-14 GHAZNI as above
  • 15-16 BELL MURRAY as above
So in this one pedigree (Afghan born in 1927) we have AT LEAST 4 DIFFERENT BLOODLINES IN THIS PEDIGREE, and noting that there were different types within each of these bloodlines, the original Afghan hound, as developed in the western world, was the product of an OUTCROSS OF NATIVE BREEDS.

To support that last point. Ms Eta Pauptit (Van de Orange Maneje, Netherlands) one of the founding Afghan breeders in the Netherlands, wrote that she considered the Ghazni and Bell Murray Hounds to be "two separate breeds". She chose to breed only from Ghazni hounds. Her bloodline is still available today as she and her subsequent breeder supporters have maintained that bloodline for some 80 years now. Ms Pauptit also states that the presence of the coat pattern "brindle" in Afghan hounds is a sign of "impurity", further supporting her assertion that Ghazni/Bell Murray were in fact different breeds. Personally I disagree with Ms Pauptit, in particular I challenge her assertion re Brindle being a sign of impurity. In a recently obtained photograph of Khan Of Ghazni who has variously been described as a dark honey fawn, this reveals he did not stay that way and he darkened considerably, and with signs of brindling in his coat - photo below

Khan Of Ghazni (Photo taken in Kashmir above Dal Lake), c 1922

Hamara Of Pommelrock was eventually exported to the USA where she was mated with Westmill Hamayun Of Catawba a dog Afghan hound, exported from England to the USA. This breeding produced Shibergam Of Dunrobin in 1941. Have a look at the pedigree and photograph of Shibergam, you will spot I am sure, that two decades after the breed arrived in England, characteristics of the different types still showed up in the breeding (note this is a well coated Afghan, like Ghazni, but has bare pasterns like many of the Bell Murray's). As a primer for discussions on page 2, its helpful to point out that achieving consistency/standardization of a new breed takes time, and even after 20 years this had not been fully achieved, as epitomized above by Shibergham's mixed coat pattern characteristics. More on this on the next page.

The photographs of Zardin above are included because Zardin is the Afghan hound, upon which all Afghan hound breed standards in the world are (supposedly) based. It is fact that Zardin's arrival in England was startling, never before had an Afghan hound like him been seen. Yet another clear indicator of the varied/crossbred nature of the breeds origins

Having summarised the facts of the Afghan hounds crossbred origins, in the next page we'll consider many other issues resulting from Gina's excellent question.

Related content
Afghan Controversy What is the correct type?
USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard
The Classical Compromise By Steve Tillotson, February 2012

The Origins Of The Afghan Hound Steve Tillotson 2010
Early Afghan Hounds Steve Tillotson 2010
UK "Is The Afghan Hound Derived From The Saluki"
(Debate between Hope Waters/Patricia Kean c. 1960

The Afghan Hound Zardin. Steve Tillotson 2013
Afghan Hound Breed History Library Of Articles
Irish Wolfhound/Deerhound Breed istory Library Of Articles
The Kalagh Tazi, Ortrud Roemer-Horn (Germany) 1996
Expedition to Afghanistan, Carlotta Wolseley-Lahchiouach, 2011
Chipak from Afghanistan. Daphne Gie 1970s
Daruma Afghan Hound Switzerland
Desertwind Afghan Hounds

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