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(By Steve Tillotson 2011)
Page 1

One aspect of our breed that has interested me for some time are the "stories" about "Native" Afghan Hounds that supposedly exist/existed in Afghanistan. In our breed history we have several anecdotes and reports about Native hounds. In this section we try to step through all the myths and anecdotes and establish the facts.

1.1 1925 Evelyn Denyer (Kaf Afghan Hounds)

" The type has remained true through all the centuries, thanks to the sporting Sirdars of Afghanistan, who have so jealously guarded the breed. To this day the Sirdars continue their self-imposed task and make it a difficult and delicate matter to obtain specimens. The bitches are kept in close seclusion by the women of the country and are as choicely guarded as the mares of Arabia, so that the importation of foreign blood is practically impossible." (Click here to read full article).

1.2 Maharaja of Patiala 1926

(Preamble from Margaret Niblock's book 1972, page 62 "Needless to say the Westernised Afghan Hound of today with its highly impratical quantities of coat, bears littler outward resemblance to the tazis seen in Afghanistan now!). Margaret then goes on to quote the Maharaja of Patiala -

"Perhaps the Maharaja Of Patiala was right when he commented in a letter to Mrs Amps dated July 30th 1926 - "I really believe that you are doing for the breed that which would have been impossible for their own country do do for them".

1.3 Mrs Mary Amps/Major Bell Murray on outcrossing 1926

Mary Amps - "The Afghans who live in the heat of the plains, near the Indian frontier, sometimes cross a Sluki bitch with an Afghan Hound dog, in order to get less profuse coat". Major Bell Murray - "The majority of so-called Afghans are only partly Afghans. 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".

(Ed note. We should be aware that this Amps/Bell Murray discussion was really part of argument about correctness of type. In this exchange Mrs Amps bad-mouthed the "Plains" type, and Major Bell Murray bad-mouthed the "Mountain" type (patricularly those coming from Kabul, where Mary Amps kennel was located). Thus, to this writer, given the blatent agendas of both Amps and Bell Murray we have no reason to trust their "observations". However, in their attack on each other they both state that the natives frequently cross the Afghan with another breed. I think it reasonable to conclude that native breeders bred/crossbred for a functional purpose, such as speed, stamina, strength etc, whereas Amps/Bell Murray bred for a "type" consistent with their agenda. Whenver Amps/Bell Murray acquired new stock, likely they would have had no meaningful breeding history on that hound. Stock would have been collected/obtained for its "phenotype" (its "look"). Purity of the breed was not a sincere objective in those days. Promoting their personal preferences/type was their objective).

1.4 Royal Kennels/Afghanistan 1959

In 1959 Fred Beckerm one time president of the Northern California AHC wrote the following (an extract from the full article). Mr Beckem had a friend (Mr Anthony Freeman, an NBC broadcaster sent to Afghanistan as a cultural advisor) who was working in Afghanisgtan and he wrote to his friend asking him to write back with anything that might be of interest to Afghan Hound people. Mr Freeman did write back

"Does the Royal Family maintain a stable of Afghan Hounds? Yes, and a very special mark of royal esteem is a present of one of the dogs. A friend of ine from the American Embassy has seen them and says that those she has seen in America and England appear to be of much more refined breeding. There are more Afghan Hounds to be seen in the southern provinces where the breed seems to be fairly stable though compared to your lovely dogs - these are much in the "rough diamond" class. (Ed note, Mr Freeman describes three types of Afghan Hounds, two of which are clearly not Afghan Hounds, but he goes on to say" Type 3 Afghan Hounds (or Tawzis) these are just not seen running around in their pure state".

1.5 Wolfgang Rhenner 1965-1972

Mr Rhenner worked in Afghanistan as an engineer and travelled the country extensively in the period 1965-1972. He took a lot of photographs which he has given us access to, click here to acces his photo collection. Whilst dialoging with Mr Rhenner, I asked if he had ever seen an Afghan Hound whilst in Afghanistan. His clear answer was "NO".. Further, if you study these 500 photgraphs, you will only find a couple of photographs with a dog (mongrel) in them.

1.6 Pure Bred Dogs In Afghanistan = NO
Dogs are not held in high regard by the native people (other than those specifically used for hunting/guarding). Breeding is not "pure" based on disciplined and recorded or documented breeding practices. Breeding involves pragmatism to achieve a hunting or guard dog. Bred for a purpose, irrespective of genetic background., and I think it striking by its absence that there are no dogs to be seen in this large collection of photographs by Mr Rhenner. There have been severa excursions to Afghanistan in the last 30/40 years. None of these visitors was able to report routinely finding "Afghan Hounds" or any evidence whatsoever of a controlled/disciplined breeding program. . Royal Kkennels/Pure Bred Dogs - NO. No evidence of the purity of bloodlines of the long defunct royal kennels exists. Sticking a pack of dogs in a compound in the grounds of a palace, does not constitute a "kennel" in the sense that modern people use that word.. See above the comment by the Maharaja of Patiala 80 years ago in which the Maharaja basically acknowledges that the foreign visitors/breeders are doing what the natives could not (breed "pure" dogs).

The point being, despite various legacy statements about "purity" of the breed, the reality is that such "purity" (albeit, based on im-pure bloodlines), only came into being from the early 1900's through the selection and breeding activities of the pioneer breeders such as Amps, Bell Murray and others. The Afghan Hound is the product of 20th century selection and breeding, based on impure, unknown and undocumented origins of their foundation stock...

Article under compilation, to be completed. ST

Related content:
The Hyland Painting
The Origins Section
The Afghan Hound Is An Ancient Breed. Evelyn Denyer (KAF) 1925
The Barukhzy (Afghan) And Allied Eastern Hounds. (Extract) by W. D. Drury 1903
Robert Leighton on Mrs Amps Ghazni 1926
UK - KAF (Bell Murray) Afghan Hounds, A Croxton Smith,
Country Life 1926 (extract)

Extract on The Afghan Hound from "The Practical Dog Book by Edward C Ash m.r.a.c (Dip. Hons.) 1931
The Barukhzy (Afghan) And Allied Eastern Hounds (Extract) from "British Dogs,
Their Points, Selection, And Show Preparation", by W. D. Drury 1903

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