Afghan Hound Times
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The Afghan Hound Standard
By (Annette Buxton, Kazibari, NZ)
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Anette Buxton exhibiting her home-bred
Ch Pania Kazibari in 1977
Afghan Hound Times photo - Anette Buxton exhibiting her home-bred Ch Pania Kazibari in 1977

Briefly outline your own background in the breed

I first saw an Afghan hound back about 1960 in Levin. I was amazed at he beautiful creature with the flowing coat and monkey tail and the distinctive action. The Venus streak operated for me and I made a resolution that I would have one of those. This occurred in 1969 when I obtained Alanya Shadar (Imp Aust) - a daughter of Kabul Rakush -- and a grandaughter of Mazari Of Carloway -- from a farmer in Kurow. She was 9 months old -- a black masked golden creature who was much better in reflection than I ever deserved -- just buying a pet. She remained a pet for 6 months until the obvious happened, someone said -- "why don't you show her -- she's lovely."" Well of course I knew that, so we did and she duly obtained her title -- 12 CC's it was then. I imported form Marie Howitt, Kazar Shaz Rahmin in 1972 - he was a litter brother to the well known K Sheer Khan, and while not reaching the same heights in the ring he produced for me my lovely Ch Pania Kasbari - (Multi BIS) whom many will remember. Ch Marsula Bazuriust (Aust) - was also part of the kennel in his later years. I also imported a bitch from the Jaipur kennels in Melbourne and was part owner of Saringa's Fanio (UK) with Dawn Hutson. My last Afghan died in 1987, but I like to think that I am still involved with the glorious breed as a life member and Patroness of the CAHC (I called the inaugural meeting in 1972) and as a continual devotee... you never get an afghan out from under your skin. I commenced judging in 1975 0 because I wanted to put something back into the dog world that had given me so much. I enjoy learning about anything interesting and to me dogs are a most interesting and various subject -- and there's so much more to learn yet.

As a judge, what is your opinion of the afghan hound standard as a descriptive medium to work to when judging the breed?

The standard, in comparison with many others, is better than most in providing a word picture of the breed. It is very descriptive and in most cases quite specific. The American standard is even more descriptive, but care must be taken when reading them in conjunction because the Americans are not looking for exactly the same dog. As with any standard - an individual's interpretation is still possible - e.g. exactly how long is "long".

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?

Here we seem to have the "old chestnut" of type vs soundness. The answer has always been that you need both to make a good example of the breed. In my view, there are certain breed characteristics without which the breed loses its right to the term Afghan Hound ...These are his dignity and knot, prominent hipbones, peculiar coat pattern... saddle, pasterns, and a ring in the end, the smooth and springy gait and of course his "I am the greatest" demeanor.

The head and expression has got to be important, and particularly so with the Afghan. The combination of the head properties and eye shape and placement are critical here. The eye should be dark for preference though a golden colour was much prized for sight by the afghan tribesman and is not debarred in our standard. The most important part is the shape and placement - nearly triangular, slanting slightly upward from the inner corner to the outer. We have all seen the untypical expressions generated by round, bulging light, hawed or drooping eyes - even an unpigmented third eyelid is not desirable in my opinion. With the correctly placed eye comes the beautiful chiseling of the head that quickly elevates it out of the "plain" category. That long skull - not too narrow - as sometimes we see today. The standard also calls for a prominent occiput and a slight stop - and it is - overall - of virtually equal proportions surmounted by this magnificent silky topknot - and the whole having an air of quality and beauty.

The feet shape and size have also got to have a lot of prominence in my book. Toes arched and large both in length and breadth they also indicate a well-boned hound. Small feet often indicate slight bone, upright no-spring pasterns and a straight humerus which of course also means that the dog isn't going to move the way that you would like him to.

The sparsely feathered, not too short tail, set on low with a ring in the end but carried high in action is also a major breed characteristic, The sparsely feather comment is complementary to the overall peculiar coat pattern. Afghans with too much coat will not have a sparsely feathered tail - unless it is plucked. The tail set and carriage is also an indication of the correct 30 degree slope of the pelvis, indicated by the required sloping croup.

I would therefore place more importance on the set of the tail as one indicator of rear structural soundness. The dog should be happy to raise it in action and failure to do this at any time in the ring is an indicator of an unsound temperament. The ring in the end of the tail is also a breed characteristic - but unfortunately not always present - it should however be always coveted.

It is pointless having breed characteristics without a sound frame to hang them on - and I must admit I like to see a dog move properly - especially an Afghan. You just cant get that sight - like a ship in full sail - of the gorgeous creature gliding around the ring - smoothly with spring and a style of high order - head held proudly and tail up, - without a perfectly balanced and muscled frame. His shoulders must have the required layback and the upper arm must meet it with a similar length and angle. The whole assembly must be set slightly back from the breast bone (not forward as will often find). He must have long, springy pasterns to take the jolts. To match the front assembly he must have a well angulated rear - with long second thighs and short hocks. If the front and rear are balanced and he is well muscled, then he will be able to move. I would prefer to have a dog who is slightly straight front and back - but balanced, than one who is well angulated at one end with the other end not matching. Usually it is the front that is straighter - and can be seen easily once the dog moves as its top line slopes upwards towards the rear.

The same criteria would apply to me as a breeder - soundness is mandatory - but then again you have to have those breed characteristics or you only have a sound mongrel

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?

Size of feet - but I have already spoken about this. Suffice it to say that Afghan devotees use the size of the feet as one of their first indicators in picking a good puppy. In an adult with a full coat you can't see how big the feet are unless you specifically feel for them.

As a gazehound they are unique from other breeds that do not have log sight. As a result of their long-sighted ability their close up vision is not so good - never expect an afghan to catch a biscuit! Because their short sight is not the best they do not like judges coming at their heads from the front with hands extended towards their eyes. An afghan will pull back or shy at this approach so it is necessary to approach the dog from the side and make a point of not obscuring his vision with your hands. Don't expect an afghan to look you in the eye either and don't try to force him to by holding his head - he is supposed to look at and through you.

An afghan needs a good size ring to demonstrate his ability to move in that floating fashion - long striding dog can be hampered considerably if the ring is too small - this applies to all dogs of this size and bier.

Some judges may be bemused by the bewhiskered face of an afghan puppy complete with mutton chop whiskers. This is normal coat pattern - afghan fanciers can set great store by mutton chops as a sign of a good coat to come. The other coat oddity, which is not mentioned in the standard is the beard or mandarins appearing on an adult they are really quite delightful - another indication of the Eastern expression.

Puppies of about 6-9 months frequently don't row evenly and it is very common to see a class of pups all with toplines sloping upwards towards the rear. This is not peculiar to this breed but occurs in many breeds before their hindquarters drop.

If you have seen/or judged afghan hounds in other countries - how do you feel the dogs compare?

I have judged Afghans in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. The best dogs from this country, in my opinion compare favourably with dogs that I have been fortunate enough to see overseas.

How do you feel dogs compare over the years in this country?

During my time in the breed there have always been good dogs and not so good dogs, and that remains so today. At some stages there have been more of one than the other and people have referred to the breed as going through a trough or a peak as a result. One thing that has improved over the years is presentation.

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.

Judges can influence the direction a breed takes by placing undue emphasis on various parts of the dog - e.g. coat. Because some judges don't like bare pasterns - this characteristic is disappearing along with the natural saddle. Some exhibitors must now resort to shaving to create the saddle called for in the standard. Temperament is another area that is changing because of the exhibitors desire to have a dog that is outgoing and readily able to be handled in the ring. From the dignified and aloof temperaments that we love, we now have quite a few tail wagging "friends for life" in the ring. This temperament is quite foreign to the breed.

Good judges will look for the things that are important in a breed and place more weight on those. The main failure of some judges of a long coated breed is a tendency to judge the dog by the way it looks rather than by the way it is. Construction is of prime importance and a reluctance to get under the coat to analyze the way the dog is put together is a major failing in a judge.

Following on from this - what as a breeder/exhibitor are (or were) your expectations of breeder judges and what can exhibitors expect from you as a breeder judge?

I would expect a breeder/judge to know the standard (that's not so silky - people are usually worst on their own breed) and his/her canine anatomy thoroughly - and to be skilled in assessing each exhibit. He/she should be aware of the breed characteristics and the weight to place on each. I would also expect a breeder/judge not to have hang-ups or preferences for colour, or even type. and not to be prejudiced about one breed point to the exclusion of others. I would expect he/she to approach the dogs correctly, handle them knowledgeably, and give them sufficient opportunity to display their movement. He/she must also be courteous and attentive to each exhibit and give no exhibit an advantage over another. Finally I would expect him/her to make an honest decision based on the merits of the dog - but then isn't this what every exhibitor has a right to expect from every Judge - specialist or not?

Afghan Hound numbers in the show ring rose until the late seventies and have fallen ever since - what effect has this had on the breed in this country?"

The remaining breeders are generally people dedicated to improving the breed by following various breeding plans. This explains why there are still some good dogs in the ring today, though the nucleus of dogs is much smaller.

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 don't believe the quality of the top dogs has gone down but the overall show entries have certainly gone up and some other breeds are now much stronger than they were. Afghans still win in Show awards reasonably regularly - at least in the South Island

Name one afghan hound who has left a lasting impression, or who you consider was a truly great Afghan Hound

Ch Bletchingley Ottoman

Annette Buxton, Kazibari, NZ, 1991

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