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Afghan Hound Coat Trimming And Shaping
various correspondents.
Compiled by Steve Tillotson Jan 2012
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Afghan Hound Times - AHCA No Stripping or Trimming

(Ed note: I have compiled these pages from articles/comments made by several breed experts, specialists and an AHCA spokesperson. I would draw readers attention to the contributions from Donald A Smith, President of the Afghan Hound Club Of America (1955 - 1959 and 1961-1966) .

The AHCA has made it perfectly clear over 50 years ago, that trimming, shaving, shaping the Afghan Hounds coat is not only unacceptable, but that it is CONTRARY TO THE BREED STANDARD.

AHCA has stated that the Judges should penalize exhibits accordingly.


Reference: AKC Rules Applying To Dog Shows, Chapter 11, Section 8


"Change in appearance by artificial means".

So violators lay themselves open to AKC action by "changing the appearance" of the Afghan Hound by the artificial means of clipping, shaving etc.

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2. DONALD A SMITH, AHCA President President 1955 - 1959 and 1961-1966
Afghan Hound Club Of America, in AK Gazette

At The Annual General Meeting last February The Afghan Hound Club Of America passed a resolution to the following effect:

Whereas during the past year Denlingers has published a book entitled "Grooming and Showing Instructions" in which it is recommended that the coat of the Afghan Hound be plucked, stripped, sandpapered and/or scissored in various places and..

Whereas the Standard for The Afghan Hound states that "The Afghan Hound is shown in its natural state; the coat is not stripped or trimmed".

"Therefore be it; Resolve that the Afghan Hound Club of America places itself on record of strongly disapproving of those instructions or of any other advice or instructions to the same effect, as "being contrary to the standard and to the interests of the breed".

"Therefore be it; Resolve that the Afghan Hound Club of America places itself on record
of strongly disapproving of those instructions or of any other advice or instructions to the same effect
as "being contrary to the standard and to the interests of the breed".
(October 1959 Donald Smith AHCA President)

First of all let us point out that this action was not intended to amend the Standard or to place increased emphasis on coat and coat pattern. It was intended to affirm, or re-affirm what was thought to be universally accepted (although perhaps not always observed) interpreting of the Standard in respect of grooming. Let us also point out that the publication cited in the resolution was merely the precipitating incident. It can be regarded as the culmination of a trend that began long before the present Standard was adopted

Bad Advice Often Given

A dozen and more years ago there were voices of experience who advised the novice that he could improve his dogs chances if he were to "pluck just a little here and there". But although the standard at the time made no mention of the subject, the voices then were always pitched at a whisper and the advice was invariably preceded by "I shouldn't say this" or "it isn't really the right thing to do, but..

Such advice has continued over the years. But over the years in spite of the revised Standard and in the face of more stringent AKC rules the preamble has been dropped, and so has the conspiratorial whispers. Judges are seen to give such advice in full sight and earshot of ringside and even to include it in a published critique. But such steps, rather widely spaced in the experience of any one person, we have come to the stage where a highly responsible breeder-exhibitor writes, in all good faith, a set of instructions such as those cited. This then is why the resolution was passed. Within the large and representative group of Parent-Club members at the meeting, there was no question but that the proper preparation of the Afghan Hound for exhibition was limited to cleaning, brushing and/or combing. Plainly, however, there are some fanciers and judges who have come to believe that the Standard was not meant to exclude judicious trimming. Writings such as the book cited can hardly serve but to increase their number, especially around the borders of the fancy.

Why Not Trim

There is not space at this time to explain fully why any and all cutting or abrading of hair must be prohibited on the Afghan Hound. Indeed it should go without saying - but that's where all this started, isn't it?

Well, then, the bare logic is thus; Its distinctive natural coat pattern is an essential feature of the breed. To preserve the pattern you would breed only to individuals and lines that have it. On a trimmed dog you do not know for sure what the natural pattern is. Close inspection will show there has been trimming but it's often impossible to tell just where it started and stopped.

Except for a tendency of the saddle to fill (sometimes temporarily) on heavily coated dogs, we don't know that there is or has been any danger to date of actually losing our pattern in the breed. We haven't seen many furry faces of real bushy tails. But then again, maybe we would have if it weren't for "clever presentation". Our personal hunch, however is that most of the trimming done has been a matter of a few touches to make a good one look better, and not to disguise faults. The fact still remains that a good Afghan Hound needs no trimming. And we all want good ones.

2A. DONALD A SMITH, AHCA President President 1955 - 1959 and 1961-1966
Afghan Hound Club Of America, in AK Gazette
Judging The Afghan Hound
(Extract, last two paragraphs of article)

A point of particular dismay - and an event we have witnessed quite often over many years - are Judges including highly respected ones, who advise exhibitors to strip a saddle or "clean up" jaw and whiskers. (And this is saying nothing of the general prevalence of Judges who ignore the obvious results of such barbering. The standard is so very explicit on this point that its violation seems to us clear cause for disqualification under present show rules. Mind you, we do not say that our Standard is not open to thoughtful discussion and constructive criticism among fanciers. But the place to amend it is not in the ring on the day. The judge who does so is tossing long and serious study right out the window as well as cheating those who paid for his judgment on the basis of the standard.


The Board of Directors of The Afghan Hound Club of America appointed itself as the Committee to write an interperative text of the Afghan Hound Standard. This interperation was to be used along with an Illustrated Standard to educate judges of the breed. The request was originally made by the American Kennel Club. Below is the AHCA BOD's statement as regards coat trimming etc-

"At a year of age, many Afghans are gawky, fuzzy teen-agers, and over-anxious exhibitors artfully trim a saddle for the show ring - a flagrant violation of the Standard's calling for a "natural" dog. With each change of coat length, texture and pattern, the whole appearance of the Afghan hound changbes, and the judge must understand these changes and learn to look through the coat, rather than at it. Short hair, in the form of "cuffs" over over the pasterns and hocks, remains perfectly permissable, as is a natural "mane" that extends on some Afghans from the top knot to withers - or, in the reverse, natural short hair on the back of the neck. Clipper marks or other trimming on necks, saddles, faces and bodies sholkd be penalized as with any other flagrant deviation from the Standard. Artful trimming can obscure or conceal defects, particularly of feet or hocks

Clipper marks or other trimming on necks, saddles, faces and bodies should be "PENALAIZED"
(AHCA Board Of Directors 1985 " interperative text of the Afghan Hound Breed Standard")

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Breed Correspondent

In his references to trimming and action, Mr. Hopton (Ed note; Harry Charles Hopton canine writer and dog show judge) raises two very important points. It is not always fair to take one's impressions from photographs, but from the many I have seen of American exhibits of the breed, it seems to me that our friends in the States are "grooming" their Afghans into what are perilously near being caricatures of their race. Indeed, the photographed Afghans look as artificial as cinema stars on the screen, or, alternatively they give the impression of being destined for a box at the Opera on a gala night, only requiring a necklace and perhaps a Tiara to complete the picture.

The Afghan is a rough, tough dog, and it was never meant to be what those American photographs depict it as being. Admittedly those Afghans look lovely, but they are smoothed-out and titivated to an extreme that is totally contrary to the true ideal. That phrase "with a graceful outline" which Mr. Hopton quotes from the American Standard, was in the standard of our pioneer organization, the now defunct Afghan Hound Club, BUT although it was never misinterpreted here it does look as if it were being so in the States. The Afghan has a "graceful outline" but all the same "graceful" is not the most appropriate word to apply to a rugged breed such as this. Anyway I prefer the wording of our present organization's (The Afghan Hound Association) standard in this respect; "The whole appearance of the dog should give the impression of strength and activity, combing speed with power. The object of the dog is to hunt its quarry over very rough and mountainous ground a country of crags and ravines".

Mr. Hopton is strongly against the over-trimming of Afghans, but he suggests "the removal of whiskers or smellers and ragged feathering on feet." But why remove what is absolutely essential to the dog as a coursing hound in its native land? The "ragged feathering on feet" is very necessary to protect the feet in the hard going of Afghanistan and the Afghan's feet are a very important part of it. And once we start snipping bits off her and other bits off there, where is the trimming to end?

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Afghan Hound Presentation
(extract 8th/9th paragraphs)
March 1969

The one area of agreement appears to be the subject of coat-shaping. It is a disgusting practice, observed by only a very few. The coat that has been shaped by masterful scissor work loses the natural and most unique coat pattern that so characterizes our breed.

Shaping is done to give a faulty dog a more typical silhouette. It can make a long body appear shorter, a short dog appear taller on his legs, a short neck can appear longer, straight shoulders can appear to be laid back, the croup can be made to appear steeper, rear angulation can be accentuated, and the front legs can appear to be set further under the dog.

Stripping as practiced by the professional and his followers, is generally utilized when cleaning unwanted hair from the saddle and head, while the stripping-in of an entire saddle is classified more as a shaping technique.

The Afghan Hound Club Of America has firmly upheld the "no trimming' clause but until the professionals stop stripping, anyone wishing to compete on equal footing shall continue to make use of the stripping knife.

Whether one trims their dogs or not is a matter of conscience, conflicting with their desire to win

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JUNE 1967
Clarifying Afghan Trimming

A few months ago a letter was reprinted from a breeder-judge containing some controversial sentences on "trimming" Afghans. To give a little perspective to that article it should be told that it was originally written in 1963 for the North California Afghan Hound Club newsletter (which I edited at the time) as part of a "Judges Viewpoint" series. It caused little flurry in the club, being taken along with other "viewpoints" as "one persons opinion". Also, some extenuating circumstances were known. This judge was based in an area where the few local Afghans shown were frequently beaten by visiting Afghans from California - sometimes because the indigenous hounds were rarely put down conditioned or presented as well as the visitors.

This state of affairs was annoying to the judge, who suspected that better presentation could even things up and, as it happened, the local exhibitors did take the hint and began to bathe, groom etc with more care and now take a larger share of the class ribbons.

I have discussed this letter with the judge in question who confided to me, somewhat embarrassedly, that she certainly had no intention of crating a climate where "anything goes" in the stripping department but that there is just no sense in taking into a ring a dog which is not looking its best. Her point centered about the untidy saddle. There are prolonged periods where saddles are "half-in" and "half-out" leaving unsightly tufts of hair over shoulders, base of tail, and perhaps on part of the loin - all detracting from the true topline. She was perfectly aware (as are most old-timers in the breed) that the Group winners and BIS Afghans did not go into the rings with half-fuzzed saddles. Actually, owners of almost all SHOW DOGS - even the shortest-haired breeds strive for the final point of perfection and trim hair about the ear-tips, elbows, or toes, etc. It is accepted among owners who have tasted success that when one goes to a party one looks his very best:. This judge is very proud of the show -ring record our breed has made, and her sorrow is in seeing good but untidy and untrained dogs go down to those with less type but better presentation. She speaks with a mental picture of experience, from 25 years in the making, and in truth has only said aloud what many have said secretively. Having originally been responsible for the printing of the letter I feel bad about the misunderstanding. The fact of the matter is that if our Afghans were truly shown in their "Natural State" as stipulated by the Standard, they would be unwashed and uncombed as well as untrimmed (except by rain and bramble bushes). But from the day they entered this country as show-dogs, they have been bathed, brushed and, within varying limits, "trimmed". Until the advent of the really heavy coats, such trimming was restricted to unwanted saddle hair, and possibly eliminating some jowl and neck hair, much of which was transitory in nature. As coats grew heavier more persistent trimming also became more intense, spreading to actual clippering and scissoring of cheeks, necks and saddle-lines and finally to shaping, in a most professional beauty shop manner, of shoulders (to show angulation) creating whole saddles accentuating "tuck ups" and I have recently seen some amazing jobs of hind leg trimming to intensify the look of stifle angulation. In other words we have come from simple "tidying up" to falsifying the dog. The Parent Club and some fanciers are loudly screaming, "HALT" against an engulfing tide, and with good reason.

Afghan Trimming
JULY 1967

It is my personal feeling that the problem is one of DEGREE. As I do wash and brush my dogs, I feel there is little wrong with "plucking" (with fingers) of the semi-loose fluff from a saddle that refuses to clear neatly. When a bladed tool is used, it does become "trimming and clipping" and a blatant infringement of the standard is that nowhere does it mention that Afghans can be a very slow maturing breed (and this is not a new situation) and that Afghans which have not broken complete saddles by the age of 12 months are not to be penalized at that time, as they now can be, according to "Faults; Lack of shorthaired saddle in mature dogs". This sentence is responsible for a lot of artificial saddle work. I greatly disapprove of putting saddles on adolescents where the fuzzy coats indicate the prematurity of it, but most admit some sympathy for the owner whose handsome puppy has dropped a clean mark of saddle just behind the withers, and then drops no more for many months, giving the effect of a terribly dip-backed hound. The temptation to carry that smooth patch the full-length of the back would be very strong indeed, especially when the short saddle hair can be seen and the fluff is loose enough to pull but too tight to brush out.

I recall visiting the home of a breeder-judge with my first Afghan, a dog without enough long hair to give me any grooming worries at all, but he did recover his saddle with hidden dark red fuzz an inch long every year. I recall having it suggested that I snatch out a bit of the fluff every time I passed the dog. Only later did I understand the deviousness of this.

Talking purely personally, I think it unfair to discourage novices from plucking hair that is clearly transitory, and I doubt that such a ban could be made effective. But the actual sculpturing of necks, shoulders, legs, etc, by means of clippers and scissors, often leaves tell-tale marks and the discerning judge should levy penalties here. Unfortunately, the worst infringes will be the most skillful ones and therefore most apt to pass unnoticed, while the emulating amateur will leave a mile-wide trail and bear the brunt of any punishments. It is a constant problem in the breed and one that is bound to get worse before it gets any better

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Members of Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago
April 1967

We, the members of the Afghan Hound Club of Greater Chicago, believe that statements presented on the judging of the Afghans which appeared in the January issue may mislead the new fanciers. We herewith present out interpretation of the Standard as approved by the Afghan Hound Club Of America.

The breed standard is the common ground on which exhibitor and judges meet. We take exception to several statements made in direct conflict to our Breed Standard, This article advised that the Afghan Hound should be "trimmed, plucked and stripped" in preparation for the show ring. There was even an implication that artificial coloring could add "glamour" to our Breed.

One of the most definite statements in the current Afghan Standard is as follows' "The Afghan Hound is shown in its natural state, the coat is not clipped or trimmed; the head is surmounted (in the full sense of the word) with a topknot of long silky hair - this also an outstanding characteristic of the Afghan Hound. Showing of short hair on cuffs on either front or back legs is permissible.

Faults: Lack of Short haired saddle, in mature dogs. For many years, breeders have hoped for more rigid enforcement in the ring of the above requirement for showing in the natural state. It is surely doing our breed a disservice when these dogs lacking natural coat pattern are successfully presented with a variety of artful, but unnatural camouflage jobs. The natural coat pattern has been called for in the earliest standards of our breed, both in Great Britain and the United States. Our current standard refers to the pattern as "peculiar to the breed" and requires a natural saddle and a natural short haired area in front of the shoulder. It allows short hair on the cuffs of front and rear legs.

Any need to trim has arisen from the attempt to breed heavier and heavier coated Afghans which have unfortunately often had the undesirable added affect of destroying the natural pattern of our Hounds. Judges who condone this lack of natural pattern are ignoring a fault specified in our standard in not dismissing those specimens from the ring for not being shown in their natural state.

Our Afghan Hound was not bred for glamour; he was a working, hunting hound in his homeland. Our duty as breeders is to maintain him as we found him. To make a glamorous, clipped pet is to ignore our responsibility and to destroy the purpose of our breed.

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Coat trimming and sculpting is one of the biggest abuses in our breed today. Unless it is done extremely expertly, it can be very obvious to the breeder-judge

The dog, especially the wavy-coated one, who is trimmed from occiput to shouldrs, then down the length of the saddle and part way out the fail, is grotesque-looking. So is the Afghan whose undereline is obviously trimmed off in a diagonal line - Feet which are too fully-coated and give the effect that a dog is "standing in a couple of pie pans" are also trimmed. Or maybe if a dog toes out, the hair is trimmed off on the out-side of the foot.

Tails that are too bushy are often trimmed out, and the necks ---- ah, the necks. For some reason it is thought that a long neck (generally suspended from a tight choke chain) makes a dog look more elegant. In pursuit of the long-necked look, then, some people take the neck down on top from the base of the skull to the shoulders, others take off all the throat hair, and still others take everything off all the way around. In 25 years of owning Afghan Hounds I have never seen a heavily-coated dog, with a neck naturally bare, except in a few dogs, now rare, who have a small naturally short-haired patch on either side of the neck.

It would seem to me that no one should have to guess, if the head is up here and the shoulders are down there, what all that area in between is. Heavily-coated dogs though it may be, it must be the animals neck and any judge with an eye for balance ought to be able to see it with or without its natural adornments.

Recently, we are seeing a new and truly grotesque phenomemom, some handlers are gathering the head hair and that on the upper part of the ears and ratting it and ratting it until it looks something like a fright wig. This does not really mae a topknot look more profuse, nly bizarre. We are seeing more and more hounds in the ring every week with badly receding hairlines and sparse topknots, and heaven help the owners of the dogs who try to follow this fad, as the topknots may eventually all break off in their hands.

The bushyt-tailed, fuzzy-saddled, long neck-haired dog of the less sophisticated exhibitor does look scruffy compared to the carefully delianated dog of the seasoned exhibitor or professional handler, and the dog which very obviously has been trimmed not too expertly should be penalized accoring to our Standards dictum on "natural state", but it is really too bad to put a good dog down due to the lack of expertise on the part of its owner, particularly when the dog standing next to it very likely has been trimmed in as many or more places by an expert.
Georgia Guthrie (Charikar Afghan Hounds, USA) 1980

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Above all, try to play the game square.. Just remember that when you manage to win unfairly, you aren't fooling anyone but yourself and some novice, and you are losing the respect of the people who count. When you walk into the ring with a dog which is clipped and scissored to try to hide faults, you come out with the same dog, a dog with no neck or bad feet, etc. Why not just try to breed another, and correct its faults? I refuse to put up a dog which isn't "in its natural state" as the Standard calls for. Because someone else is unethical, is no excuse for you to be".
Reigh Abrams (Dureigh)

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9 Michael Canalizo - Sighthound Review 2010

If I were to single out one thing that needs to be confronted by all, at every level, it would be the disregard for presenting this breed in its natural state no clipping or trimming. This has gotten out of hand the world over. I refused to give any obviously trimmed dog an Excellent when I judged at the World Dog Show in 2009. Every breed standard in every registry supports this directive, and because it is being disregarded the breed is becoming a caricature. Another mentor, Conni Miller, cast this warning in the early 70s, and it was ignored then, too! The Afghan Hound has allure because of the illusion the unique coat pattern holds, but to sculpt the breed into an obtuse outline defeats the standards intentions.

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10 Bo Bengston UK Afghan Hound Year Book 1984

1984 USA - The past year probably wont go down in American Afghan history as the greatest ever; entries were neither up nor down, no new sensational starts appeared on the scene, and the most discussed subject by far was the question "to trim or not to trim". To a vertain extent most Afghan people everywhere have probably always trimmed, but the degree to which trimming has been taken in the American rings today (and the incredible sophistication with which it is done) almost makes one long for the hairy yaks of the "bad old 1960's" - which today are now generally and supercilliosly regarded as the days when more was always better. The problem of course is that it is almost impossible to detect trimming done by an expert; naturally patterned dogs which have not had so much as a hair removed have been accused (by both judges and ringsiders) of having been trimmed, while others held up as shining examples of "natural beauty" if the truth were known may have been subjected to hours of plucking, triping or even clipping. Some say that the whole thing is a storm in a teacup, that we should learn to look beyond coat and concentrate on conformation insteadm while others are genuinely concerned that the age old typical coat pattern may be disapearing completely from the breed. (Bo Bengston. AHYB 1984)

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10b Mrs Boger (Doreborn) "No Trimming To Be Done"

Sept 1941 - quote from Mrs Boger's Afghan hound breed column; "At our February meeting it was definitely decided by the members that absolutely no trimming is to be done on Afghans. The Afghan whiskers are a characteristic of the breed, and he sheds his coat naturally where it should be shed, without benefit of the pluckng knife. Let us leave him as he is
(source AHC N California Newsletter Sept 1968).

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12. Ruth Fairlie Afghan Hound World Congress, 1997
Something different now caused very polarised opinions when Lotte Jorgansen and Kirsten Nielsen gave a Trimming, Grooming and Handling Demo. What a lovely model they had with their black bitch who stood so patiently for them. Her saddle, sides of head and neck, then tail, were all completely smoothed to enhance her houndy lines and this found favour with all bar we Brits. Zita Fogarty spoke up for us, asking what about the clause in the standard that says the coat should be allowed to develop naturally"? Through all the arguments I had the impression of a real division of thought and felt most everyone regarded our side as pretty old hat and many of our hounds likewise. My own view is it can all go too far, creating a race of show puppets rather than the original Afghans of their native land. Look what America did to the English Cocker - now there are two different breeds altogether.

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12. Espen Engh, Afghan Hound World Congress 2014 on Trimming/Stripping


We have included just the bullet points on coat trimming from Espen's presentation. a FULL version of Espen's wonderful presentation including BREED HISTORY and his section on the Afghan Hound's coat can be found here


  •  Is the coat of todays Afghans typical?
  •  Despite what the standard says: stripping is widespread and tolerated.
  •  Can we breed without using scissors?


  •  One of the breeds unique traits.
  • Natural patterning seldom seen today.
  •  Is it treasured? It should!
  •  Do Afghan people know what it looks like, and what to look for?
  •  Even breed specialists can question patterned Afghans.


  • Are the coats of todays Afghan Hounds typical?
  •  To win seems to be the only thing that matters.
  •  Lots of different opinions regarding what is correct.
  •  Coat has always been highly treasured among breed people, now more than ever.


  •  Standard:
  •  Long and very fine texture on ribs, fore and hindquarters and flanks.
  •  Only asking for silky hair on topknot
  •  Pasterns can be bare.
  •  Any evidence of clipping or scissoring should be penalized


  •  Standard:
  •  Thick silky hair, very fine in texture
  •  Should be shown in its natural state, the coat is not clipped or trimmed
  •  Fault lack of shorthaired saddle in mature dogs.


  •  More focus on correct coat texture.
  •  If correct coat quality less maintenance and often less amount.
  •  Natural life, the guarding of the coat is hysterical. Wrapping, no free exercise, all to grow more coat
  •  Newcomers? Some are shocked to see how Afghans are kept, just to grow coat.
  •  We need newcomers, both inside and outside the showring.
  •  A good Afghan coat should only acquire a weekly bath/brushing as an adult.

  • TRIMMING scissoring?

  • NO STRIPPING/TRIMMING "Contrary to the Breed Standard and the interests of the breed"
    (Donald A Smith, President AHCA, 1959 statement on behalf AHCA)


  • A brush and a comb is no longer what is needed to groom an Afghan Hound, unfortunately.
  •  When did it start, and why?
  •  How did Afghan people suddenly find out that we need to cut, clip and scissor our dogs?
  •  Almost never penalized, even if the standard ask for a natural developed coat with no traces of clipping or scissoring. What if the eyes are too light, the bite is incorrect, poor angels? Penalized!
  •  Little knowledge among judges.
  •  BIG responsibility among breeders.
  •  Too few stands up for their believes
  •  Too few have respect for the standard.
  •  Only we can make a stop to what has happened.
  •  Afghan Hounds should not be shaped, they should have a natural look to them.


  •  If trimming needs to be done, use your fingers or tools that will leave a natural look.  Natural saddles can be achieved if people are patient.
  •  Clipping machines should not be a part of the household
  •  Breed without scissoring ?
  •  Definitely possible?
  •  Who is willing to change?
  •  Knowledge and respect.
  •  Correct coats do not need to be scissored!!!!!!!!!!

FULL version of Espen's wonderful presentation including BREED HISTORY and his section on the Afghan Hound's coat can be found here

Related Content
US Afghan Hound Breed Standard Study of Working
Documents By Steve Tillotson, March 2014

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