Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)

USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard
The Classical Compromise
By Steve Tillotson, February 2012

We all have views on the Afghan Hound Breed Standard(s). I suggest it is not a "blueprint" that pictorially and/or definitively describes the Afghan hound. You couldn't pick up the standard and give it to a manufacturer and say, "here you are, go make 1000 models of this dog". The manufacturer would be stymied by the vagaries and ambiguities of the "blueprint" you just provided. The Breed Standard is not prescriptive, it is a "word picture" conjured up by the committee(s) who drew up the definition, colored by those committee(s) members personal agenda's to establish a standard as close as possible to their type of Afghan Hound. Yes, this is a cynical view of the various standards making bodies, however "truth is a defense".

Let's start with a recap of the history of US Afghan Hound Breed Standards

(1) 1926 first AHCA standard (a "sketchy" standard, loosely based on the 1925 English AHC standard, (describing a Bell-Murray type of hound)

(2) 1948-Date USA Afghan Hound Club Of America Breed Standard

To dismiss a "myth". If your name is Amps or Pauptit, you will likely claim that the Afghan Hound Breed Standard is based on Zardin and Sirdar Of Ghazni. All breed standard committees claim they based their breed standard on "Zardin". Sirdar Of Ghazni did influence standard making, largely in the UK with the disgraceful 1927 UK breed standard that was so biased, it included words designed to exclude "Bell-Murray" (so called, and erroneously so called "Desert or Plains Type"). Fortunately the next UK standard committee wasn't entirely made up of Ghazni fanciers so the outcome was a little more open minded.

Ms Pauptit has stated that she considers the two types (Ghazni/Bell-Murray) to be different breeds. Reigh Abrams (Dureigh, USA), based on her early breeding experience also wrote that she considered the two types to be different breeds. Therein lies a "truth". Please visit the Origins section for more information about the original imports. Clearly there were multiple (more than two) types and quite likely, few were 'purebred". The pioneer breeders in the UK started out with a bunch of similar looking "mongrels" and, then by selectively breeding for particular traits, they created the Afghan Hound as we know it today.

Prior to 1948 (when the current USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard was approved by the AKC) the Americans used an early version of the English Standard. By the late 1940's the breed was well established in the US and there were lots of new people, and new (well, different) types of dogs/imports coming into the country. This may have been the trigger for the American's deciding to write their own standard, to reflect what then existed in the USA as opposed to what they originally imported? Here are some comments and observations attributed to several of those involved in writing the 1948 standard -

Lea McConaha (Khanhasset).
Interesting to note that in 1946 Lea McConaha had won Group at the Garden with Ch Ali Khyber. Lea McConaha also won the Afghan Hound Club Of America Specialty for the years 1946/47 with Karach of Khanhasset and also in 1948 with Karan of Khanhasset, both Afghan Hounds sired by Ch Ali Khyber. So leading into the 1948 standard revision, Lea McConaha would have assumed a particular currency and relevance.

Ch Ali Khyber was one of the bigger Afghan Hounds around, he stood a little over 28 inches, he also had a very thick stand-off type coat which the breed hadn't seen before. The coat probably came down via the Dam lines (Pommel Rock) that were entirely different to the sire (Rudiki Of Prides Hill) coats. Pommel Rock pedigrees go back to the UK imported Afghan lines from India - Khan Baber and Dakkas Delight. These lines introduced a richness of coat to the breed in England. A line and feature developed by Mrs Olive Couper (Garrymhor, UK). The dam side of Ali Khyber's pedigree also includes Garrymhor ancestry

Ali Khyber did a lot of winning, so the standard was changed from "Long and Silky" to "Long Thick and Silky".

Marjorie Lapthorp (Majara)
In the discussion period 1946-1948 Majara had done a lot of winning also, particularly with Ch Majara Maharbat who was not a large dog, about 27 inches. Ms Lapthorp really fought to keep size down and eventually won on that point. It appears the compromise was to concede Lea McConah's demands for change in coat description, and in return Lea McConah conceded the argument on size.

Mrs. Kench Owen
Mrs Owen stated that an issue for many was "white markings" and many wanted to make them a disqualification (despite many of the foundation Afghan Hounds being blazed). So the compromise here was to make white markings "undesirable".

Mrs. Kench Owen (who's Stepfather was Chris Knudson Of Riverside Afghan Hounds) wanted to debate the issue of size also. Her concerns were twofold - firstly that European Imports carried way too much bone for a coursing hound and even when mated with American Hounds, this often produced big boned offspring. Secondly the problem with "height" was not excessive height but bad shoulders. Because of the lack of lay-back shoulders were very very steep. However, Mrs. Owen didn't press either of these issues, as she feared that it would cause problems with other people wanting other changes.

Whilst the above is just a glimpse behind the scenes on the issue of compromise, clearly compromises occured. Thus we didn't ever get from any standards making committee, USA, UK or wherever, an objective document, we always got one overly influenced by personal agenda's, particularly from people who were at the top of the breed at that time by virtue of their show successes and their influence in the club organization.


I have many enjoyable memories of Don Smith (the longtime AHCA President who died last spring), including working with him and Dorothy Macdonald on the revised breed history of the Afghan Hound for the AKC “Complete Dog Book”, and consulting with Don about what Afghan Hound had been the most influential sire and dam in this country. Now I want to share with you some information Don gave me about our Breed Standard.

In 1926 the American Kennel Club opened its Stud Book to Afghan Hounds and adopted a brief, descriptive Standard from British sources. The Afghan Hound Club of America, which began forming in 1937, applied for membership in the AKC and the application was accepted in early 1940. Many people wanted the Standard “clarified” or rewritten, but it was not until February 1946 that the AHCA established a committee for the study of the Standard.

The committee chairman, Mrs. William Porter, submitted two versions of the Standard in September 1946. Much discussion and argument followed. Action was postponed at the February 1947 membership meeting so that more members could present their ideas to the committee. In August 1947 a new committee was appointed: Charles Wernsman of Arken fame and Mrs. Muriel Boger, another noted breeder; the chairman of the committee was Charlotte Coffey.

The controversy about the Standard had ripped the club apart, and Charlotte was determined to produce a Standard that would be approved by the membership. This meant getting Mr. Wernsman and Mrs. Boger to agree on some compromises: Arken Afghan Hounds had level bites, so Charlie Wernsman wanted a level bite to be required. Muriel Boger wanted a scissors bite to be required. Look at the compromise that Charlotte Coffey worked out: “… the jaws long and punishing, the mouth level, meaning that the teeth from the upper jaw and lower jaw match evenly, neither overshot nor undershot. This is a difficult mouth to breed. A scissors bite is even more punishing and can be more easily bred into a dog than a level mouth, and a dog having a scissors bite where the lower teeth slip inside and rest against the teeth of the upper jaw should not be penalized.”

The Standard sounds as though the people who wrote it could not make up their minds. It almost seems to contradict itself. “… a scissors bite is even more punishing.” Wouldn’t you think the more punishing bite would be the most desirable? But first preference seems to be given to a level mouth because it is listed first. And the even more punishing scissors bite “… should not be penalized.” Saying it should not be penalized implies that the level mouth is preferable.

Related content
US Afghan Hound Breed Standard Study of Working Documents By Steve Tillotson, March 2014
Indian Kennel Gazette Description of Zardin 1906 (precursor breed standard)
The Afghan Hound Breed Standard - WHY? By Donald A Smith 1961
Reigh Abram (Dureigh) Comments on The Breed Standard
The Afghan Hound Standard In Detail by Eta Pauptit, 1976
US Current Breed Standard 1948
USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard (1946) Discussions, By Johannah Kench-Owen 1977
Afghan Hound History, comments by Constance O, Miller, May 1967
UK Current Breed Standard Revised 1986
UK Early Breed Standard,1946
Recognition of the Afghan hound by The Kennel Club 1926
Mrs Drinkwater (Geufron) and Dr Porter (el Kabul) re differences in type (Bell-Murray and Ghazni)
Shahzada/Zardin and the Afghan Hound Breed Standard
Afghan breeders turn back the clock to the Amps and their early imports (Bill Hall, c1975)
Afghan Controversy UK 1926 What is the correct type?

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Early Afghan Hounds
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