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.
2. COMPROMISE AND THE USA AFGHAN HOUND BREED STANDARD
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.
3. KARIN ARMISTEAD (AHCA Librarian) NOTES FROM AHCA NEWSLETTER 1999
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
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
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
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.
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?
Early Afghan Hounds
Go To Whats New
Library Of Articles/Main Menu Toolbar