The Essence Of The Afghan Hound
(In collaboration with The Afghan Hound Times)
The King Of Dogs
(First Printed and Reprinted with Permission by the AKC Gazette)
Author Patricia H. Gilbert
The General Appearance paragraph of the breed Standard sums up the essence or essential features of the Afghan Hound. Yes, this is a King of Dogs that has held true to tradition throughout the ages. King in the context of the Afghan Hound Standard is non-sexist and applies to both dogs and bitches. Dogs are masculine and bitches are feminine - this needs to be apparent from across the ring.
Here is an aristocrat whose whole appearance is one of dignity and aloofness. This must come through in the ring demeanor. You, judge or spectator, are the servants that are only tolerated when you treat the King with the respect the position deserves. The handler needs to permit the King freedom - no strung up tight lead - only a loose lead will do in order to see the King standing or moving.
This is not a servant that is lead or pulled around the ring. He needs to keep his dignity and independence intact at all times - both stacked and moving. This is a an arrogant, independent breed yet a strong functional hound.
When stacked and approached the King will tend to pull his head back. That is not a sign of shyness - it is an indication of a far-sighted sighthound attempting to refocus on this peasant that is approaching him. Prior to an approach the King is gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past. When approaching you are breaking the Kings concentration on his surroundings.
The head is carried proudly both stacked and moving - slightly forward, not the upright head carriage of the Poodle - but the proud carriage of a functional sighthound. The King moves with head and tail held high - high not upright. The exotic or Eastern expression adds to the King of Dogs appearance.
The Afghan Hound owns the ground the King walks on and covers. The King surveys his domain. There is pride in every stride - the whole appearance of the King is of great style and beauty.
The arrogance and carriage of this breed is essential from the slightly Roman appearing nose, long silky topknot and very prominent occipital bone, down the strong, arched neck, into the practically level topline, to a strong loin and prominent hipbones, to the tail that is set not too high, having a ring, or a curve on the end. The tail is carried high when moving - it is not required to be held high when stacked. Many handlers do their exhibit a disservice by attempting to hold the tail high when stacked. The King does many weird things to the tail when the King suffers this handling indignity.
When in the ring it is not necessary to feed, some call it baiting, the King. The King is an inquisitive sighthound who looks down his nose and gazes off into the distance, so generally there is a need to divert the attention from the ringside to the business at hand - showing off the King.
The Afghan Hound is the King of Dogs that has held true to tradition throughout the ages. It is up to us, breeder, exhibitor and judge to maintain this aristocrat as the King that they have been over the ages.
Patricia H. Gilbert, Columnist
Afghan Hound Club of America
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