Reflections on The Formulation of the
1946 USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard
By Johanna Kench-Owen 1977
(Mrs. Kench-Owen (Riverside Afghan hounds, USA) gave an interview in 1977, published in the Afghan Hound Review in which she reflected upon the discussions behind the formulation of the 1946 (approved by AKC 1948) US Afghan hound breed standard. The relevant section of that interview is given below)
Mrs. Kench-Owen starts out by explaining that back in the 1940's, prior to the revision of the standard that the American fancy was using the old English standard. "It wasn't revised until 1946. And I really don't know why! All of a sudden there was this big to do about it and the standard was going to be changed. (ED: see also Donald Smith article on why the standard was changed). A lot of the original Afghan people were slowing down in Afghans. Mrs. Hoyt (Blakeen) was just too involved with her Poodles and she felt that she could not do justice to the Afghans. Charlie Wernsman was getting quite old. He was old when he got into Afghans as he had bred his Collies, which are quite famous, for years before the Afghans, but we had a lot of new people coming into Afghans that had them as their main breed. This was about the time that Reigh and Dewey Abram (Dureigh) got in dogs. And Marjorie Lapthrop (Majara) also. So we felt very good about placing our best dogs with these new people who were really going to devote their time to them. Betsy and Jim Prior had an Arken bitch that had been bred to Rudiki so they were also getting into it. But we were guiding these people all along. They had our dogs and we would check up on them all the time and guide them along so they were breeding some very nice hounds.
Well, along about 1946 all of these new people started getting into Afghans and there were a lot of dogs of English and German bloodlines that were totally different than ours, and quite frankly, some of them really didn't look like the Afghans I had been seeing at all! A lot of these new people were advocating a change in the standard.
Marge Lathrop lived quite close to me and she would come over and tell me the results of the meetings as I wasn't too active in the club any longer. Charlie Wernsman had stayed in there and he was fighting like crazy to keep the standard the way it was, but he was only one person. So Marge would come over here and I would tell her and other old-time breeders would tell her what had to be saved in the original standard. I don't remember the specifics, but some of the things that they wanted to do were just horrible. Re the change in the description of the coat - Lea McConaha was on the committee and her dg Ali Khyber was sort of the start of the change in the breed. First of all, he was a little over 28 inches which made him quite large for those days, he was the tallest around. He also had a very thick, stand-off type coat, which we just didn't see before him. Ali Khyber did a lot of winning and so the standard was changed from "long and silky" to "long thick and silky:.
But they fought over this standard for two years. In 1948 they had finally agreed on most things except a lot of people wanted to increase the desired size, Well, Marge had just started doing a lot of winning with her Ch. Majara Mahabat and he was not a large dog, about 27 inches. She really fought to keep the size down and she was really a tough fighter so she won on that point. But a lot of the foreign dogs were really producing large dogs, even when bred to our American stock.
But to show you just how full of compromises this whole standard writing things was, since everyone had given in to Marge on the size thing, she had to give in somewhere. The other people wanted to make white markings a disqualification. We really screamed about that because so many of the rally important foundation animals were blazed that you really couldn't discard these animals and their descendants simply for a little white blaze. So we each gave a little and it is now listed as undesirable. We felt that keeping the size down was more important, so we gave a little on the white markings.
I can't remember who all those people advocating these changes were. And the reason I can't remember them is that they did nothing for the breed, they bred nothing that anyone remembers and they simply vanished.
Even though I wasn't exhibiting Afghans any longer I did go with Marjorie to a lot of the shows. We were showing a Best in Show Dane bitch and Marge was showing Mahabat so occasionally we would win two groups at shows. I really did stay right on top of the Afghans because I would always watch them.
Anyway, the standard was approved as it stands now and there is a pretty good track record 1948 - 1977 - 29 years. If you go through the book of standards you will find that on average all standards are revised every five to seven years. But for the most part I don't go along with these revisions. It seems that they are mainly changing the standard to fit the dogs that are being shown, instead of breeding the dogs to fit the standard. I mean, that is the name of the game! The average time people are in dogs is three to five years, and some of them have quite a lot to say during that time, including things about changing the standards. And since the Afghan standard has served us well for 29 years, I would personally oppose any change, whatsoever!! Once you start tampering with the standard at all, you are opening a whole can of worms and you'll just get into other problems.
At one time I thought there should be a disqualification on size. But again I felt that if this one thing was changed too many problems would arise with other people wanting other changes. It's a judge's obligation to stick to the size listed in the standard and if they cannot do that, they are not doing part of their job. If I was an exhibitor, I would not show an oversized dog.
Johanna Kench-Owen 1977
USA Afghan Hound Breed Standard, The Classical Compromise By Steve Tillotson, February 2012
The Afghan Hound Breed Standard - WHY? By Donald A Smith 1961
The Parent Club, AKC and the Afghan Hound Breed Standard Shake-Up .( by Peter Belmont Elmo, USA, 1985)
Indian Kennel Gazette Description of Zardin 1906 (precursor breed standard)
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
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