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Shahzada/Zardin and the Afghan Hound Breed Standard
(Author Steve Tillotson, June 2011)

Recently I posted an article Two Early Afghan Hounds (Shahzada and Mooroo), a compilation article involving the writings of Connie Miller (USA) and Dennis McCarthy (UK). In so doing, I included some words from Dennis McCarthy's book. I posted the following extract -

On page 14 Dennis continues ......

"When I discovered the stuffed bodies of Shahzada and Mooroo were still owned by the British Museum and stored at their depot at Tring in Hertfordshire, I wrote asking if I could borrow them to exhibit at a show I was organising. At the time I was Secretary of the Midland Afghan Hound Club. The dogs created a great deal of attention and were seen by Dr Betsy Porter (el Kabul Afghan Hounds, UK), who was was a member of that Afghan Comittee in the early 1930's which saw the portrait of Zardin, When Dr Porter saw the stuffed Shahzada she turned to me beaming and said "That's the dog we saw at the Museum. That's the dog on which we based the breed standard". I made a note at the time (9 October 1965). Dr Porter said that with one minor fault she thought Shahzada the perfect Afghan Hound and said I could quote her at any time."


I went back and re-read the section in Dennis's book, and in the next paragraph he writes......

"So have we been crediting the wrong dog for the Afghan Hound breed standard? I believe so - and this book (The Afghan Hound by Dennis McCarthy, published by Bartholomew 1977) is the first breed book to say so"

WOW, well that's a show stopper isn't it!

Let's investigate Dennis's statement further. He references Dr Porter being a member of the Afghan Hound Standards Committee "in the early 1930's". I believe Dennis mis-remembered. The 1930's (actually 1927) Standard Committee comprised of Mrs Amps, Mrs Robson, Mrs Bradshaw, all founding members of the Afghan Hound Association, all Ghazni enthusiasts. Dr Porter was a member of the 1946 Afghan Breed Standards Committee which included Mrs Robson, Mrs Bradshaw and 11 other AHA members, including Dr Porter !!

I have no reason to doubt, (and noting that Dennis actually made a written note dated 9 October 1965) that Dennis had this conversation with Dr Porter and/or that Dr Porter actually made the statement about Shahzada being the model for the (1946) standard. I would suggest however that likely Dr Porter simply mixed up the name of Zardin/Shahzada when talking to Dennis about the stuffed Afghan (Shahzada). I remain convinced that the model for the standard continues to be Zardin.

I hadn't remembered until posting the Miller/McCarthy compilation article that the Standards Committee (1946) had visited Shahzada in the British Museum as part of their standards making process. I think Dennis's reference to this visit is the only such reference I can recall. Isn't that an interesting event - Top breeders of the day, going to visit a stuffed afghan as part of their considerations of a new breed standard. Really! Why?

Shahzada pre-dates the 1946 standards committee by some 65 years. Shahzada is of course interesting as a "preserved" early example of the breed, but what could the committee have gotten out of viewing Shahzada when they had real living Afghans to study and debate? Had it been Zardin that had been stuffed and preserved, the visit would have made some sense, but Shahzada was just another interesting Afghan, but of no other particular signifigance to the breed? Further, as Dennis states in his book - he spoke to the taxidermist company who stuffed Shahzada and that the Taxidermist company stated "it is extremely difficut to present an animal exactly as it was when living, Dennis also mentions in his book that "if they did have access to a stuffed animal and a portrait, they would take more notice of the stuffed animal. After all, portrait painters asre nortorious for covering up warts and beautifying all that is left".

I'm impressed that the 1946 Standards Committee actually viewed and considered Shahzada's type and attributes, plus (according to, and by implication of Dennis's words) that the committee viewed portrait paintings of early Afghan Hounds as part of their standard making process.

What all of the above achieves is to "promote" Shahzada to something more than a mere stuffed relic. Whilst all evidence remains convincing that Zardin is the model for the breed standard, Shahzada also made a contribution, either by the visit resulting in members taking some positive points about Shahzada away from their viewing of him, or their deciding the contrary. The fact remains that this olde stuffed Afghan Hound had some impact (albeit unknown) in formulation of the 1946 standard!

1/24/2012 - We have recently obtained another photo of Shahzada and Moroo, taken at the British Museum by Murray Anderson (NZ - The "Travelling Tazi"). This photo is taken from a different (front) angle so gives a new view of these two hounds.

Afghan Hound Times photo - Shahzada and Moroo

Now what about Mooroo, the other stuffed Afghan Hound at the British Museum? Were the standards committee able to view her too??

Steve Tillotson, June 2011

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