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US Afghan Hound Breed Standard
Study of Working Documents
By Steve Tillotson, March 2014

http;// PHOTO Illustration AHCA 1946

We have a useful collection of archives and articles about the breed standards and have written various articles in the past on this subject. Since receiving the gift of the Henry Dietzgen Archives we have gained further information. We thought it helpful to put all this information into a single article so that readers can enjoy a consolidated insight into how the breed standards developed. This article is primarly focused on the US standard, but, and as readers will learn in this article, there are important connections/relationships with the UK breed standard, so by neccessity we have included some information on the UK's standard history as well.


The AKC accepted registrations for the Afghan hound in 1926. Coincidentally, also in 1926, the English Kennel Club recognised The Afghan hound fully by granting the breed separate classification at its dog showa. The Afghan hound breed standard in existance in 1926 was the worlds first Afghan hound breed standard, drawn up by the English Afghan Hound Club in 1924. This standard is also often referred to as "The Denyer Standard". AHC Breed Standard 1924/5 Fascimile

The situation regarding the first American breed standard is interesting. The AHCA on its website explains that the breed started out with a "sketchy Afghan Hound standard they had "bought" in 1926". A study of this standard reveals that a large part of it are similar to the wording of the 1925 AHC standard, but other parts of this early American standard we don't recognize as being related to the 1925 AHC standard or any other standard. It's almost as if somebody took the 1925 AHC standard, copied chunks of it and added some lines of their own. Anyway, it was what it was - the first American breed standard We show the original 1926 sketchy AHCA standard and the current standard side by side below for comparison purposes. As readers will observe, the first AHCA standard was very minimal indeed . In later discussion where we explore the various stages of breed standard development over the years,

General Appearance

Strong, alert, and active; looking a combination of speed and power, with a graceful outline
General Appearance

The Afghan Hound is an aristocrat, his whole appearance one of dignity and aloofness with no trace of plainness or coarseness. He has a straight front, proudly carried head, eyes gazing into the distance as if in memory of ages past. The striking characteristics of the breed-exotic, or "Eastern," expression, long silky topknot, peculiar coat pattern, very prominent hipbones, large feet, and the impression of a somewhat exaggerated bend in the stifle due to profuse trouserings-stand out clearly, giving the Afghan Hound the appearance of what he is, a king of dogs, that has held true to tradition throughout the ages.

Narrow conforming to that of a Greyhound but more powerful; skull oval, with prominent occiput; jaws long and punishing; mouth level, not overshot nor undershot; ears long;eyes dark; little or no stop.

The head is of good length, showing much refinement, the skull evenly balanced with the foreface. There is a slight prominence of the nasal bone structure causing a slightly Roman appearance, the center line running up over the foreface with little or no stop, falling away in front of the eyes so there is an absolutely clear outlook with no interference; the underjaw showing great strength, 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 occipital bone is very prominent. The head is surmounted by a topknot of long silky hair. Ears--The ears are long, set approximately on level with outer corners of the eyes, the leather of the ear reaching nearly to the end of the dog's nose, and covered with long silky hair. Eyes--The eyes are almond-shaped (almost triangular), never full or bulgy, and are dark in color. Nose--Nose is of good size, black in color. Faults--Coarseness; snipiness; overshot or undershot; eyes round or bulgy or light in color; exaggerated Roman nose; head not surmounted with topknot.

Long , strong, arched and running in a curve to the shoulder which should be long and sloping and well laid back.

The neck is of good length, strong and arched, running in a curve to the shoulders which are long and sloping and well laid back. Faults--Neck too short or too thick; a ewe neck; a goose neck; a neck lacking in substance.

Strong powerful loin, and slightly arched, falling away slightly towards the stern, well ribbed and tucked up under loins; should be that of a hound and have ample length ; Brisket deep and not too narrow; The tail set not too high on body, similar to Greyhound, having a curve at the end, but on no account a bushy tail

The back line appearing practically level from the shoulders to the loin. Strong and powerful loin and slightly arched, falling away toward the stern, with the hipbones very pronounced; well ribbed and tucked up in flanks. The height at the shoulders equals the distance from the chest to the buttocks; the brisket well let down, and of medium width. Faults--Roach back, swayback, goose rump, slack loin; lack of prominence of hipbones; too much width of brisket, causing interference with elbows.

See tail mentioned under body

Tail set not too high on the body, having a ring, or a curve on the end; should never be curled over, or rest on the back, or be carried sideways; and should never be bushy.

Forelegs straight and strong, great length between elbow and ankle, elbows well tucked in; forefeet very large both in length and breadth, toes well arched and the feet covered with long thick hair, fine in texture; pasterns long and pads well down on ground. Hindquarters powerful, well muscled, great length between hip and hock, this is one of the main features of the hound; fair bend of stifle. Hind feet broad but nos as long as forefeet; tpes arcjes; feet covered in long, thick hair..

Forelegs are straight and strong with great length between elbow and pastern; elbows well held in; forefeet large in both length and width; toes well arched; feet covered with long thick hair; fine in texture; pasterns long and straight; pads of feet unusually large and well down on the ground. Shoulders have plenty of angulation so that the legs are well set underneath the dog. Too much straightness of shoulder causes the dog to break down in the pasterns, and this is a serious fault. All four feet of the Afghan Hound are in line with the body, turning neither in nor out. The hind feet are broad and of good length; the toes arched, and covered with long thick hair; hindquarters powerful and well muscled, with great length between hip and hock; hocks are well let down; good angulation of both stifle and hock; slightly bowed from hock to crotch. Faults--Front or back feet thrown outward or inward; pads of feet not thick enough; or feet too small; or any other evidence of weakness in feet; weak or broken down pasterns; too straight in stifle; too long in hock.

Hindquarters, flanks, ribs and forequarters well covered with silky, thick hair, very fine in texture; ears and all four feet well feathered, head surmounted with top-knot of long silky hair.

Hindquarters, flanks, ribs, forequarters, and legs well covered with thick, silky hair, very fine in texture; ears and all four feet well feathered; from in front of the shoulders; and also backwards from the shoulders along the saddle from the flanks and the ribs upwards, the hair is short and close, forming a smooth back in mature dogs - this is a traditional characteristic of the Afghan Hound. The Afghan Hound should be shown in its natural state; the coat is not clipped or trimmed; the head is surmounted (in the full sense of the word) with a topknot of long, silky hair - that is also an outstanding characteristic of the Afghan Hound. Showing of short hair on cuffs on either front or back legs is permissible. Fault--Lack of shorthaired saddle in mature dogs.

Dogs about 27 inches, bitches 25 inches

Dogs, 27 inches, plus or minus one inch; bitches, 25 inches, plus or minus one inch.

About 60 pounds

Dogs, about 60 pounds; bitches, about 50 pounds.

Not mentioned.

All colors are permissible, but color or color combinations are pleasing; white markings, especially on the head, are undesirable.

Not mentioned

When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in his smooth, powerful stride. When on a loose lead, the Afghan can trot at a fast pace; stepping along, he has the appearance of placing the hind feet directly in the foot prints of the front feet, both thrown straight ahead. Moving with head and tail high, the whole appearance of the Afghan Hound is one of great style and beauty.

Not mentioned

Aloof and dignified, yet gay. Faults--Sharpness or shyness.

So, for both countries, if the existance of a breed standard was a precursor for Kennel Club Recognition of the breed - this recognition was based on a breed standard written by Bell-Murray enthusiasts (or in the case of the first American standard, pretty much a copy of the essence of the 1925 AHCA standard, with some unexplained additions). The Ghazni hounds didn't arrive in England until mid 1925 and no Ghazni influence existed in respect of breed standards until 1927 when the Afghan Hound Association produced its first breed standard. The 1925 AHC breed standard was pre-empted by a "Description Of Zardin" published in the Indian Kennel Club Gazette in 1906. This IKC description reads like a prototype breed standard, and could be taken as such. Both the English AHC and AHA claimed that they modelled their standards on Zardin (or perhaps more truthly, they wrote their standards, cognizant of the Zardin IKC pre-cursor standard). To complicate things a bit more, and to bury a myth for the umpteenth time - the UK breed standards were NOT based on Sirdar of Ghazni. What would be true to say is that "the influence of Mary Amps and her associates such as Phyllis Robson, Ivy Bradshaw who were all on the1927 AHA standards making committee, undoubtedly resulted in a standard being produced by the AHA in 1927 that strongly favoured Mary Amps Ghazni type That standard explicially excluded the Bell-Murray type. A war of words between Ghazni/Bell-Murray camps erupted Afghan Type Controversy. It took another two decades before the English updated and produced a somewhat harmonized breed standard in 1946 (approved by The KC in 1950). From 1926 through to 1948 the AHCA breed standard in use was the "sketchy" 1926 copy/variation of the AHC Bell-Murray type standard.

Of relevence to differences in standards is a discussion between Mrs Drinkwater (Geufron) and Dr Porter (el Kabul) regarding differences in type (Bell-Murray and Ghazni) as recorded in the Afghan Hound Association (England) Newsletter 1966, an extract with comments is included in Charles Harrisons book "The Afghan Hound" (5th Edition, 1979, page 39)


The Afghan Hound Club Of America didn't exist in the 1920's when the competing standards were written. AHCA started to emerge in the late 1930's (formed c. 1938.) AKC accepted AHCA as a member club in 1940. So the breed was actively developing in America around 1931 when the foundation hounds arrived from England, devoid of a parent club designed breed standard, It seems that the 'official" US Afghan hound breed standard was that sketchy 1926 standard that the AHCA had purchased.

In England, the founder members of the AHC included Jean Manson (Bell-Murray/Cove) and Evelyn Denyer (Bell-Murray/of Kaf). The AHC became defunct around 1931, Ms Manson having retired from the breed, Ms Denyer had married Mr Barton and emigrated to Malaysia and Major Bell-Murray had retired to Wales. Thus the powerhouses behind the AHC were no longer active and the remaining club (AHA) prospered and their standard prevailed.

UK Standards Timeline
1 1925 AHC standard (describing a Bell-Murray type of hound)
2 1927 An opposing and entirely different AHA standard (effectively describing a Ghazni type of hound)
3 1946 a revision of the 1927 AHA standard to produce todays more harmonious UK standard.

US Standards Timeline
1 1926 Sketchy AHCA standard - (With some similarties to the 1925 English AHC Bell-Murray type standard)
2 1946 A revised standard, the first standard written by the AHCA which remains as the current US standard.

If we assume each country followed its own countriy's breed standard then, from the outset, the two countries were breeding to two very different standards. And once the 1925 UK standard was displaced (c 1931) in England by the AHA standard , that gap/difference between UK/US standards widened considerably and lasted for two decades. Given that the two countries in the period 1931-1948/50 were breeding to two entirely different standards, is it reasonable to conclude that the US was breeding to a basic Bell-Murray model, whilst the UK fancy was breeding to a Ghazni flavoured model? Exploring this line of thought further might contribute towards a fuller understanding of why, from the early 1940's onward, that American breeders were often surprised by the look of English imports. The Americans often commenting that the English hound was larger, bigger boned, more heavily coated and had perhaps lost some of the houndiness and athleticism inherent in the breeds foundations?


In the case of the original 1926 American 'sketchy" standard (shown above alongside the current American standard), it was clearly a minimal standard providing a limited description of the Afghan hound and simply had to be revised. The AHCA's stated objective in revising the standard was to "expand and clarify" the existing standard.

In the case of the 1927 UK AHA standard we learn the following from the AHA's website - "At the request of the Kennel Club, a sub-committee was set up in 1946, to review and revise the Standard of Points, which had stood since 1927. It is worth quoting the relevant minute, "It was agreed that a lead be given to Continental clubs and American organizations, which had indicated their need for further information and a lead from the AHA and that, for the purpose of discussing the Standard of Points, a sub-committee be appointed."

An excellent perspective on why there was a need for the UK to revise their standard is given by Margaret Niblock on page 59 of her book "The Afghan Hound, A definitive Study". I quote below the salient words from Margaret's book -

"The Denyer Standard (AHC/1925) was to last until 1931, so the breed was now split firmly down the middle and faced the ludicrous situation of possessing two standards! It should be remembered that the KC did not control Breed standards until 1945. In spite of the breed's encouraging start its popularity was beginning to wane, chiefly due to internal arguments in the late twenties and early thirties. The new (1927) AHA standard was in use until 1946, also based on Zardin and with some similarity to the Denyer, it gave a more detailed description of the head, hair arrangement, nose and eye colour and added another inch to the size. However, in the hounds "general balance" was added the extraordinary sentence that - "The object of the dog is to hunt its quarry over very rough and mountainous ground in a country of crags and ravines". For this purpose the dog was now to be compact and well coupled and to have "plenty of bend to hock and stifle and well under the dog. Its initial speed considered necessary was reduced by the loss of the slightly long arched loin. The tail, not mentioned in the Denyer standard, was to be carried gaily - a direct contradiction of Zardin's , described by the Indian Kennel Gazette as "usually carried low". The description of certain points in this standard was unmistakably influenced by two Ghazni imports, Khan and Sirdar, but the Ghazni bitches, all of light-coated Bell-Murray type, could not have been considered. Mrs Amps, who, we are told, was President of the committee which drew up this standard, lived only in and around the mountainous areas of Kabul and seems to have ignored the vast areas of desert and fertile flat-land in the rest of Afghanistan, where the most suitable game for sighthound coursing abounded. This AHA standard highlights the dangers of including individual preferences, which could prove detrimental to overall breed type by breeders (who may never have seen a native dog) perpetuating an unnaturally exaggerated feature, such as back length".

Noting that the title of this article is " US Afghan Hound Breed Standard - study of working documents" readers might be inquisitive as to why I mention the UK breed standards so frequently, there are a number of reasons for this - Firstly, both the UK and US fancy were revising their standards in 1946, and actively cooperating. Draft standards were sent by each to the other inviting comment. The UK committee acknowledged that they had taken some information from the draft US standard and added it to the draft UK standard. The UK committee explained why they did not debarr "white" markings, whereas the US standard did etc. So it was a very healthy exchange between the two standard committees. It was probably most foruitious that both countries were simultaneously revising their standards because this afforded the opportunity for both to develop standards that were perhaps not too far apart. (we had the AHC/AHA type controversy back in the 1920's, the last thing we needed was for a UK/US controversy to erupt and divide the breed across continents).

Since the 1946 revisions the US standard has remained unchanged. The UK standard underwent some (largely cosmetic) changes in 1986 at the initiation of The Kennel Club. The KC had decided they needed to have a "standard format" (a template if you like) that all breeds standards fitted into. One can understand the KC's desire to have a common document format, however the KC also changed some wording in the Afghan hound standard, The offending revision related to " forelegs being straight with shoulder when viewed from the front". Bill Hall (Barbille Afghan hounds and breed correspondent for Our Dogs) mounted a vociforous campaign to have the proposed revision revoked. In November 1987 the KC wrote back to Bill Hall stating that the offending words "viewed from the front" will be removed on the next revision, and this correction has since been done.

Breed standards don't change very frequently for a good reason. The consensus view is that if you open the door for one change to a standard, you will open the "floodgates' for change and may lose information that some think should be preserved.. A counter argument to this concern is that if the breed standards are not periodically reviewed and amended, they may become "unrepresentative" of what the actual physical breed has evolved into. The counter to this concern is the usual accusation that people seek to change the standard to fit the breed, rather than the other way round.


It is not our intention to embark upon a point by point comparison of the standards and attempt an analysis and commenty. Rather, the objective is to document the history of the standards and the rationale behind the changes to the standard as explained in the archives of the standard writers and various related articles. If we can gain some "insight" as to "why" and 'how" standards were changed, then we will be able to more fully understand the standards in the first place?

4.1 US Standard, new standard or revised?

As I alluded to earlier, and by my including the old 1926 standard alongside the revised 1946 standard, it is pretty obvious that a new standard was needed, something more than just clarification or expansion. The old Sketchy 1926 standard was totally inadequate. This next point is not a big issue, but I think the statements by Mr Donald A Smith (AHCA President) on this topic are interesting... -

1961 - In his 1961 discussion with Conni Miller, Mr Smith stated the following - "In brief, then, changed circumstances plainly showed a need for an "expansion" or "clarification" of the standard - and this was precisely what was undertaken. It was never presented or intended as a "new' standard but simply a reworking to make the previous standard more understandable and useful to modern fanciers".

1973 0n the AHCA website under "History Of The AHCA" ( written by Mr Smith), and under the section entitled 'The Standard" we find the folllowing comment - "Although its authors and others were forever insistent that it was not a "new" standard but the old one ''expanded and clarified", it was really an entirely different document from the previous standard and from the various previous drafts. In most opinions, it was also a better standard, and after 25 years without revision or amendment, it continues to serve us today:.

I do not seek to criticize Mr Smith for his opinions on the matter. In fairness Mr Smith stated in 1961 to Conni Miller - "'Let me begin by disclaiming any status as one who had a hand in creating the present standard. My own active interest in the breed scarcely antedates 1947, My only authority on the entire subject is as one who did know many of those who did write the standard and as one who has been a student of the breed since that time and central to parent-club affairs over the past decade.

4,2 US Standard - Square Body Shape

Undeniably the Ghazni (Mary Amps) influence dominated the UK standards making process in 1927, and as explained above by Margaret Niblock. It seems to me that in 1946 the AHA committee endeavoured to be inclusive of both (Bell-Murray/Ghazni) types as illustrated by their removal of the following words which appeared under the "Gait' section in the 1927 standard - "The object of the dog is to hunt its quarry over very rough and mountainous ground in a country of crags and ravines. For this, a compact and well-coupled dog is necessary rather than a long loined racing dog whose first quality is speed".. The new 1946 UK standard replaced these words with the following text - "Smooth and springy (gait). Style of high order, Great speed, fleet footed, great turning power. The whole appearance of the dog should give the impression of strength and dignity combining speed and power". There is no reference to "compact" hound or "mountainous" ground which are adjectives more synonymous with Ghazni shape and proportions than Bell-Murray. The current UK standard allows for compact and more rangy hounds and trusts that breeders and judges will have a sense of overall balance and proportion rather than the standard being prescriptive.

Reminding our readers that the US was also revising its standard at the same time, and UK/US standard committees were exchanging progress reportrs/draft standards etc, its an interesting fact that the UK and US committees went in different directions when it came to the question of overall body shape. The UK 1946 standard states in the body section - "Back level, moderate length, well muscled, back falling slightly away to stern. Loin straight, broad and rather short. Hipbones rather prominent and wide apart.A fair spring of ribs and good depth of chest. By contrast the US 1946 committee in its description of body came up with this definition - "The height at the shoulder equals the distance from the chest to the buttocks", (IE a square proportioned hound).

In 1961 Conni Miller asked Donald A Smith (President of AHCA) - "Why" the AHCA came up with the aforementioned definition. Mr Smith's reply was as follows -

"This is a question that has several possible answers and opens many lines of discussion. I'll try to reply from two angles only. Intrinsically, this passage always seemed a neat (although perhaps not complete) answer to the paradoxes of a dog that is supposed to run faster, turn sharper and endure longer than any other. In simplest terms, it can be said that speed requires long legs, agility a short back, and endurance a long body. Which comes first in the Afghan hound? Well the answer balances out to the square proportions given in the standard. In a dog of these proportions, given the proper angulation, the legs can cover ground in great strides, the body can be large enough to provide lung and muscle power, and the back can still be moderately short. Historically, the passage may represent the settlement of a long controversy - a controversy in which partisanship was apt to be determined or influenced by the dogs one owned. Since the time the breed first became popular it has been possible to find considerable variation within it in body-leg proportioning. The background of this variation might be stated as follows: Both Zardin and the early Bell-Murray imports from Baluchistan were relatively long-bodied dogs. The original standard, apparently based on these specimens, said that the body "should be that of a hound and have ample length". The later Ghazni imports from the more mountainous part of Afghanistan, however, seem to have been generally shorter bodied and long legged. The history of the breed for the past 25 to 30 years has been a blending of the Bell-Murray, Ghazni and other imported strains. In such breeding, body proportions are one element that does not tend to trend in an even and intermediate way. At the time the standard was rewritten probably the longer-bodied dogs in particular were prevalent and successful in the show ring, abetted by their tendency to have a smoother slow gait and by the wording of the standard. They had their ardent partisans, too, but others foresaw that as legs kept getting shorter and coats longer the Afghan hound might resemble an overgrown Skye terrier. Even short of this extreme, the latter group felt that the long body was appropriate only to herd dogs and "flatland" hounds that the true mountain-terrain coursing hound should be high stationed and short coupled. Now it would not be entirely accurate to assume that prior to 1948 one continually heard arguments in just these terms. But there has been diversity in the breed in body proportions - and even into fairly recent times some have advocated dividing the breed into two varieties, the "desert type" and the "mountain type". There were also in the fancy two firm schools of thought - one emphasizing long bodies, the other long legs. The "square" proportion rule in the revised standard seems to have satisfied both camps. This may have been partly because it was a surprise move, a new thought. I rather suspect that at first sight it made each side feel vindicated, for it sounds like a relatively tall dog yet will be found to measure out to an Afghan hound that appears slightly longer in body than leg. But I feel that its ultimate success lies in the intrinsic logic of it as outlined above and because it creates a sensible goal in working toward a uniformly proportioned breed. The English standard would indicate that the British chose to duck this question in revising their standard. I cannot but feel the American handling of the situation was sounder and wiser". PHOTO Illustration AHCA standard

Further clues as to American thinking on this topic are perhaps to be found in the illustration at the top of this page, which is a scan taken from the front cover page of Mrs Sylvester Bussen Koch's illustrated standards document. Above we show the same image but smaller and with a "square" superimposed. This clearly shows a square shaped body, consistent with the evental wording in the revised standard. Interestingly in Mrs Sylvester Bussen Koch's proposed standard wording there is absolutely no mention of the hound being square and there is no mention of height at shoulder equaing distance from chest to buttocks etc. So Mrs Sylvester Bussen Koch didn't apparently lobby for a prescriptive square body shape, but, perhaps her illustration encouraged others to move in that direction?

4.3 US Standard Level vs Scissor Bite

Karin Armistead (previous AHCA Librarian) discussed some aspects of the standard with Donald Smith and documented this in the AHCA Newsletter in 1999. Here's the salient extract from her notes -

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 in1937, 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.

4.4 US Standard - white markings

In the 1961 discussions Conni Miller asked Donald Smith "Why - "White markings especially on the head, are undesirable"? Donald Smith responded -

Well in a few words, because they are. Seriously, I have covered this topic at some length in my June column in Pure Bred Dogs, written prior to receipt of your questionnaire. I know of no way to explain why such markings are undesirable except to ask you imagine, say, a black Afghan hound with long white stockings possibly ticked with blue, or a fawn with white patches running through its outer coat, or masked red with a white blaze from nose to topknot. These things can happen in Afghans. They were happening when the standard was clarified. They will happen again if, in breeding, we do not carry at least some prejudice against white markings. Genetically, such markings are progressive in nature and tend to take rather sudden and large cumulative jumps in extent

The net effect of extensive white markings is an off-type appearance in an Afghan hound. This is the fact: the logical explanation could be any of several after the fact. I would suggest that, for one thing, the Afghan coat and coat pattern is not calculated to enhance such markings, and vice versa. The particular emphasis on white markings about the head may have a two-fold cause. First, you usually get white markings on the head only in company with white markings elsewhere. Secondly, the noble expression and subtle lines of a good Afghan head are nullified by white markings just as surely as if daubed with streaks of white war paint.

The English view on this is mentioned in a letter dated August 23 1946 from Olive Couper (UK Afghan Hound Association) to Mrs Porter encloing a draft UK standard, and interestingly Mrs Couper comments - "many of the changes were compiled from the (trial standard) you sent to me". "The only thing we did not debar was white on the Afghan, because I do not think one can do this, for most of the brindles and black and tans have some white on them"

4.5 Trial Standard (Illustrated)

One of the interesting working documents considered by the AHCA was a" trial standard" (illustrated) provided by Mrs Sylvester Bussen Koch (Lazy T Afghan hounds). We havn't scanned all the illustrations (top of page shows one of the skecthes), they are largely what one would expect, drawing of a skeleton to show position of bones, angulation, sketches of teeth/bite, pads on feet, eye shape etc. similar to the sketches that exist in our breed books. Herebelow is the full text for that illustrated trial standard -

GENERAL APPERANCE: The Afghan hound should have the srtaight front, long arched neck and proudly carried head common to all gazehounds. At first glance his peculiar coat pattern, short, glistening hair on foreface, cheek and back (from withers to the end of tail) is most evident to the casual obserer. Other distinguishing features are the high, wide hips, the low set tail carried high and the low hock and patern joints. The appearance of the dog should suggest possibilities for flowing speed and a distinctly reserved eagerness for what is about to happen.

CHARACTERISTICS: calmness and aloofness should be apparent in this rugged individualist, the Afghan hound. Aloofness must not be confused with shyness and its particular partner fear biting both of which are highly objectionable

HEAD: GENERAL APPEARANCE; a head of medium length, balanced both in length and width to body proportions. Should be pleasing and appear neither attenuated nor blocky

NOSE; Should be black

MUZZLE; Should be clean, chiseled and not veiny. Both jaws should be powerful tools with the hinging quite a distance back from the flews. Flews , dry and tightly closed, no lippiness. Bite should be EFFICIENT. Either level or scissors. Overshot and undershot jaws should be penalized

CHISELING: Should be apparent under eye and in cheek. Fatty tissue anywhere on the Afghan hound's head is incorrect

EYE: The eyes should be dark, almond shaped and obliquely set. They should suggest the independent temperament and not the "may pal" attitude. The round, limpid, myopic eye is wrong on a gaze hound and especially so on an Afghan hound

EAR: The ears which are long and fringed should be set at the level of the corner of the eye. They should hang so close to the head as possble. The corect ear placement is dependent on a high occiuput.

NECK: The neck should be long, strong and gracefully arched. Short thick necks and long ewe necks are both incorrect. The neck merges into the backline without maked prominence of the withers.

SHOULDERS-UPPER ARM-FORELEGS: Anatomically these three must be considered as one. On a aog like the Afghan hound which travels at the suspended gallop the forequarters are of primary importance. Angulation in the shoulder is far more important than angulation of the stifle. The shoulder blade slopes back seen from profile. From front the shoulder blade slopes in to the wither which is NOT wide. The shoulder blade should be fastened securely to the thorax with firm ligamentst which will not allow it to be moved to any great extent manually. Pasterns are erect and the paws are strong, firm and well arched. The pads are thick and resilient and ALL should make firm cotact with the ground. Elbow points straight back, neither in nor out.

BRISKET: Deep but not lumbering. Certainly too much rib spring is incorrect.

TUCK: The suspended galloper has tuck. The Afghan hound should have it.

BACKLINE: STRAIGHT to hips, NOT swayed, roached, nor slack in loin. The loins when handled should be muscular and strong. To the hand they should give the impression of arching, but they should not rise above the backline.

TAIL: This should be set low and carried in a loop terminated curve not higher than the backbone.

STIFLE: Overangulated stifles and straight stifles are both incorrect and a dog with either fault cannot move in the correct manner. The over angulated dog appears to crouch at the trot. The one with straight stifles moves with a stilted, stiff gait that is foreign to the Afghan hound.

LOWER THIGH: The lower thigh is exceptionally long in the Afghan hound that has proper hock joint and stifle angulation.

HIND PAWS. These are firm, well arched and long. The hind toe pads on the Afghan hound assume a different pattern than those on other breeds

GAIT: The Afghan hound's trot should be a gait of powerful, alternating strides. The feet shoul track laterally. Pacing is incorrect. There should be nothing "mincing or prancing" about the Afghan hound's trot. It should be accomplished by strong strides each one like a stroke of a well oiled piston. "Cute" prancing causes the ringside to oh and ah, but it should make the exhibitor groan, especially on his own entry.

COAT: The coat should be profuse but conorming gracefully to the body linearments, not stand-off and powder puff like. There should be no noticeable undercoat as the propert coat is all about the same texture. The coat is found on top of skull, ears, forellegs, body and hind legs. The back, and top portion of the tail are smooth as is the muzzle and foreface.

BENT PASTERNS: The dog should not be "over" in the pastern joints. That is to say that the joint buckles and the foot is under the joint rather than in front of it

COLOR: Any color from cream to black should be acceptable. Grizzles and brindles are two color mixtures. White markings of any sort are not desirable

HEIGHT: Dogs 27-29 inches, Bitches 25-27 inches

SCALE OF POINTS: In as much as this dog is a hunting hound the scale of points should take the salient features of a dog for that purpose and rate them accordingly. I have subdivided as follows

Eye 5
Head shape 5
Jaws and teech 10

Rib spring 10
Pasterns 5
Hips 5

Shoulders 20
Pasterns 5
Paws (all) 5

Stifle 10
Low hocks and pasterns 10
Tail 5

4.6 US Standard Other

4.6.1 Change Of Personel Drafting The Standard

In a letter to the AHCA excecutive committee dated 7th September 1946, the chairperson of the Standards Committee Mrs Permelia Porter (Kingway Afghan hounds) wrote - "I have lived and breathed Standard for the past eight months and my hope for it is that it will be clear and explicit without being overdone, and that it will not mean any changes in the breed, but will show those who need it what to look for. I do not favor any departure from the English Standard in implication or practice. I am frank to say that I do not know what the next step should be, but whatever the Executive Committee decides should be done, I will do to the best of my ability. Or should the Committee decide that a new Chairman should take over, I will gladly relinquish the not too easy chair and wish the new ocupant the best of luck"..

As Karin Armistead tells us (4.3 above) ,"The controversy about the Standard had ripped the club apart, and Charlotte Coffey (Secretary AHCA) 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". In August 1947 the Executive Committee appointed Charles Wernsman (Arken) and Muriel Boger (Doreborn) to work out an acceptable draft as the target date of presentation of the revised standard to the membership and AKC of 1948 was fast approacfhing . We already know from reports such as Johannah Kench-Owen's (Kingway Afghan hounds) that extensive "negotiations and compromise" were neccessary in order to achieve a consensus. It seems that the AHCA eventually decided to throw the" fighting dogs" (Wernsman/;Boger) into the same ring and let them fight it out until they reconciled. This tactic worked. but credit is due also to Charlotte Coffey who had the job often of drawing up the words that the fighting dogs would both eventually sign up to.

4.6.2 Other Battles/Compromise

We have documented various other insider comments about negotiations and compromise that occured in the standard making process.

Steve Tillotson, March 2014

Related content
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?

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