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Anne Mathers. Metewand Afghan Hounds
Northern Ireland 1994
Page 1

The following article was originally published in the 1994 edition of "Think Afghan", the official magazine of the Afghan Hound Association and is the Copyright of the AHA. We are very grateful to the AHA for granting us permission to reproduce the article on these Internet pages.

I really set myself up for this one! Having said I would do an article for the first title given to me, I could hardly refuse when requested 'movement'. I decided however to modify this a little to the title above, so as not to have to cover walking and galloping as well I apologise for the lack of diagrams but my drawings are so atrocious, they would only confuse the issue.

I think there are four things a dog needs for good movement.

  1. Correct Construction
  2. Musculature
  3. Fitness
  4. Attitude of mind

I shall deal with the last first as this is the easiest to do........

I don't care how a dog goes at home (well I do) but it is how it goes in the Show Ring that matters as that is where it is assessed against its peers. It may be the fittest, best constructed hound in the world, but if it 'doesn't want to know' it all goes for nothing. A fit dog, however made, will tend to do better than one that isn't. Look at yourself. I would put money on it that you would be more tired and slower on a two mile walk after three weeks lying on a beach, than you would be doing the same walk after a fortnight of performing it every day. Regular exercise is the key to fitness. A fit Afghan should be able to outrun a dozen handlers in the ring. I think it is sad to see pop-eyed panting, frothing dogs after two circuits of the ring - it's probably the fastest they have gone all week. (Handlers are a different manner. I know, I qualify for the above remarks.) A lot is talked about road work and this has its place, but I think there is no substitute for free running. Our Affies are running dogs and should be able to fully extend themselves, twist and turn, slow down and accelerate as the notion takes them, for a good long time each day.

Dogs have the most amazing ability to get along regardless of make or disability. I have a three legged whippet who can and does occasionally go on two legs, and those two on the same side. Many of the quirks of movement observed are the dog's method of compensating for something not quite right in either conformation or fitness, or both. A whole subject in itself.

Be that as it may, what we should be aiming for as breeders, is perfection. To do that, we need to know what perfection is in both shape and function. Our Affies are the most beautiful dogs in the world, they should also be functional - to wit, have both 'speed and power (stamina) and though it doesn't say so in the standard, an amazing agility. You have only to watch Afghans playing freely. They can turn and stop on the proverbial sixpence where a greyhound or whippet will crash into the wall or have to think far further in advance of it's intentions. You don't very often see a fit Afghan desperately back peddling to save itself from a pile up. Now these three things, speed, power and agility are not mutually exclusive, but they do all have their special features which must be blended in, in any individual to produce a balanced whole .

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