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Will Hally
UK breed columnist, comments on the breed 1941

It was the happiest of Christmas cheer which Mr. Charles Hopton gave us last week in the great news that the British bred Afghan; American Ch Rana Of Chaman was best exhibit, all breeds, at the big Washington show. As his famous affix implies, Rana was bred by Mrs. Molly Sharpe - in March 1938 from Ch Westmill Bayezia Ansari and Safiya. After being best dog puppy on his debut at the kennel Club show in December of the same year (his litter sister, Rana was sold to Mr. R A Floyd, for whom he did a lot of winning, especially in varieties, before taking the Afghan dog certificate at Harrogate under the late Mr. Chris Hulker, on September 2, 1939 the day before Britain declared war on Germany. It was just after Harrogate show that Rana was exported to the States

I am very glad that Mr. Holton mentioned Miss Jean Manson in his same contribution, and the sensation which her Sahib created when she took him across to the Westminster show in New York in 1927. Somehow or other, Miss Manson has never got the credit she deserved for her brilliant pioneering of the breed in this country, at first in the face of a good deal of apathy - the dog fancy looked on the Afghans then as just another breed which would pass out, as this one had previously done after Zardin's day. At first of course Miss Manson was working with Major Bell-,Murray's hounds - he was her brother-in-law which she had brought from Afghanistan just after the last war" she brought the whole lot home in a tramp steamer which took over six months to do the voyage from port to port. Later, she took over the entire kennel as her own property, and it was mainly due to her indefatigable efforts that the British fancy of the breed was founded. It was she who put through most of the 21 registrations in 1924 and of the 65 in 1925, which enabled the breed to win its first challenge certificates in 1926

In his references to trimming and action, Mr. Hopton raises two very important points. It is not always fair to take one's impressions from photographs, but from the many I have seen of American exhibits of this breed, it seems to me that our friends in the States are "grooming" their Afghans into what are perilously near being caricatures of their race. Indeed the photographed Afghans look as as artificial as cinema stars on the screen, or, alternatively, they give the impression of being destined for a box at the opera on a gala night, only requiring a necklace, and perhaps a tiara to complete the picture. The Afghan is a rough, tough dog, and it was never meant to be what those American photographs depict it as being. Admittedly, those Afghans look lovely, but they are smoothed-out and titivated to an extreme that is totally contrary to the true ideal.

That phrase "with a graceful outline" which Mr. Hopton quotes from the American standard, was in the standard of our pioneer organization, the now defunct Afghan Hound Club, but although it was never misinterpreted here, it does look as if it were being so in the States. The Afghan has a "graceful outline" but, all the same, "graceful" is not the most appropriate word to apply to a rugged breed such as this. Anyway, I prefer the wording of our present organization's (the Afghan Hound Association) standard in this respect: "The whole appearance of the dog should give the impression of strength and activity, combining speed with power. The object of the dog is to hunt its quarry over very rough and mountainous ground, a country of crags and ravines". Mr. Hopton is strongly against the over-trimming of Afghans, but he suggest "the removal of whiskers or smellers and ragged feathering on feet". But why remove what is absolutely essential to the dog as a coursing hound in its native land? The "ragged" feathering on feet" is very necessary to protect the feet in the hard going of Afghanistan, and the Afghan's feet are a very important part of it. And once we start snipping bits off here and other bits of there, where is the trimming to end?

As for action, the quotation I have just given from our Association's standard is itself a clue to that. The orthodox hound action would not take the Afghan very far "over very rough and mountainous ground, a country of crags and ravines"; it therefore has an action which is unique and possessed by no other canine breed. The standard description is "springy gait," and that is a high-stepping action - not the extreme of the hackney, but sufficient to carry the dog over very rough, rock-strewn ground, where the going is uneven at every step. The Afghan is not a short-stepper by any means, but, in comparison with other hounds and other working breeds, it is very decidedly a high-stepper.

For the January-to-October ten months of this year (1941), Afghan registrations totaled 19 as against 43 in the similar period last year, and 94 in the corresponding ten months of 1939. To the end of October, ten Afghans had been officially transferred this year - 25 in the same period in 1940. In July, Tazana of Chaman was exported to America, and that is all this year so far. In the same ten months of 1940, two Afghans were exported to the States and one to Canada. But do not be depressed by these decreased totals - they are, unfortunately the rule in most breeds just now, and the Afghan has no cause for greater complaint than have the others

See also
Will Hally comments on the breed 1921

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