Afghan Hound Times
(Afghan Hound Database and Breed Information Exchange)

BY THE KENNEL CLUB - 1925/1926

(Steve Tillotson, February 2011)

Since embarking on this "Early" Afghan Hound section, and in reviewing the early photographs and early writings on the breed, I have become increasingly intrigued about several aspects of this early breed development. Let's discuss one of these intriguing and most important aspects Separate Breed Classification Granted in 1926 -

In 1926 The Kennel Club stated - "Sufficient Afghan Hounds had been registered at the Kennel Club to warrant separate classification and the granting of challenge certificates"

Registration numbers around this period are shown in the table below:

Table 1.
# Registrations
9 Bell Murray Afghan Hounds
arrived in 1921
10 Ghazni Afghan Hounds
arrived in 1925

(Factors Impacting Recognition By The Kennel Club)

This includes Quarantine, date Of Arrival of Bell-Murray and Ghazni in the UK, and the timing of their Breeding/Exhibiting activities. The British Paliament enacted in 1901 the "Importation Of Dogs Act" which required that a dog imported from overseas had to go into solitary confinement (quarantine) for a period of 6 months. Interestingly, Mary Amps (Ghazni) in a letter dated September 17th 1926 stated that her hounds "spent 12 months in quarantine unfortunately". The reference to 12 months must either be mis-reported by the writer, or mis-remembered by Mrs Amps? The 1901 act remained unchanged until the 1990's when a new scheme, bypassing the 6 months quarantine was implemented. The reason I have raised the issue of quarantine is because I am interested to find out what the "interval" was from the time the Ghazni (and Bell Murray) imports arrived in the UK and their first registrations and show activities. Noting of course that I do not have a precise date on which Major and Mrs Amps and Major Bell-Murray "arrived" back in the UK with their hounds. I simply have a year - 1925 for the Amps, 1921 for the Bell-Murrays. However, with a little detecitve work the date of arrival can be narrowed down. We should also note that there was invaribly a delay or lag between date of birth of a litter and the actual registration. For example, some of the Bell Murray litters were registered within 4 months of their birth, whereas other litters were not registered until maybe 12 months later. The earliest registration for a Bell Murray was October 1921 for a litter born in Afghanistan in 1919, several of which were entered "Not For Competition" in the foreign dogs class at Crufts in 1922 (Crufts is usually around February each year). Were they entered "Not For Competition" because they would still have been subject to quarantine restrictions?, or perhaps, were the Bell Murrays's too busy upon arriving back in the UK in 1921, sorting out their affairs and arranging accomodation etc to actually start exhibiting their hounds at that time?

(First Bell Murray/Ghazni Registrations)

The earliest UK bred Bell-Murray litter would appear to have occured in June 1921, and registered in October 1921. This implies that the Bell-Murrays arrived sometime before June 1921. In fact I have in my possession a letter dated 5th July 1921 between a property owner in Scotland and her relative in which the writer discusses renting her house to Major Bell Murray. So the Bell Murrays appear to be back in the UK sometime prior to the middle of 1921?

Now what about the Amps, and the interval between their arrival date and the commencement of their UK breeding/showing activities? We find early registrations for the Ghazni's dated July 1926 for a litter born overseas in June 1923. Registrations in October 1926 for a litter born in August 1925. Registrations in July 1927 for a litter born in the UK in March 1927. So, unless the August 1925 litter was conceived overseas and the bitch imported whilst in whelp, the above suggests that the Amps were back in the UK by the first quarter of 1925?

(First Bell Murray/Ghazni Show Entries)

Bell-Murray again entered several hounds "Not For Competition" in Crufts, February 1923. No Bell-Murray entries at Crufts 1924. Finally in 1925 we have Bell Murray Afghan Hounds entered at Crufts (owners exhibiting BM stock included Jean Manson, Clara Bowring, Evelyn Denyer and Olga Arletti with "Moti", who won Best Hound on the day). So 1925 looks to to be the year of commencement of Bell-Murray show activities?

The first Ghazni Afghan Hounds entered at Crufts appeared in February 1927, so that would appear to be the commencement of Ghazni show activities

(Summary Of The Above)

Table 2.
Arrival Back In The UK
First UK born/reg'd Afghan
First UK Show Entry
BM - Q1, 1921
Q2, 1921
Q1, 1922
Ghazni - Q1, 1925
Q3, 1925
Q1, 1927

***Note re the above. I'm giving the BM a show start date of Q1 1922 but we should remember this show entry was "Not For Competition". The first date I have uncovered where actual BM hounds were exhibited is in fact Q1 1925

Just to remind us all where we started this discussion, In 1926 The Kennel Club stated -

"Sufficient Afghan Hounds had been registered at the Kennel Club to warrant
separate classification and the granting of challenge certificates"

We have now established that the Bell-Murrays contributed to this record of "sufficient" registrations from as early as 1921 and the Ghazni's contributed from around late 1926, after the breed gained separate classification and challenge certificates.

Let us remind ourselves about some of the early Afghan Hounds that pre-date the Bell-Murray and Ghazni hounds. Below is a gallery of some these early hounds that we discuss elsewhere in the early afghan hounds section.

Early Afghan Hound Gallery of photographs 1880's - 1910

What would it take in 1926 to convince The Kennel Club that The Afghan Hound was deserving of a seperate classification and awarding them CC's?

1. Sufficient registrations
2. Sufficient interest in a new breed as evidenced by people exhibiting the breed at dog shows
3. Support by Influential people in the KC, by Influential writers/judges such as Will Hally, Robert Leighton
4. An agreed description (Breed Standard) for the new breed
5. A consistency of the exhibits/specimens to assure the KC that the breed is consistent and a stable type
6. Other

By 1926 it would appear that items 1-4 all existed, however there has to be a question about item 5? It is plainly obvious from the photo gallery above, that pre Bell-Murray/Ghazni that there was simply no constency in what an Afghan Hound looked like, or what he was even named (Persian Greyhound? Afghan Greyhound? Barukhzy Hound? etc). The only exception, of course, was Zardin. Whilst Zardin caused a sensation in his early days, his popularity, and that of the breed eventuallly diminished. Further, I don't think anyone would endorse a new breed based on just ONE acceptable or typical specimen? The rest of the Afghan Hounds of this era were so variable, (and some even questionable as being Afghan Hounds, see photo gallery above) that prior to the 1920's Zardin was virtually the only worthwhile representative of the breed known to the fancy. Zardin is reputed to have sired litters in the UK but none of his offspring are recorded at any dog shows and he and any offspring do not appear in the pedigree bloodlines. So, apart from the short-term public interest factor in Zardin, the fact that the breed has no Zardin legacy to maintain this interest, consistency of exhibits, prior to the 1926 Kennel Club decision, seem notable by their absence, and hence the decision to reognize the breed at that early stage (1926) may surprise some. (also see later notes on this page about The KC classification/de-clasificaiton of other breeds for some context to the above)

Ah Ah! I hear you say - but didn't the Bell-Murrays and the Ghazni's arrive around this time with their more consistent (but still inconsistent) types? And wouldn't their greater numbers and breeding/showing activities have encourraged The Kennel Clubt to accept the new breed?. Yes and No may be the likely answer to that very good point. As discussed above, and as summarized in Table 2, the Bell Murray's didn't start their serious show activities until 1925, and the Ghazni's a little later in 1927. The Ghazni's didn't exist in the UK in time to influence the acceptance that occured in 1926. The Bell-Murrays did exist in the UK since 1921, and their group of breeder/exhibitors were very active in breeding, registering and showing Afghan Hounds. So yes to Bell Muray, no to Ghazni. The above should not be taken as a pro Bell Murray, or anti Ghazni comment, it's just a fact of how the timings worked out.

Both Bell Murray and Ghazni took "Zardin" as their "Model", or breed standard if you like. Most observers and canine writers (such as Robert Leighton, Will Hally etc) praised the Ghazni type when it eventually arrived and likened it to Zardin. So you could perhaps take the view that the Bell-Murrays did contribute to the process of achieving KC resognition, and the Ghazni's, by virtue of their type retrospectively validated the KC's decision.

I still feel however that The Kennel Club's decision in 1926 was either an act of brilliant inspiration and foresight, or, other influences at work prevailed upon them to recognize the breed. By way of a "modern" contrast to the 1926 decision to recognize the Afghan Hound, think about two other breeds - The Parson Jack Russel (PJR) Terrier and the Belgian Sheep Dog (BSD) For many many years The Kennel Club was disinclined to accept the PJR as a pedigree dog, allthough it's history traces back a century to the 1880's. Eventually, (back in the 1980's I believe) the KC finally accepted the PJR as a pedigree dog and added it to their register. As regards the BSD the Kennel Club went in the other direction - declassifying the four varieties that had previously been separately classified and separately registered, into ONE breed, renamed The Belgian Shepherd Dog. We should remember of course that The Kennel Club back in the 1920's was itself a young and growing organization and did not have the resources, systems and procedures in place such as it does today. For example (if I recall correctly, but I will re-check the next factoid), in the 1920's The Kennel Club was not responsible for Breed Standards. These were the domain of individuals, or the embryonic Breed Clubs. It wasn't until as late as 1948 that The KC took control over the structure, content, maintenance and management of all the Breed Standards. So, maybe on hindsight, the Afghan Hound (compared to the modern situation - PJR/BSD mentioned above) was fortunate to achieve such early recognition.

Whist it is totally reasonable to give credit to those pioneer importers/breeders/exhibitors (Bell-Murray, Larkbeare etc) whose dedication and energy resulted in the breed gaining acceptance, I would like to add a tail-piece about that group of "Early Afghan Hounds" as depicted in the photo gallery above. Whilst none of them contribute to the pedigree bloodlines, they and the activities of their owners should also receive credit for their contribution. Those "Curiosities" (as someone once referred them to me as), were in fact the "first" Afghan Hounds brought to the attention of the public as well as to the world of dogs, and as such, these Curiosities sowed the seeds of interest in the breed. These seeds were cultivated and the early growth of interest was built upon by the next generation of Afghan Hound fanciers, and thus enabled the breed to achieve its early recognition.

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