Page 259 - ShowSight, March 2020
P. 259

                My ultimate goal for the breed? The goal is to create exceptional dogs. And, eliminate mediocrity from the breed.
My favorite dog show memory? Winning Best of Breed at Westminster and a month later Best of Breed at CRUFTS with the same bitch, MBIS MRBIS MSBIS GCHS Finnish Champion Criston Enchanted.
Bob and Helen have had Afghan Hounds since 1955 and 1974, respectively. We have been privileged to have seen many of the “greats” in the breed and are proud to be involved with the King of Dogs. We love the independence, beauty and humor of this breed and are grateful to have discovered the Afghan Hound.
We are retired and live in Venice, Florida. We stay busy with our dogs, with Parent club activities and with judging, and find many other things to keep us occupied (though they’re mostly dog-related in one way or another).
Do we hope the breed’s popularity will change or are we com- fortable with the placement? We’re happy with that ranking. We don’t want to be considered one of the Low Entry breeds, but would truly hate to see our breed become hugely popular and attract com- mercial breeders who will sell any dog to any home.
At the height of its popularity, Afghan Hound puppies were much in demand. Sadly, many were also returned to breeders or to rescue groups before age two. In his youth, the Afghan Hound is often very high-maintenance—the transition from puppy coat to beautiful, silky adult coat can take many months and this can involve serious matting if the coat isn’t worked with on a daily basis. Sometimes inexperienced owners just give up and return a dog or surrender it to rescue. Also, Afghans can be very wild (and destruc- tive) as puppies and young adults. Our responsible breeders are careful to educate potential newcomers to the challenges that may lie ahead and to match the right dog with the right home. It is SO worth the wait! This is a wonderful breed to live with if you like an independent free-thinker!
Our thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? We love the look of a beautifully patterned Afghan Hound! It’s reminiscent of so many dogs in the early history of our breed. A patterned coat enhances the details of the lean, muscular body with its beautiful angles, big feet, long low-set tail, prominent hipbones—it’s a beau- tiful look that adds to the exotic Eastern appearance of this swift coursing Hound.
Judges, please remember that both are correct. Regardless of coat pattern, the dog should have a distinct saddle—hair that is not trimmed, but that is naturally “short and close, forming a smooth back in mature dogs” as described in the breed standard.
And in either case, the outstanding characteristics are the thick silky coat very fine in texture, long silky topknot, and “impression of a somewhat exaggerated bend in stifle due to profuse trouser- ings”; the amount of coat is not of importance.
Our thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? This is a square breed that should move with good reach and drive, but without exaggeration. He should be balanced front and rear, and should move effortlessly. You will often see dogs that are too straight in shoulder, and with a short upper arm, and/or dogs that are too exaggerated in rear angu- lation. These dogs will have too much “kick” in rear, too much “lift” in front (please note that “lift” implies wasted motion for a dog that is bred to cover ground swiftly and efficiently).
Quite often there is misuse of the word “spring” when speaking of an Afghan Hound in the show ring. He should be light on his feet
and balanced in movement, but he is not “springy” or “bouncy”. This is clearly described in the standard:
At a gallop: “Gait—When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in his smooth, powerful stride.” A student of the breed can see many examples of this on YouTube videos.
At a trot: “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.”
Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dis- pel? The obvious one: They are not stupid! Afghan Hounds learn very quickly and they get bored very quickly. They are independent and don’t always want your advice on what they should be doing. They are very loyal to and devoted to their people.
At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Depends on the particular line; some show extreme worthiness at a very young age while others take many months.
What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Breed Type is of utmost importance!
From Bob’s critique written after judging the National Specialty in 2019: “What I look for in our breed: Balance with good length of leg. I want them to be light on their feet, not overdriving from the rear. I am looking for correct heads, good shoulders, good slope of croup and a tail of good length, carried up, but of course not over the back. I want tails not overly-curled and with a ring or curve. And the head must clearly be that of an Afghan Hound, not exag- gerated in any way.”
What’s the best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? Talk to them! Sometimes as exhibitors, we Afghan people are wrapped up in grooming and preparing to go in the ring, and tend to ignore the spectators who are enthralled with these beauti- ful, exotic creatures. Breeders, exhibitors—please take the time to say a kind word, and be willing to talk to newcomers after you’ve finished showing.
Our ultimate goal for the breed? We hope for breeders to pre- serve the qualities described in the breed standard, and not to accept changes that lead to a loss of breed type. This is a hunting Hound who must have power and endurance and yet be elegant and graceful. He must have a strong underjaw, have a keen eye correctly placed, the ability and agility to navigate turns on desert sands or mountain ledges, and the correct coat. Our breed standard was written in 1948 and serves the breed well to this day.
Our favorite dog show memory? We’ve had great memories over the years that it’s hard to single out a certain one, but there have been many great times showing and judging in the U.S.A. as well as around the world. It’s very hard to pick a favorite.
We’d also like to share that most Afghan Hounds love to be entertained, so they are fun to work with in Lure Coursing, Agility and Obedience.
I got my first Afghan Hound in the early 1950s, a daughter of Ch. Taejon of Crown Crest. Others soon followed, and we progressed to the show ring, always handling our own dogs. We were founding members of the North- ern California Afghan Hound Club and eventually members of several others, including Dallas and Southern California, and all-breed clubs, includ- ing Santa Clara, Santa Ana, Ft. Worth

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