Dogs with Cat-Like Personalities

 

We asked the following questions to various experts involved with the breeding & showing of Afghan Hound. Below are their responses, which are taken from the latest issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe.

 

  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. In popularity, the Afghan Hound is currently ranked #113 out of 192 AKC-recognized breeds. Do you hope this will change or are you comfortable with his placement? Do these numbers help or hurt the breed?
  3. Your thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats?
  4. Your thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring?
  5. Are there any misconceptions about the breed you’d like
    to dispel?
  6. What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate?
  7. At what age do you start to see definite signs of show-worthiness (or lack thereof)?
  8. What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind?
  9. What’s the best way to attract newcomers to your breed and to the sport?
  10. What is your ultimate goal for the breed?
  11. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  12. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

Harry Bennett

Harry is a past President of the Afghan Hound Club of America, Inc. He has served on the AHCA Board of Directors, has chaired the National Specialty (2000), and chairs the Judges Education Committee. In 2013, the American Kennel Club’s Outstanding Sportsmanship Award was bestowed on him on behalf of the Afghan Hound Club of America.

My first Afghan Hound came in 1970. At that time, “Kemet” was not considered show quality, but I learned so much with him and I was encouraged every step of the way by everyone around me. People asked me to show their dogs very soon after so, I think I had a special knack. I used the prefix “Wanderin’” for my own.

I traveled around the country to visit different breeders and kennels. I got to see and have my hands on some of the greatest Afghan Hounds. These dogs were young, old, at home, or in the ring. I loved handling and if statistics were tabulated for the category, I would be among the top five individuals for having handled the largest number of (excellent) Afghan Hounds to their championships. I campaigned several Afghan Hounds to notable ranking and high awards. If these dogs weren’t number one, they were certainly phenomenons in their day.

I have been honored to judge the AHCA Breeders’ Cup Futurity twice and AHCA Sweepstakes twice, as well as innumerable Sweepstakes at Regional Specialties through the years. This has given me the opportunity to intimately see the Afghan Hound nationally as it moves through this span of time. I have also judged Sweepstakes, Futurities, and Top Twenty competitions at many other breed national events. I love to judge, but I am not through showing dogs. I have shown many breeds in many Groups, but try to keep my focus among the Sight Hounds and Toy breeds. I have been reputed with special and personal accomplishments in Borzoi, Ibizan Hounds, Salukis, Chinese Cresteds, Toy Manchester Terriers, Italian Greyhounds, and Havanese, and recently Cotons de Tulear and Biewer Terriers.

Activity in the Parent Club has always been important to me. I’ve always believed that if one can make a difference, then make a difference. In the Afghan Hound Club of America I have served in one respect or another over decades. It seems that I have found my niche in Judges Education.

I live with my partner Chip Rowan in Jacksonville, Florida. We raised exotic finches for many years. We also collect antique and vintage Steiff Teddy Bears and Animals, and have been involved with a few other areas of antiques for many years.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I hope that this will change; I would like to see a resurgence of interest in the Afghan Hound. I am hopeful and excited to see Afghan Hounds showing up on television commercials and in advertisements again.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? The “peculiar coat patterning” is a distinguishing characteristic of the breed. It is unusual, but it is not a mystery. In simple terms, the Afghan Hound is a double-coated breed. What is a unique feature in this breed is that the surface area of the dog is dominated by its undercoat or secondary coat; a soft silky hair. The primary coat is a short, hard hair. It would be highly unlikely to see an Afghan Hound that is covered only in soft, silky hair. As well, it would be very unusual to find an Afghan Hound that had only its primary coat, hence being a “smooth” Afghan Hound.

The adult Afghan Hound has a close, hard coat on its head. This may sometimes be accented by the growth of long hair off the chin which we like to describe as a “mandarin beard”. Both dogs and bitches may grow a beard. It only enhances an “exotic expression”, it does not detract from gender nor does its absence have bearing on proper expression created by the components of the head.

The awareness of coat patterning on the Afghan Hound is up to the judge, not the dog. Simply, where there is exposed short hair, it should be of a hard texture, not soft, as the long, silky rest of
the coat. Even on a heavier-coated dog, it is not unusual to find short, hard hair hidden underneath the long, silky hair. Both coats are not necessarily in the same place on any given dog, nor is it necessarily the same on any two dogs. Most important is that it is understood that in adult dogs, the short, hard hair is exposed along the back. This generally continues along the tail defining a tail that is “never bushy”.

The area amount of exposed short hard hair varies; from minimally being a “saddle” across the dog’s back, to exposed areas on the sides and back of the neck, down the sides of the body including the shoulders, down the flanks, and especially the front and sometimes back pasterns. An Afghan Hound deemed “out of coat” should not be misinterpreted to be “out of condition” for that reason. It is important to know that for whatever amount of coat the Afghan Hound has, the leg bones are straight and the feet face forward, and the dog moves soundly. There are many distractions of hair throughout the range of coat patterning and that is conquered only with time and study.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? The Standard clearly describes the build of the Afghan Hound. The Standard describes a balanced trot with high head and tail carriage, all that is expected of “The King Of Dogs”. A warrior, an athlete; strong with no effort.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Absolutely! Although the Afghan Hound is not so willing to please, it learns very quickly and cooperates as it feels suited. In all fairness to these dogs, they had more important things on their minds for 4,000 years, like self preservation. Having said this, and after a seemingly relentless puppyhood, the adult Afghan Hound makes an awesome pet. In the end, the Afghan Hound really is a domesticated animal.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Although I think we all face the same challenges, the challenge that affects a breed like the Afghan Hound moreso is that diligence has been replaced by laziness, lack of imagination, oh yeah, only one free hand.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I personally am confident making a decision at 10 to 12 weeks. I daresay I’ve not been wrong yet.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? The Afghan Hound is complicated, so much can be right, and so much can go wrong.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Oh My G-d, if the dogs can’t do it, what can we do? I expect the same things that attracted me to the Afghan Hound 50 years ago; Piercing (black almond-shaped eyed) expression, the demeanor of Zeus, and heart-stopping Afghan Hound movement.

 

Pamela Bruce

Pamela is a fourth generation ‘dog person’. She finished her first champion Maltese at age four alongside her parents who bred Maltese and Lhasa Apsos. Pam has handled and appreciates all breeds. Her expertise: coated breeds, conditioning and presenting numerous Top Hounds, Terriers, Toys. all varieties of Poodles, Giant Schnauzers, and Bearded Collies. She has also bred and exhibited top winning Weimaraners. For over 40 years, Pam specialized in the breed she is best known for co-piloting numerous record breaking hounds under the Afghans of ‘Grandeur’ prefix with her mentor, Michael Canalizo. Pam has bred top winning Airedale Terriers under the ‘Accolade’ prefix for the past 20+ years. She is a retired investigator with the Toronto Police Service – an expert, specializing in DNA “cold cases”, Dangerous Offenders, Sexual Assault /Child Abuse investigations. Pam is an all-breed judge, and has traveled the world.

I live in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. Outside of dogs, I like traveling, horses, sports and wine.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I think the Afghan Hound is not for every person and their upkeep in more than an average breed, if being shown. I am not sure the ranking would affect the breed as dedicated breeders are the caregivers to this hound.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? I can appreciate both coat types, but wish more all-rounders would understand and appreciate that more is not necessarily more.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? It is no secret my opinion on this subject. I have judged this breed all over the world. The breed standard has not changed since the approval September 14, 1948. This breed is to be a moderate athlete in a silk suit.

Stick straight fronts, sloping toplines, over-angulated rears, Borzoi headed specimens are not an Afghan Hound—they are caricatures—that should never be rewarded let alone bred to and from!

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? That they are not an intelligent breed and that all are spooky.
They can be aloof, but they are intelligent, albeit they can be catlike and work on their own terms.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? I think every purebred dog breed faces the same predicament—we need proper exposure and the breeders and caretakers of this breed need to educate the public of their value as companions. As far as showing, there are too many dog shows and they are costly, so many have to pick and choose which to attend.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Watching attitude develop at about six weeks of age. A good dog becomes a great one if it believes in itself! I feel you can recognize that “IT” factor early on. We have had dogs with amazing structure that decide the shows bore them—so they were not campaigned, but finished and placed as companions.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? They are a moderate, aloof athlete in a silk suit. Approach them from the front and to the side. Examine them quietly and efficiently—never stare them down nor manhandle them.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Exposure and education—Meet the Breeds in NYC and Orlando provide phenomenal public education and exposure!

My ultimate goal for the breed? For the breed to look like the breed and to not become caricatures and that the true caretakers of the breed stay the course.

My favorite dog show memory? Watching my big brother, Michael Canalizo, and our Ch. Tryst of Grandeur at the Garden from the floor of MSG—teamwork and poetry in motion! They inspired so many with their passion and dedication.

There are still great examples of the breed to be found and rewarded from longtime dedicated preservation breeders.

 

Connie & Duane Butherus

Connie and Duane have been involved with Afghan Hounds since the late 1960s. Their limited breeding program has produced over 45 AKC title holders, multiple Group and Specialty Show winners and International Champions. Several of their dogs have been incorporated into other successful breeding programs. In addition to being heavily involved in several local breed, Group and all-breed clubs, both Connie and Duane have been on the Afghan Hound Club of America Board of Directors and both have served as President. Currently Connie is the Club’s Delegate to the AKC. Duane holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry and teaches at New Jersey Institute of Technology. He is a past Chairman of the Board of the AKC Canine Health Foundation. He is an AKC approved judge of the breed and has judged the AHCA National Specialty, the Canadian National Specialty, in Australia, New Zealand, England and Belgium. He is also a Delegate for an All-Breed Club. Connie is a retired Heathcare Administrator for the State of New Jersey. She holds the title of Certified Public Manager in addition to academic degrees and professional licensure.

The Butherus household is shared with several Afghan Hounds, a Whippet and one very independent cat.

We live in Central New Jersey, in a community saturated with dog breeders and exhibitors. Duane is a researcher retired from Bell Laboratories and is currently teaching Chemistry and Statistics at New Jersey Institute of Technology. Connie is a retired
healthcare administrator.

Do we hope the breed’s popularity will change or are we comfortable with the placement? We have seen a quantum change in the popularity of the breed from the high watermark in the seventies. It is now laughingly referred to as the breed of the aging flower child.

This is a breed that requires regular grooming, exercise and socialization. A fenced yard is also needed. Not everyone is willing or able to make the commitment to ensure these. There are presently probably enough Afghan Hounds of varied backgrounds and pedigrees to maintain breed health and genetic variability. The numbers of Afghan Hounds requiring rescue seem to be lower than 30+ years ago, so maybe our present numbers are about right.

Our thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? We have no preference. The patterned coat is a breed characteristic and quite beguiling. In contrast, too much coat can distort the desired outline and tends to hide the inherent “houndiness” of the breed.

Our thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Form and function must be in balance. The breed standard is quite clear as to the correct structure. Specific aspects of the structure are stipulated such as shoulders, top line, bend of stifle, hocks, brisket, angulation as well as the unique breed characteristics such as hip bones, topknot, carriage. The structure dictates correct movement. Three aspects must be balanced in assessing a dog in the ring: the appearance, the movement and the structure.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed we’d like to dispel? The Afghan Hound is very intelligent! The misconception regarding their intelligence may be due to their independent nature. The Afghan Hound’s primary drive is survival, not pleasing you. It is interesting that other than line cuts, Afghans probably have the fewest injuries of any breed in coursing trials. Afghans are more interested in surviving than in catching the bunny! The breed is also a functional hound and not merely a foo foo show dog.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? The current climate regarding the assumed virtues of “rescue” as opposed to that of purpose breed dogs is a challenge for all preservation breeders. In addition, the impact of designer dogs has had a negative impact. Thankfully there has not been a strong commercial impulse to cross-breed Afghan Hounds with other breeds to create a new and attractive “designer dog”. Poodles, unfortunately for them, seem to be the breed of choice for a heavily-coated breed in such designer dog breedings.

At what age do we start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? In our line we have found that three months of age is most often the optimum time to assess their virtues or limitations. The pups will often go through subsequent odd growth spurts, but at maturity they most frequently return to the dog we see at three months.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judges should not be deceived by the coat. A fully coated dog could be concealing a less than desirable structure which would be more obvious in a highly patterned dog. Coat color patterns can also be deceiving. For example, a dog with a black and tan pattern with a diagonal color division on the hocks can erroneously look to have defective hocks. With a heavily coated breed like Afghan Hounds the judge needs to watch the motion of the feet to determine the movement soundness, not the legs, whose movement pattern is often covered by the profuse coat.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to our breed and to the sport? Possibly more than in the past, owners want to have fun with their dogs, so seeing Afghan Hounds and their owners
enjoying performance events such as agility and coursing would probably attract good, responsible owners into the breed.

Our ultimate goal for the breed? Ours is a breed of preservation and not innovation. The original British standard, which is the foundation of breed standards around the world, was written to describe the dog as it was found in Afghanistan, rather than describing an ideal that we should develop. The maintenance of the breed standard in breeding programs must be the goal. We have over the years seen trends we consider detrimental to the breed reversed by the conscientious efforts of core Afghan Hound breeders. Trends toward too much or too little bone/substance, too much or insufficient size, distortions of the outline, etc. have been reversed over time toward a more proper norm. With the application of cream rinse and a blow dryer, many of the early dogs would not look out of place in today’s show ring! We hope this self-correcting tendency will remain with breeders, and that their breeding objectives remain fixed on the standard as it is. It has served us well. We hope that the breed will be preserved pretty much as it is for at least the next century and beyond.

Our favorite dog show memory? We have many great memories. It is easy to recall the wins and forget the losses. The friends made in the sport are very special and enhance the experience. Early in our showing career, we had a bad weekend, and at the conclusion of the weekend, we had a lovely dinner Sunday evening with friends. We commented on the drive home that if our happiness depended on winning, we were going to be very unhappy showing dogs as a hobby, but if we developed friendships with folks we met at the shows, we could have an enjoyable time even if we didn’t win. This approach to the hobby of showing dogs has provided us with a very rewarding part of our lives, and we treasure the friends we have made over the years.

We’d also like to share about the breed that we have a book of Afghan Hound cartoons displaying all the mischief they can get into. The last cartoon showed the owner frazzled, sprawled on a thoroughly chewed-up couch asking, “Why do I put up with this?”, then answering her question in bold type: “Because I live with beauty!” In our opinions, there is no better explanation.

 

Michael Canalizo

My primary residence is on Long Island, New York where I grew up and I have a secondary residence in Florida where the bulk of my immediate
family reside.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? The breed has never been ranked very high in popularity, I assume due to the commitment to grooming required and because of their innate independence which includes their love of freedom to run. But—those who know of their “cat-like” personality find them an amazing companion and most Afghan Hound owners are “repeat offenders” for life. I understand their current position and it actually isn’t a major concern to me.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? There is no thought to me on this. Patterning is such an important detail of the Standard which secures the traditional “saddle” to remain an “outstanding characteristic” of the breed. Those who don’t understand this are not fully knowledgeable of the Standard, and might just be those who have allowed excessive trimming to permeate the breed. Don’t ask that question to any longtime breeders unless you’re prepared for a sharp retort!

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? The breed has survived many “fads” over the years. In the 70s and 80s when it took 93 bitches for a 5-point major (it now takes about 12), coats and speed were king of the ring. I think those extremes have calmed down at the moment. The beauty of the breed will always force a second look in the Groups where they do impress with their strong, yet graceful action. The better judges will reward the right combination of correctness in conformation adorned by a coat of proper texture coupled with the requisite muscle-tone the breed should have.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? “ANY misconceptions”—that could be a long list! The Royal Family didn’t put the hound in long, glorious coat and open up the palace gates and say “Go, run down dinner.” Those who could and did “run down dinner” were the ones that were kept and prized.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Sadly current lifestyles aren’t geared for a large breed with coat demands—those who want a pet possessing a calmness and beauty about them without a non-stop need to “activity” (they pick and choose when they want to be active—usually when some small critter catches their eye!) will find the breed suitable for their lifestyle.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? For me: I see what I need to very early—a day old pup will have a shape and scope that will never change—the key time for me is about 12 weeks when they have to show me a clear “sense of self” which includes how they interact, respond and carry themselves in different situations. Those that rise to those marks have always developed into a perfect Afghan Hound in body and mind.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? If one doesn’t take the time to see the breed “work” in what was their habitat as a powerful coursing dog on mountainous terrain over long distance and time—they will never understand why correct structure is so important. If they are impressed solely by the beauty and elegance of the breed they are missing the full understanding of the breed. The words “Powerful, Strong, Punishing, Strength” are used repeatedly in the Standard. There are a few correlations one can use: An “Aristocrat” is like the Royal Family—they have a stature and bearing that upholds under any situation, they don’t recoil and shriek when confronted by someone or something unexpected, they show disdain and move on—that is “aloof”. No judge should reward fear and/or aggressiveness ever! The Standard is clear: “Temperament: Aloof and dignified, yet GAY (my caps) Faults: shyness and sharpness.” Those words tell me that “Aloof, dignified and gay” all need to be present.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I don’t really know the answer to this specific to the Afghan Hound They will always have a unique following, but the dog sport has to get way more proactive in promoting everything about the purebred dog and their virtues of owning a breed with predictable size, function and temperament that they expect. Seeing more dogs in performance competitions is helping. Everyone has to work to this end—before the purebred dog meets its end!

My ultimate goal for the breed? This is a timely question for me personally. It is almost 18 years since I last exhibited and 12 years since the last Grandeur litter was bred. Evelyn Rechler and I decided we had to act now if we wanted to have Afghan Hounds around as we advanced in age. We used 30-year-old semen of a dog I bred and owned with Roger Rechler (Ch. Triumph of Grandeur: sire of Ch Tryst of Grandeur) and co-bred with great friends with a 40+ year old line that had Grandeur behind them—eight champions from that breeding invigorated me to now represent in the show ring once again. The breed has changed in my estimation over those years and this might just be the last chance for me to have a dog presented that I think is representative of the Afghan Hound as I know it. I won’t be showing the dog personally, remember the “age” thing, but those who have been around almost as long as myself and the kennel are super supportive to see an attempt to swing the pendulum back to the way we remember.

My favorite dog show memory? There are too many to mention in this one space, but all of them involve a special dog, a family member and the two owners of the Grandeur Afghan Hounds: Sunny Shay and Roger Rechler.

 

Sandra Frei

I was born into the dog show world and teamed with my mother, Virginia Withington in the late 60s to make Stormhill one of the top Afghan Hound kennels in the world.

As a breeder, owner-handler, I showed Ch. Stormhill’s Who’s Zoomin Who to #1 Afghan in 1989, retiring her as the #1 Afghan bitch of all time. I also showed two national specialty winners: Ch.Panjhet of Stormhill (1973) and Ch. Calais Sunrise at Stormhill (1999) and numerous other dogs to Specialty, Group and BIS wins.

Throughout the years, Stormhill dogs have been very successful in conformation, obedience, agility and therapy work.

I would like to acknowledge the following co-breeders that I have been involved with over the years whose support, expertise and participation have helped immensely to carry on the Stormhill name. Most notably, Terri Vanderzee, her mother Mary Vanderzee, my ex-husband David Frei and Denise Schwebke.

I was licensed to judge Afghans in 1981 and Whippets and Junior Showmanship in 1997. I have had the privilege to judge many wonderful assignments in the USA, Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Most notably, the Afghan Hound Club of America (twice), Westminster KC (twice) and the first Australian Afghan Hound National specialty.

Today, I am mostly involved, along with my friend and kennel manager, Terri Vanderzee, in training my dogs in agility, exhibiting mostly at specialty shows and judging.

Currently, I am a member of the Evergreen Afghan Hound Club (Vice President), Seattle KC (AKC Delegate) and Western Washington Hound Assn.

I live in Woodinville, Washington. Currently, my life pretty much revolves around my involvement in dogs.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? Sadly, I do not see the ranking of the breed increasing. The popularity of the breed has diminished for many reasons. First of all there aren’t that many new people coming into the breed. So many breeders have retired from breeding and exhibiting or they have become involved in other breeds that require less maintenance. The number of Afghans being shown has greatly fallen so much so that in many areas, especially in the West, it is hard to get majors. The number of Afghans currently being shown seems to be more concentrated on the East coast than anywhere else in
the country.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? It doesn’t matter to me what type of coat pattern they have. Judges should base their decisions on the quality of the dog and how well they represent the standard and not be influenced by the coat pattern. I know that many breeder-judges will put up a patterned Afghan whereas all rounders rarely put up patterned dogs.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? To me structure and its effect on movement is very important. The Afghan is a square breed. They should appear balanced when standing and moving. Today you see dogs that have much more kick in their rears than they do reach.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Afghans do have a very independent nature. However, aside from being show dogs they can be trained for obedience, rally, agility, Canine Good Citizen, Barnhunt, Nosework, therapy dog and
trick dog.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Afghans aren’t for everyone. They are a high maintenance, large breed that requires a lot of care and expense whether you are a breeder or an owner. It has been much harder for people to find a puppy since fewer litters are being bred.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? Of course we look at them when they first come out of the sac. We begin evaluating them at six, eight and 12 weeks of age through table training and video and watching them moving around on their own and playing with them. By 12 weeks we have made our evaluation as to which one we decide to keep and which ones will either be going to a show home or pet home.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? They are a balanced breed when standing and moving. They should not be over exaggerated in anyway.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Through education when you are inquired about the breed and the different things they can do with their dog if they choose to
own one.

My ultimate goal for the breed? That the breed is preserved.

My favorite dog show memory? The show that our bitch Multi BIS and SBIS Ch. Stormhill’s Who’s Zoomin Who broke the record for the most BIS wins by an Afghan Hound bitch in the history of the breed. She retired with 20 BIS.

I’d also like to share about the breed that even though they are high maintenance, they make wonderful companions.

 

Susan Hamlin

I live in Elmira (New York’s southern tier). I retired as the administrative manager (handled all non-academic functions) of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Baker Institute, an off-campus unit (where the canine distemper and parvovirus vaccines were developed). I now volunteer in my community—worked on the restoration of an antique carousel, volunteered at the National Warplane Museum (flying on a restored B-17, the Fuddy Duddy, every weekend), wrote a book Welcome to the Witherill about my family’s hotel in Plattsburgh, New York where I grew up, and am presently a board member of the Friends of the Elmira Civil War Prison Camp, and currently working with another board member on a book about Elmira’s role in the Civil War.

I got involved with dogs as a kid (Cocker Spaniels), won the Gaines Girl Show Dog award in 1953, former member of the Elmira Kennel Club—past board member and show chairman; member—Afghan Hound Club of America (past recording secretary, board member, trophy chairman, compiled and edited “Afghan Hounds in America” in early 70s, former “TopKnot News” editor, implemented the AHCA’s iconic logo); founding member of the Finger Lakes Afghan Hound Club.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I’d like it better if the breed ranked under 100 (between 90 and 100).

Do these numbers help or hurt the breed? Smaller entries either means that dogs aren’t being shown and/or that fewer are being bred and/or registered. We’ll probably never again see the entries of the 70s and 80s, but it would be nice to see larger entries at all-breed shows and really good numbers at our showcase specialties. So, I think the low numbers hurt, but on the other hand, maybe we can hope that fewer breeders are concentrating on more quality and adherence to the standard. But as numbers go down, quality can
be jeopardized.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? The standard says that either is acceptable. However, full coat on legs and feet are pleasing and show off large, broad feet.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? That Afghan Hounds are dumb. My experience is that they stay way ahead of most of their owners. They just don’t do things the way some of the so-called “smart” breeds do them. I put a C.D. on my first champion, and learned that it had to be done her way. Once I learned that, the “training” went smoothly.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Having to deal with animal rights people, who pass themselves off as animal welfare advocates (big difference between them). Breeding/exhibiting is not an inexpensive sport, so dedication and continual learning has to be there. Be humble—and always know that there is more to learn.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? It’s good to start looking as soon as pups are up on their feet. They can change of course, but you can start to see structure, temperament and attitude.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? An elegant, squarely structured breed, that should carry himself proudly like the “king” of dogs he is. Learn about the structure under the coat.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Be kind and be open to newcomers who are curious about the breed and want to learn more.

My favorite dog show memory? Ch. Ninth Turn Argus was being handled by Jane Forsyth at the Westchester show circa 1973/1974. Argus had won the breed and was sitting on the grooming table under the tent awaiting Jane’s return from another Group ring in order for her to take him into the Hound Group. I guess he got tired of waiting, jumped off the table and just circled the ring (where another Group was being judged) with that lovely long-reaching trot that he was known for, head and tail up like he owned the place. Someone hollered, “Loose dog!” and people scrambled to catch him, but he had no intention of running away. He was just showing off and let himself be “caught”. He then went on to win the Group.

 

Edith Hanson

I started in Afghan Hounds when I was 13 years old. I finished my first homebred champion when I was 16. We only bred ten litters, but had 16 champions and that was mostly in the golden age era mentioned above. I married into Chesapeake Bay Retrievers in 1976 and had the first Best In Show Chesapeake in the western USA. (The second one overall). I became a handler and stopped breeding Afghans for a while to not compete with clients. I handled two BIS Bloodhounds and had the #1 Bloodhound. He was ranked in the top Hounds even though we only showed him in California and without advertising. Probably couldn’t do that today! I started judging in 1992 and have judged the breed at the National twice. I have judged specialties all over the USA and in Australia and Skolkluster in Sweden. We now have a Smooth Fox Terrier who just finished her championship, owner-handled, of course, thanks to my new hip. She is Ch Absolutely Here’s To Me from the last litter bred by the late James Smith with Eddie Boyes.

We live in the small town of Buhl, Idaho which is close to Twin Falls. We moved here about a year ago from Phoenix Arizona. Since being retired I enjoy researching history. My mother had done extensive genealogy and I like following up on the lives of my ancestors all the way back to the 12th century.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I do wish we had a larger base. We are at risk of having a very limited gene pool which is never good for a breed. I was most active in the 70s and 80s when it was the “golden age” of Afghans. We had an average entry of 60 or 70 at any show and it took 47 for a three-point major in California where I showed. It is interesting that so many of the Afghan breeders of that time are still in dogs either judging and/or have moved on to smaller breeds. We are getting too old to be athletic enough to show an Afghan!

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? Even though my dogs all had full coats, I do love patterned coats as long as they are properly patterned as per the standard. They must have a topknot, foot coat and leg coat. I have put up several patterned Afghans over the years.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? We have a problem with unbalanced movement caused by forward placed and/or straight fronts and over angulated rears. The Afghan is a square breed. We have a problem with long and low. The dog who flies around the ring is not necessarily the best!

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? That they are stupid! No way! They are very clever. Having lived with both Afghans and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers at the same time, obviously there was a big difference. With Afghans, they did not like to be commanded to do something. If you suggested it and they thought it was reasonable, they would comply. They have a great sense of humor. I had a CH early on who thought obedience was a kick, he earned his CD in three shows with the lowest score 192 1/2. And we all remember the beautiful bitch who scored 199 1/2 at our National under a judge who had never given a 200 and then went RWB at the huge specialty the next day.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? It is hard to find new people to be interested in the breed. It seems today people are not willing to put in the time to care for the coat. Also the “Adopt don’t Shop” mentality the AR wackos are spreading.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I haven’t bred an Afghan litter in many years. When I did I liked to watch them just running around. I would study them at about seven or eight weeks old. I liked to see carriage and attitude. I was lucky that my picks didn’t change. I do know of other lines that have to wait until they are almost six months to evaluate. Thank goodness I didn’t have to deal with that.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? That they are square. The showiest entry is not necessarily the best. The hallmarks of the breed, i.e. topknot, saddle, hipbones and proper croup and a ring or curve to the tail. There is only one “never” in our standard and that refers to the tail: Never carried over the back or carried to the side. Temperament is important. They don’t have to be a tail waggers, but need to be confident. I won’t put up an entry who won’t raise its tail.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? I wish I knew!

My ultimate goal for the breed? To attract new people who will become preservation breeders and not succumb to fads.

My favorite dog show memory? Winning the Northern California Afghan Hound Club Specialty with my breeder owner-handled Ch Dea Zenga Quinton in an entry of 266. The largest regional specialty ever held. It was so special because it was under Ellsworth Gamble and everybody was there.

I’d also like to share that last November I was with seven other former Afghan Hound breeders. None of us have Afghans anymore, we all have champions in small breeds, but all still love Afghans. Afghans were what we talked about. I am not aware of any of my friends who no longer have the breed for anything, but our getting too old to run!

 

Russ Hastings

I have owned and exhibited Afghan Hounds since 1971. My first Afghan Hound was owner-handled to become an American, Mexican and Canadian Champion and a Field Champion.

In a limited breeding program, I have been recognized by AKC as a Silver Breeder of Merit. Dogs I have bred have earned 140 titles, 33 of which are prefix titles, and the majority of those holding Dual Championships as well as companion titles. I have also received AKC’s Gold Bred-By Exhibitor Medallion. Embracing AKC’s National Owner-Handled Series, I had the #1 NOHS Afghan Hound in 2016, 2017, and 2018 with two brothers, and currently one of those is the Top Lifetime NOHS Afghan Hound. My dogs have also ranked #1 in AKC Lure Coursing four times in the past ten years.

I have held the position of Obedience, Rally and Versatility Chair for the Afghan Hound Club of America since 2015, and previously was Agility Chair for several years. In 2019, the Afghan Hound Club of America honored me with the AKC
Sportsmanship Award.

Pictured: “Tavo” Grp. Winning NOHS MBIS, #1 Lifetime GCHS, DC Bakura Suni Formula One, CD, RE, MC, LCX2, BCAT, CGC, TKN with his son, “Chase” who was six months old in the photo, and is now RBIS, Multi Grp. Winning GCHS, DC Suni Sir Viveur, RE, MC, LCX2, BCAT, CGC, TKN.

I live on a 300 acre cattle ranch in Central Texas, about an hour north of Austin with my husband, James, and our hounds. I am retired from the Texas Attorney General’s office and participate with James in my retirement with management of our commercial rental property. We have three adult children and
four grandchildren.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I am glad to see the breed become less popular than it was in the 70s and 80s. Afghan Hounds are high-maintenance, and not for every household. In addition to requiring regular coat care, it is a hunting hound, and needs a lot of area to run, and proper conditioning to maintain physical and
mental health.

The current number of Afghan Hounds being bred seems adequate to maintain genetic diversity, and not have excessive numbers ending up in rescue situations. We do have the resource of dogs collected over the past 20+ years that can be used if need be.

The Afghan Hound is an ancient breed. We are not in a stage of development,, but in my opinion are charged with preserving the unique qualities of this centuries-old hunting hound.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? The dogs I personally have owned and bred have had full coats, with
shorthaired saddles.

Our standard calls for the hindquarters, flanks, ribs, forequarters and legs to be well covered with thick, silky hair, ears and feet well-feathered, and a head surmounted in the full sense of the word with a profuse topknot. It further states that showing cuffs on legs is permissible (not preferable, but permissible).

It’s my personal interpretation that a full coat with shorthaired saddle is preferable, but cuffs are acceptable, and shouldn’t be faulted. I do, however, think an Afghan Hound carrying hardly any long silky coat, and exhibiting receding and/or entirely missing topknot is incorrect.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Structure defines movement. Today, I am seeing overall more consistent proper structure and movement in the show ring than I did in the 70s and 80s, probably due to less popularity and more limited and purposeful breeding.

Over the past 49 years, I have seen trends come and go, depending on popular kennels and sires. Currently, the trends I believe breeders (and judges) need to address are: First high-set (straight) shoulders and over-angulated rears. This appears very dramatic on the stack, but is not functional, and the hounds would break down if actually working. This lack of balance causes the dogs to appear to stand and move “uphill” and many appear to be kicking up highly with the rear while just moving the front to keep it out of the way.

A second trend which concerns me greatly is over-size. Our standard gives a recommended height and weight, suggesting a possible variation of plus or minus 1 inch. Currently, a proper sized Afghan Hound will appear almost miniature in a line-up, the puppy bitches being taller than a top-of-the-standard grown male should be. An oversized Afghan Hound cannot do its job properly. This trend is so concerning, it has prompted our National Club’s Judges Education director to write two recent articles regarding it for the AKC Gazette, and some foreign clubs to require measurement of dogs when arriving at shows.

I would hope breeders will take note and attempt to rectify this, and that judges will be careful to make themselves aware of proper size, and its usefulness to the Hounds’ function.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Yes! That Afghan Hounds are stupid. They are not easy to train because of their intelligence and independent nature, but are highly intelligent free-thinkers—characteristics which the average dog owner may find daunting. This breed was developed to think and act independently. It had to spot the game, chase it down and kill it with minimal human intervention.

It’s my opinion that we should strive to maintain that attitude and free will as a basic breed characteristic. This is NOT a Poodle or Border Collie, developed to look to their human companions for direction, That said, many of us have achieved advanced levels of understanding and teamwork (and Companion Titles) with our Afghan Hounds. It is a lot of work, but extremely rewarding.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? In many instances, Governmental controls mandate restrictions on numbers of dogs which can be kept and/or bred in specific locations, hence also effectively limiting the number of potential homes.

I have always been involved in many aspects of the sport (lure coursing, agility, obedience, rally, therapy work), and believe that participation in other aspects in addition to showing is critical considering the trend towards limiting the number of dogs one can keep.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I generally pick pups at about six weeks. Of course the three “T’s” (teeth, tails and testicles) would still need to be considered at a later age, but by six months, those are generally determined. Afghan Hounds can go through some awful growing stages, but I generally find they eventually come back to the basic structure they exhibited at about six weeks.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? This is a hunting hound. In addition to specific physical characteristics specific to the breed, it is critical that they be of proper size, and have the balance and structure (and to some degree, conditioning) to be able to function in a hunt. A judge recently told me that in the show ring he looked for the hound he thought he could rely on to bring home his dinner.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? My personal focus on newcomers is generally to
encourage participation in multiple performance and companion events as well as conformation, and I try to do that with encouragement and by example. With the current situation that most people can only have one or two dogs, they need to be able to do more with their dogs than just run around the ring.

My ultimate goal for the breed? To preserve a healthy breed able to function as close to its historical purpose as possible.

My favorite dog show memory? Aah—so many great times! My dogs have won High in Triathlon at our National Specialty a total of five times. This includes participating (and excelling) in conformation, lure coursing, and one other discipline (obedience, rally or agility) all within a couple of days’ time during our National. It’s a tribute to the conditioning (both mental and physical) and stamina of the competitors (both hound and human), and have been some of the most thrilling wins I’ve had.

I think I have actually shared that, but to re-cap—this is a hunting breed from a very harsh climate and landscape, and not a foo-foo dog developed to rest on someone’s couch. I feel it is critically important to maintain the Afghan Hound as a functional, capable and highly intelligent free-thinking hound, capable of chasing down, killing, and bringing home dinner if need be.

 

Dr. Jerry Klein

I live in Chicago, approximately a 15 minute walk from Wrigley Field. My husband Dan and I love to travel, work out, go out to eat with friends. I worked veterinary emergency in Chicago for 36 years, but stopped doing that about three years ago due to the stress on my mind and aging body. I am currently Chief Veterinary Officer for the American Kennel Club

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I have no problem with Afghan Hounds not being “popular”, but I am concerned about why they have become so. In my opinion, a couple of causes: the study about 15-20 years rating the intelligence of dog breeds and Afghan Hounds ranking last on the list did not help. I feel we fanciers and the Parent Club did not take that seriously enough at the time and should have been more assertive attacking the topic. As anyone who has had an Afghan Hound, they are not at all stupid. They are sensitive and smart, much like cats. They usually get their way. They may get into the garbage, but are clever enough to detect the food from the packaging, unlike Labradors, for instance, and often are able to cover up their “thefts.” Dumb like a fox.

That is why my husband has been so beneficial to me and to our dogs. He did not come “from Afghans”, but rather from Labs and Shepards, he treats them that way. The dogs go everywhere with us: to the market, to get coffee, to the park. We try to get them out as much as we can and the public response always is interesting
and wonderful.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? As I alluded to in the previous question, I feel the lack of popularity is, in my opinion, due to a couple of causes. The second cause is coat. Afghan Hounds now have coats that the average dog owner cannot possibly keep up without having to clip them down, which defeats the purpose of getting and Afghan Hound. They have become coats that MUST be fully bathed and groomed at least weekly to prevent matting and this is due to the amount of coat and also the quality or texture of the coats. True silky coats are seen less often these days.

On top of that, the Afghans around now are usually depicted on social media and when on the street with their hair bundled in wraps (which seems ridiculous to the average person), or clipped down with long, poufy feet. By the way, clipping Afghans down and leaving the hair on the ears and feet started back many years ago when Afghans had huge coats and bigger entries. It often took many years to finish a dog when the entries were averaging 80-120 or more per dog show. They would clip them down to mature, but since ears and feet hair growth took longer, that hair was left on to facilitate getting them into the ring sooner. That’s how this strange clipped pattern emerged.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? The ring is all we have in conformation to judge type, temperament and movement—and in only 2 and ½ minutes. They must be judged at the trot per AKC rules and custom. However, the Afghan Hound is a galloping (and trotting) breed when doing its work. So it is a bit difficult to get a full assessment of the breed watching it only in one “gear”. But, that is what we must do unless one is involved in coursing, which is a more accurate way to assess function. (And that in full disclosure I have not yet participated in though I am really looking forward to doing so with my young bitch).

I do have a problem with people who do not know how to read a sentence or paragraph and then misinterpret the point.

The description of gait in the Afghan Hound Standard is: “Gait: 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.”

Please note that the words: “Elasticity” and “spring” are used in the sentence describing the gallop, not the trot!

The next sentence describes the trot. (Loose lead, fast pace, hind feet thrown forward in footprints of the front feet (not beyond the footprints), both thrown straight ahead, all done with “great style and beauty”!

Please also realize that a trot is a two beat gait, not a four beat gait like the “Rack” in Saddlebreds, which is not a natural gait. We have bred for and are running our Afghan hounds (and many other breeds as well ) to run at a rack instead of the trot because it is much flashier. And worse, judges are expecting this type of performance and rewarding this incorrect type of gait. In my opinion, of course.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? That Afghan Hounds are not smart or affectionate. They are both as well as regal, interesting, goofy, intriguing, stylish and
elegant, too.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? At 8-12 weeks. And once they get into the ring in the 6-9 class, the “stars” are obvious.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Afghans are a sighthound. They must look fast and strong, not thick or clumsy or too weedy. And they are just dogs like all others, but have a few differences: shorthaired saddles, more prominent hipbones, a ring at the end of its tail (preferably) and big feet. They are a square breed, not rectangular, though the breed has many looks and colors. And light eyes and bad tails are difficult to breed out!

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Get them out and about in society. Don’t treat them like “hot house flowers”

My ultimate goal for the breed? To preserve at least some Afghan Hounds that have the type and look that they had for thousands of years. That they become “groovy” again.

My favorite dog show memory? Winning the Afghan National with “the Matrix” dog under Michael Canalizo was special, bringing out “Soloflex” and his sister “Mimosa” out East Westminster week as puppies for the specialties preceding it and having them win big and get noticed by our peers. Showing the sisters Sweet Taboo and Tropicana in the same huge class of about 25 at our hometown Chicago national and having them place first and second. Sweet Taboo then went on to win Best in Sweepstakes and Best of winners the next day. Bringing new hopefuls out for the first time at big shows to show how proud and excited we are of them and having people we don’t even know or in different breeds come up to us and appreciate them as much as we do. Those things matter and keep one going.

The proper temperament: aloof, dignified and yet gay” is difficult to assess in the show ring as a judge, as you may only get a glimpse of them. But if you ever do live with or are lucky enough to hang around an Afghan Hound that has correct temperament, the description rings absolutely true. And by the way, this description negates overly sketchy, spooky dogs that don’t recover easily.

 

Ellen Klosson

I live in Darnestown, Maryland, just northwest of Washington, D.C., with my husband, Peter Boyd, and am in private practice as a psychoanalyst. I began in Afghans in 2005, with my first show dog, Becket (SBIS Am. and Can. CH Pahlavi Sundance Festival, JC). I credit Karen Wagner with entrusting me with my first two Afghans (Becket and my foundation bitch, Laila), and her superb judgment on breeding decisions. I’ve been active in conformation, coursing, agility, CGC, and recently, in Rally, and am a member of the AHCA and Potomac Afghan Hound Club. I also recently purchased a Danish Warmblood dressage mare, whom I hope to show.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? Well, I certainly hope this will change, as the number of Afghans is dwindling. When I began with the breed, in 2005, you needed ten dogs for a three-point major, and at least 20 for a five-point major. In my Division, the numbers are now four, five and six dogs for three, four and five point majors, as fewer and fewer litters are being bred. It’s difficult to attract younger people to the fancy, and many of us are getting older and are reluctant to take on the long-term responsibility for the puppies we would breed. In addition, with fewer litters being bred, and many breeders choosing the same sires repeatedly, I worry a little about the lack of diversity in the gene pool.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? Patterned coats are part of the genetics of our breed. All-breed judges frequently dismiss patterned Afghans as if patterning were a fault. This is a shame. In Afghanistan, hunting Afghans have very little coat—both because they aren’t bred for it, and because the terrain is tough on coats. We’ve moved breeding programs more toward glamour, sometimes at the cost of function. Patterned dogs give us an opportunity to see, not just feel for structure.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Structure should be, in my opinion, the touchstone of judging. I’ve seen judges rewarding extreme type, dogs whose height is well over the standard, dogs with sickle hocks, and dogs with exaggerated side gait. Some of these things are destructive to the breed, as they move us toward flash, and away from preservation of the agile hunting dog. Wasted movement and inferior structure interfere with the ability of Afghans to hunt prey all day on rough terrain.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? Afghans are considered less intelligent than many other breeds, as they are not slavish. I’ve never had an Afghan who wasn’t smart as a whip, and fabulous at independent thinking. They are as cunning hunting birds, rabbits, and squirrels in the yard, as they are conniving in my kitchen to steal my dinner when my back is turned. One of mine found three others on the bed, with no space for her, so she opened the bathroom door to entice them in, then jumped on the empty bed! There are Afghans in agility, and obedience, and many in coursing. I’ve gotten CGC titles on several of my dogs, coursing titles on many, and one is in Rally training. And while they are often aloof with strangers, as the breed standard acknowledges, they are loyal, affectionate clowns with their owners.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? It’s increasingly tough to find good homes for puppies, primarily because of the coat care requirements, but also the costs of installing bathing facilities in the home, as well as a six foot fence, and show costs. Coat care for show dogs is significant, and for years, two of my males needed to be groomed every five days, without fail. Younger people often don’t want to take on the work it takes to keep Afghans clean and mat-free, and don’t have the budget to take them to a groomer every week. And as I noted, many of us in the fancy are getting older, and puppies represent a 12-14 year commitment.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? I’d like new judges to interpret the standard in the context of the breed’s development as a hunting dog, and to prioritize level top lines, correct angulation, and movement over flash and glamour, so as to preserve this function, which represents the essence of the breed. No caricatures and no sickle hocks, please. Movement at the trot should be balanced and easy, so please ask for an easy working trot, not a racing trot around the ring. In an easy, working trot you can still see drive, reach, balance, and power.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Clearly, we need to do more to attract newcomers. We need to increase the exposure of our breed. Meet the Breeds is a useful way to do this. We can be more flexible in placing our dogs in great homes with owners who are more interested in clipping their dogs and coursing them, or agility training them, than they are in conformation. But I think we need to take our dogs to the public, as well. We can take them to outdoor cafes and to public parks, so that youngsters can see, meet, and fall in love with this fabulous breed. I’m sure that I fell in love with Afghans when my father and I were watching WKC on TV years ago, and he commented admiringly something like: “Wow! Would you look at that dog!”

My favorite dog show memory? In June, 2008, I took my bitch, Laila, to the Pittsburgh Afghan Hound Club specialty. She was in a soft crate under a tent, on a mat, during a downpour. When I took her out to get ready to go into the ring I saw that she had been lying in two inches of water! I raced through the park to a friend’s motor home, and tried to dry her coat, but the air was so damp that it was futile. Nearly in tears, I told her we were just going to go home, as we ran back to the show site. We emptied an entire container of powder into her coat, and she went into the ring with her breeder/handler, wavy coat and all, and won Winners Bitch.

Laila went on to finish her championship, and whelp (with Becket as sire) a litter of seven—all champions, and was the grand-dam of a bitch who was a two time AHCA National winner (2017 and 2019), and a dog who was the ASFA #1 coursing dog in 2018. And Laila herself won BOS Veteran Sweeps at the AHCA National in 2014.

 

Christine Pinkston

I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia. We are retired business-owners and before that my husband was career Navy. My dog-tribe takes up most of my day—there is pleasure in seeing so much beauty. I sometimes do volunteer work at the Military Aviation Museum which houses a treasure of vintage war-planes from many countries.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? This modern world we live in seems to be driven by those looking for instant gratification. The public, I think, prefers a pet or show dog that doesn’t require as much grooming and coat care. People are busy with their devices and spontaneous entertainment desire—Afghan Hounds don’t easily fit into that lifestyle preference. I think that Afghan Hounds are less of an ‘impulse’ breed than they were years ago and the people who truly want to own own seem to be better educated on what they are getting themselves into.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? It shouldn’t matter. But this is a coated-breed. Patterning ‘can’ fool the eye of a judge as to the balance of the dog—in a negative way. Patterning can be very attractive, but should never be rewarded as a ‘quality’. It shouldn’t be penalized or rewarded. Judge the dog. The hair is collateral, but should always be healthy and well-cared for.

Overly-coated dogs can also be hard to judge. A huge coat often hides a dog’s good qualities (angles, length of neck, set under, etc). Is the judge clever enough to trust his hands—and not only his eyes? Let’s face it, this breed is supposed to be judged in its ‘natural state’—god forbid it actually is—the dog would rarely, if ever, win.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Some dogs seem beautifully built to move and cannot. Seek and reward the dogs which are made well and have an open, easy side-gait, equal at both ends. Unfortunately, this is where my beloved breed is falling short.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? There should always be allowances for the young Afghan Hound who may not be as ‘steady’ in the ring as a little soldier. But there is little excuse for an adult whose behavior is timid, worried, leans away or doesn’t get his tail up to break the plane of his back. This may just not ‘be his day’. But, this cannot be awarded in the ring on the day. Period.

And, it is not a race in the ring. What exactly can the judge surmise from a dog who flies around. Is this a sustainable gait that the hunting hound can maintain over the harsh and unforgiving terrain they endured?

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? Owner-handlers have to make wise choices in their selection of where to show their dogs. Due to fewer ‘practice classes’ often the actual dog show becomes an expensive handling class.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I love being able to keep my better ‘show candidates’ until around 12 weeks.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Judge the whole dog. It’s got to look like an Afghan Hound and move like one. It’s got to be attractive to look at and efficient when it moves. It’s not a working dog. It’s a ‘sailboat’ of a Hound. Beautiful, sleek and light on its feet.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? People who are attracted to beauty and who respect an independent dog are candidates for ownership. Owning an Afghan Hound is a loosely constructed partnership. It’s a negotiated relationship where the human understands that this dog has his own opinion and may or may not agree to everything all of the time. But, in spite of his independence, there is no deeper bond.

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.

 

Robert Stein & Helen Winski Stein

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 comfortable 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 commercial 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 destructive) 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 beautiful 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 trouserings”; 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 angulation. 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 dispel? 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 exaggerated 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 beautiful, 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 preserve 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.

 

Betty Stites

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 Northern California Afghan Hound Club and eventually members of several others, including Dallas and Southern California, and all-breed clubs, including Santa Clara, Santa Ana, Ft. Worth and Gold Country as we have moved about. I have held almost every office in the Afghan Hound Club of America, including two different sessions as President, have headed their judges education and was a columnist for the AKC GAzette. My judging started in 1978. I was eventually approved for the Hound and Sporting groups, and have judged the breed here and in Australia and multiple
European countries.

I live in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. I’m retired from both showing and judging. Outside of dogs, I have enjoyed travel, hiking, and since returning to California,
snow shoeing.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I’m comfortable with this ranking, though I know some would like to see the numbers go up so we would have more support for various activities. I lived through the great rise in Afghan Hound popularity in the 1960s. It was not good for the breed. People who didn’t understand an Afghan Hound, or really dogs in general, acquired an Afghan more as an exotic ornament than as an athletic family member. When they discovered the problems of coat care, and the delightful, but sometimes challenging, intricacies of breed temperament, they quickly abandoned or placed the dogs, to the detriment of the breed.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? Patterned, usually meaning short haired cuffs on legs, and full coats are both acceptable. The Afghan Hound is a functional breed, a hunter who brings down game on rough terrain. Certainly the massive coats seen today could never have been maintained on the early dogs. A natural, short haired saddle is required by the standard, but sadly is missing, and so artificially stripped in, on some heavily coated dogs. Often even the heavily coated dogs will have cuffs on their legs that are simply covered over by hanging hair. Many of us are pleased to see an adequately coated, typey, patterned Afghan Hound that is representative of the original functional hunter. As long as the coat is adequate an Afghan Hound should be judged on what’s under the coat, rather than just on the coat itself. A massive blob of hair is NOT a proper Afghan Hound.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? He is a square, short backed, angular dog built for endurance and agility, not the longer body of some other sighthounds who are built for speed. His hipbones and angled croup keep his rear legs under him for drive, quick starts and turns. His front is set well on his body for much the same reason. He should move with a light ground covering gait that is not extreme. If we move his shoulders forward and flatten his croup, we get a long bodied, loose sloppy dog, who moves with an over extended gait that is not an Afghan. This happened in an effort to breed a dog with an overly extended gait (commonly called TRAD). We almost lost our breed and our type. Currently conscientious breeders both here and abroad have been working hard to get the balance back,

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? 1. Never believe the rumor that the Afghan Hound is stupid. Far from it. He is smart and he is crafty. He thinks on his own, usually with no desire to follow instructions just to please you.

2. Despite his glamour, he is an athletic, tough dog. Do not race up and throw your arms around him without a proper introduction.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? This is a large, expensive, time consuming breed. There are many people who admire, but should not own an Afghan hound. Our challenge is finding the person who has the space and time to take the responsibility of caring for and loving an Afghan Hound. These are the reasons why breed ownership will remain small—and a reason why it probably should.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I started a long period of evaluation at about eight weeks. Show worthiness definitely includes structure, attitude and temperament.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? This is an independent, powerful dog. Do not insult him by treating him like a foo foo puppy. He feels he is a king/queen and you are not. Don’t stand and stare at him, approach him quietly, slowly, and respectfully, but never with a tentative hand outstretched. Go over him in a professional manner with a light, quick hand.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Education. People have to understand why there are pure bred dogs, then understand the breed attributes, purpose and care. Only if they thoroughly understand the responsibility and expectations of breed ownership will they become lasting dog owners. Programs, local shows, and things like Meet The Breeds are a start. We must take the time to educate. Be certain that the breed’s purpose, not just the look, will fit a prospective owner’s lifestyle.

My ultimate goal for the breed? To maintain its athleticism and function, and not be changed into a fluffy couch sitter.

My favorite dog show memory? Judging specialties has always been special to me, and national specialties particularly special. Two stand out. The Saluki National years ago when a dog I had seen earlier as an insecure youngster marched into my BOB ring as a commanding and BOB winning special. The other was a Whippet national where I had the honor of placing a magnificent male from the oldest veterans class to Best of Breed over 600 plus dogs. Even more pleasing, both these dogs have been prominent in the pedigrees of several generations of dogs who are a credit to their breed.

I’d also like to share that as a judge please remember that this is a breed that demands respect. As an owner please remember the same.

 

Teri Tevlin

I currently reside in East Hampton, Connecticut. I have my Doctorate in Pharmacy and work as a Clinical Pharmacist full-time. I ballroom dance, love to travel and do crafts. My favorite thing is spending time with my husband and our four Afghans.

Do I hope the breed’s popularity will change or am I comfortable with the placement? I don’t usually pay much attention to rankings of this sort, but the popularity of this breed is definitely declining. We are pushing to get 30 dogs entered at regional specialties versus over 100 in times past. Possibly due to breed maintenance or increasingly busy schedules where people may not have a lot of time to dedicate resources. We can always hope that numbers increase, and it may be due to the lack of newcomers into our breed.

My thoughts on patterned coats vs full coats? Honestly, I hate this question. Both fully acceptable in the standard, yet many do not seem to understand. They absolutely should be judged equally and are both as beautiful as the other. Judges need to be more educated on patterned coats and learn to love and appreciate how correct it is.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? I am a firm believer that balance is the key. Regardless of breed, correct structure relates to correct movement and resulting good health. With coated breeds, don’t forget that many faults can be hidden. It is the judge’s responsibility to see past the coat and clever grooming to reveal what is underneath and fully evaluate how a dog is moving.

Are there any misconceptions about the breed I’d like to dispel? I think there are many misconceptions, but the one that always seems to come up is the intelligence of the breed. Let’s not confuse intelligence with independence, instinct, aloofness or just plain stubbornness. I think most of the time they “own” us, not the other way around. My Afghans are very intelligent and know all basic obedience commands which can be taught at a very young age. Afghans can excel in agility and other performance events.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? It seems like many people don’t have the time for a long-coated breed that requires maintenance in our busy society. It has become extremely difficult to find good homes that meet all of our needs.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? I can tell basic signs at only a few weeks, but like to fully evaluate them around eight to ten weeks. They sometimes fall apart after this, but usually return to what you saw at that age. You will be able to see attitude right away as soon as they can walk.

What is the most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? These dogs are not simply well-groomed show pieces that fly around a show ring. They need to fully understand how structure meets function and study what they were originally bred for. Judges need to see them in action to fully understand how they fulfill their purpose.

What’s the best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? This seems to be a difficult topic. The best way, in my opinion, is to be honest about all aspects of the breed and sport. I don’t feel like newcomers get the attention they deserve. We need to invite them into our homes and kennels, teach them about the breed, show them the grooming process, surround them with knowledgeable people they can rely on, and allow them to make educated decisions on whether this is the breed and/or sport for them.

My ultimate goal for the breed? Preservation. Afghan Hounds are one of the oldest breeds still in existence and we need to practice sound breeding practices or this wonderful breed will be lost.

My favorite dog show memory? I can still remember when I won my first Best in Show like it was yesterday. My dad, Joel Rosenblatt, ran into the ring crying and hugged me so hard that I can still feel it. He was never a man to show that type of emotion in public, so it was very special to me. I miss him every day.

 

Karen Wagner

I live in S. Central, Pennsylvania. My other interest is trying to ride my horse. This has been a very long journey because I started way too late, had major setbacks and bought two basically untrained horses. That, combined with my lack of skills, has made a very frustrating hobby seem like a hike to the top of Mt. Everest.

My involvement with Afghan Hounds really started in the late 70s. That was when they were at the height of their popularity. I know that at one point in the 80s, it took 32 bitches for a three-point major. I think it took five or six just to get a single point. Now it takes five or six for a three-point major We have gone from popular to a rare breed in my showing lifetime. Gone are the great breeders whose dogs you could pick out from across the show grounds. Kennel type was obvious back then. The look was important to those breeders. Now, unfortunately, we have “high volume internet puppy providers” who all of a sudden can make up champions because there is no competition, the point system allows most anything that walks upright to finish and now they can proudly advertise their CH bloodlines.

My thoughts on patterned vs. fully coated? Or the difference between a dog that can win a specialty vs a dog that can win an all-breed BIS. Rarely will you see a beautifully patterned Afghan Hound (especially a bitch) in a BIS line-up. They should be equal in the ring, but most judges aren’t impressed unless the Afghan Hound in the ring is heavily coated, trimmed beautifully and acts like a high stepping parade pony.

My thoughts on the impact of structure on movement and the effect it is having in the show ring? Our standard is specific in its description of the Afghan Hound movement. It is not an exaggerated mover, it is a balanced mover. Everything should fit to make a strong, athletic hunter. A high stationed front, sloping toppling and crouching rear is trendy now. The breed has survived trends throughout the years and will come back to the classically beautiful, balanced King of Dogs that I fell in love with from a Dog Encyclopedia. The standard is our blueprint. Nowhere in our standard is there a mention of exaggeration, pretty, lifty or bouncy gaits. The word “strong” is mentioned eight times, I think. An Afghan Hound neck thrown back over the shoulders like the modern Poodle is not strong and that hound would have trouble reaching down to grab prey. Each body part needs to be strong and in balance to do the job it was bred to do. Balance, not exaggeration.

I’d like to dispel the misconception that Afghan Hounds are stupid. They were bred to be independent hunters. Years ago, Stanley Coren wrote a book stating that Afghan Hounds had the lowest intelligence and were hard to train. This blew up on news shows, late night hosts were laughing about Afghan Hounds being the dumbest dog. Coren stated that Border Collies were the most intelligent. Somehow Dave Frei got invited to the Maury Povich show to have a show down between the two breeds. So, Julie Messersmith and I headed to NYC with Ch. Pahlavi Puttin’ on the Ritz and his very titled son, Ch Pahlavi Pizzazzz. The big showdown on air was pretty much a bust and the show never got aired. The takeaway from the show for me was that Stanley Coren was an ascot wearing, pompous idiot who got lucky that people were talking about him and his book. I remember Coren came into the green room while I was brushing my dog and he shoved a piece of Pupperoni in his face. I said, “My dog doesn’t eat chemicals,” and he turned and walked away without saying a word to me. So, the answer to the question is Afghan Hounds are very trainable, but you must approach in a different way. They hate to be bored so your time frame is about 10-15 minutes.

What special challenges do breeders face in our current economic and social climate? We have talked most buyers out of owning an Afghan Hound, so now we have the challenge of finding responsible buyers who will fence their yard, groom every week and provide some mental stimulation so a mischievous puppy doesn’t destroy their house. We have a number of those “internet puppy breeders” who sell to anyone who sends the money. Buyers want the quick and easy access to a puppy and don’t usually tolerate the inquisition that responsible breeders make them go through. Sadly, the instant gratification buyers dump the dogs in rescue, rescue places in good pet homes and we lose on both ends. All of a sudden, homes are full and we have no where to go with our health tested, sane, socialized, quality puppies. In this atmosphere, people would rather “rescue” a dog with a ton of problems and brag to their friends that they rescued their dog. Most good breeders have either aged out of the game and others have given up. We have a breed that is very appealing to the public, but not when they understand what is needed for 14-15 years of their life.

At what age do I start to see definite signs of show-worthiness? By 7-1/2 to 8 weeks I have a good idea of what I have in the litter. My dogs are fairly line-bred so not much deviates from litter to litter. I usually know who I want to keep by the eight week “official” photoshoot. I don’t usually take deposits, so there are no expectations on the part of buyers. I pick and then go by the order that the buyers contacted me about the litter. I try not to judge the puppies after nine weeks because they start changing and going wonky. By that age I’ve already lead trained, taken movies on leash and stack trained. If they get to a handling class, it’s usually after four months. I hate overtraining so I’ve also been known to just start them out at specialties where it’s low-key and they only see their own breed. It works for me, usually. I like them to have some wildness and
be spontaneous.

The most important thing about the breed for a new judge to keep in mind? Ah, so many things are important to our breed. Balance, strength, soundness, level topline standing and moving, prominent hipbones, arched and powerful neck, balanced moving—no overreaching, no overstepping. However “impressive” it is to see an Afghan Hound move with its head thrown back over its shoulders, that is a sure sign that it’s ewe necked and a fault in our standard. The guidelines that we call our standard have a purpose. The further we stray, the more we just have a prancing pony at the end of the lead. Cute, but useless.

The best way to attract newcomers to my breed and to the sport? Clubs, especially breed clubs, are such an important aspect of our sport. We brought our breed club back from the brink of losing it. Club members age, fight, fall out, get bored, etc. There needs to be something for new members. One of our newest members just made Afghan Hound history with their first Afghan Hound. He’s the first to receive the Fast Cat title. We are extremely proud of this family.

My goal is to have young people come into the breed that have the passion to understand and study the past and then use that knowledge and mentors’ help to breed a line of dogs that fit the blueprint given to us by our predecessors. Maybe our breed will eventually have a savior who will bring us back from
near extinction.

I have two favorite dog show memories. First one is the year that I was showing Ch Pahlavi Puttin’ on the Ritz at the Garden. I had just stopped smoking (cold turkey) in December. My emotions got the best of me and I started crying and arguing with Michael Canalizo before the breed judging. He had Ch Blu Shah of Grandeur and Judy Fellton was the judge. I had a good chance and I can’t remember why I lost my mind that day, but I was ugly crying! By ring time, I composed myself and won the breed. Panic set in about going in the Group. June (then Vaccaro) decided I needed a skirt for the Group, I remember buying a fairly ugly outfit. So, almost Group time and my friends decided I needed a couple drinks to calm my nerves. I’m ready for the televised Groups and Joy Behr says, “Don’t worry about the thousands of people in the stands, think about the millions watching on TV.” I was fighting it out with the top winning Bloodhound and I kept praying not to get first. There was no way I wanted to go in the BIS ring. That almost paralyzed me that night. I ended up with the second place ribbon.

My second best memory was at Santa Barbara KC. John Reeve-Newson was judging. I have a history of getting heart palpitations and, of course, got one before breed judging. I was showing a young bitch who had done some nice winning, but knew there were a couple male specials that I wasn’t likely to beat. So, Carol and Fran Reisman decided to help me out with my racing heart and told me to use the asthma inhaler. Little did I know, that it was going to have the opposite effect and made it much worse. I remember laying in the back seat of their rental trying to will my heart to beat normally. Somehow I managed to make it to the ring and my little girl was putting on the performance of a lifetime. John was making his final decision, sent us down and back for the last time. She planted into a perfect self stack in front of him, looked at him with her usual arrogance and a gust of wind picked up her topknot to complete the perfect photo moment. I heard the spectators gasp—it really was that kind of frozen moment that people still talk about. We won BOB and went on to a Group 3 under Annie Clark.

 

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