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Afghan Hound

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THE AFGHAN HOUND (also known as Tazi)

By Margaret Simpson, Posh Pooch Grooming Studio, Falkirk

History Although the Afghan takes his name from the Middle Eastern Country, Afghanistan, historical sources claim that the breed was found around 7,000 years ago in the region of the Sinai Peninsula, known as the Mountain of Moses. The Sinai Peninsula is a small expanse of land between Northern Egypt and Israel. If indeed the Afghan Hounds did exist there, how did they find their way across Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran to Afghanistan? There are no clear records of such a monumental trek, which has left the door open for many different theories.

One of the most well known theories is the Afghanis’ claim that the dogs were taken onto the Ark by Noah. They support this theory with the rock carvings of the hounds in the Caves of Balkh in Northern Afghanistan. There is an old Afghan saying, "No man knoweth whence they came, but there they are and there they stay". This is probably the only true statement in many of the tales that surround the Afghan Hound.

The history of the Afghan as we know it today started in 1920 when Major and Mrs Bell Murray and their friend Miss Manson imported seven hounds. A few years later, Mrs Mary Amps imported the now legendary Ghazni hounds.

The Bell Murray "desert type" hounds were very tall and elegant with great depth of brisket and, what would be considered today, outstanding heads with the true Eastern expression. They had good ring tails, held at the right angle, but were rather straight in the hindquarters and lacking the angulation so much desired today. Bell Murray coats consisted of little more than a Saluki type feathering.

Mrs Amps (Ghazni) "mountain type" possessed the stable temperaments and heavy coats needed to improve the earlier imported hounds. However, they were shorter in the leg, heavier in the skull and had a tendency to have a higher set on of tail.

Characteristics Considered the King of dogs, the Afghan Hound should be dignified and aloof, with a certain fierceness. The Eastern and Oriental expression is typical of the breed. Their eyes look at and through you.

General appearance Once seen, never forgotten. The gait of the Afghan should be smooth and springy, with a style of high order. The whole appearance of the dog should give the impression of strength and dignity, combining speed and power.

Head Long skull, not too narrow, with prominent occiput. Foreface long, with slight stop and punishing jaws. Strong jaws with perfect scissor bite. The skull should be well balanced and surmounted by a long, silky top knot. Preferably, the nose should be black, but liver is not a fault in light coloured dogs. The head should be held proudly.

Eyes Nearly triangular, starting slightly upwards from the inner corner to the outer. Never full or bulgy. Preferably dark, but golden is not debarred.

Ears Set low and well back. Carried close to the head, covered with long silky hair.

Neck Long and strong, with proud carriage of the head.

Forequarters Shoulders long and sloping, well set back, well muscled and strong, without being loaded. Forelegs straight and well boned, straight from shoulders. Elbows held in close to rib cage, turning neither in or out.

Hindquarters Powerful well bent and well turned stifles. Great length from hip to hock, with a comparatively short distance between hock and foot.

Feet Forefeet strong and very large, both in length and breadth, covered with long silky hair. Toes arched. Pasterns long and springy, especially in front. Pads well down on ground. Hind feet long, but not quite as broad as forefeet, also covered with long silky hair.

Tail Not too short, set on low, with a ring at the end. Raised when moving. Sparsely feathered.

Size Ideal height for dogs is 27 – 29 inches and 25 – 27 inches for bitches.

Coat Long and very fine on ribs, flanks, fore and hind quarters. From the shoulders backwards, along the saddle, the hair should be short and close in mature dogs (as shown in the picture below). The saddle can be finger stripped. Hair is long from the forehead back, with a distinct silky top knot. Foreface hair is short as on the back. Ears and legs well coated. Pasterns can be bare. The coat must be untrimmed and allowed to develop naturally. All colours are acceptable.

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Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of Northern Groomers.

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Copyright 2000 Northern Groomers
Last modified: November 05, 2000