Breed Box Bingo 2 - THE AFGHAN HOUND POST - On The Cover

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Breed Box Bingo 2 - THE AFGHAN HOUND POST - On The Cover Powered By Docstoc
					                                Breed Box Bingo
                                         Jim Coudriet

   How many types of Afghan Hound are there? And what of the smooth/short haired kind
and Taigans? It depends on whom you ask. The reason there are conflicting bits of
information and ideas about the Afghan Hound and related “breeds” is that there isn’t any
real definitive authority on dogs. Breed classifications, like Afghan Hound, aren’t some sort
of taxonomic, scientifically arrived at conclusion but rather an agreement among those who
care to agree. An Afghan Hound is an Afghan Hound because a number of people classify
and identify a particular type of dog as an Afghan Hound and nearly everyone that considers
it agrees. If you don’t believe it, just ask us!
     This is true for every breed not just the Afghan Hound. The need for a classification like
“breed” came about because domestic dogs evolved along the side of man. It was selectively
bred to fill the various needs of man, resulting in various forms distinct from one another.
Terrier form evolved from the need to “go to ground”, Collie form evolved from herding
and Greyhound from a type of hunting called coursing. Breed classification came from form
and form came from function. The separation in those processes, the defining of forms,
function causing forms, is important.
       In a period around the turn of the last century Western man really started to take this
seriously and because dogs that performed similar functions weren’t all exactly alike, finer
distinctions were necessary. Scottish Deerhounds and English Greyhounds were both
coursers but obviously not the same. Harrier, Foxhound; Pembroke, Cardigan; English
Setter, Irish Setter all finer distinctions requiring a finer definition and all able to be found
“on site” in the place where this started, in England.

                     Native Afghan Hounds in Afghanistan (Newton/Kamal)

   Into this environment enters the Persian Greyhound. England was busy expanding its
Empire and the Oriental Sighthound was brought back for display like so many trophies.
They were quite a curiosity and caused a bit of a stir with the newly emerging middle class
with leisure time to pursue those curiosities. Mainly the prize of Military men and their wives
the Oriental Sighthound came from such far off and exotic places as Egypt, Syria, Persia and
Afghanistan. Persian Greyhound, the jingoistic breed name given at the time, worked well
enough for a decade or two at the dog shows still in their infancy. Unlike today there weren’t
so many group distinctions, just sporting and working (herding) were all that was needed and
for the Persian, like other trophies, there
was the “Foreign” class. Dogs in the
foreign class weren’t distinguished by
function. But as dog shows and the
interest in them grew, so too did
competitive emotions. Variety in the
show ring started to become
synonymous with disparity. Unfair
advantages due to type became the
claim. In an early documented case the
dog pictured at right, either Persian
Arrow or Lightning, (it isn’t clear which),
was claimed by the owner to be at a
disadvantage against Lady Amherst’s
Persians. Amherst was an early Persian
Greyhound expert and many of you will
                                               *Photo courtesy “Gazehound: The Search For Truth”
know that her dogs were later to be                              (Miller/ Hoflin)
called Salukis.
      At this stage, circa 1907, the fancy was becoming aware of great variety in Persians. A
number had made it back to England, including Zardin and Afghan Bob. Amherst’s own
were, of course, becoming familiar to all. There can be no dispute that between Zardin and
Amherstia’s Persians there was a wide range of variety but to look at the picture of Persian
Lightning, (or Arrow), above, it is hard to imagine much difference in this dog and
Amherst’s Salukis or even modern day Salukis. As the Sporting Press crowned Persian
authority, Amherst who had spent time in Egypt while her husband was on duty there, was
                                                     called on to “rule” on the issue of “types”.
                                                     She did the best she could to mollify the
                                                     dissent and clarify the apparent
                                                     differences. She borrowed from published
                                                     information outside her immediate
                                                     experience in Egypt and possibly Arabia to
                                                     explain that there were many “National”
                                                     types. Persian Lightning and Arrow were
                                                     placed in the Kirghiz Greyhound breed
                                                     box, known as Taigans today, by Amherst.
                                                     It’s doubtful that Lady Amherst had any
                                                     direct experience with the hound of
                                                     Kyrgizstan but as the authority, her
                                                     “classifications” went unquestioned and
                                                     national type breed borders, like those
                                                     seen in Western breeds became the order
                                                     of the day.
       Native Afghan Hound (Newton/Kamal)
                                                         Without ever looking back we’ve
continued to build our breed boxes in the same way to this day.
     Into this atmosphere came the Bell-Murrays and the Amps from Afghanistan in similar
military circumstances to Amherst. Much has been made of the “distinct” types the Bell-
Murrays had as opposed to the Ghazni (Amps) kennel. A closer examination reveals a
distinction in imagination only.
Both kennels had Oriental Sighthounds of varied type, compact and rangy, well covered in
coat and patterned (feathered) coats. A “proper type” battle ensued that wasn’t drawn along
the lines of mountain and desert but more simply on the lines of “correct”. More to the
point, however, the battle was for the breed throne. Since at the time no Kennel Club judge
could be expert on a dog they had no experience with, like the Oriental Greyhound, they had
to look for expertise from sources that were familiar. If one could convince others they were
correct, that they were the experts, their dogs were therefore also correct.
    Mrs. Amps, as we are aware, won the crown and was seated in the Afghan Hound throne.
A clear victor, all compromise was swept aside. A “last ditch” attempt from neutral parties to
reconcile and revert back to the Persian Greyhound inclusive breed box with “both” types
of Afghan Hound and the newly christened Saluki was lost.
                                                      This has left us with some puzzling
                                                      curiosities, conflicts or contradictions.
                                                      The breed boxes we built back then
                                                      seem to leave some dogs outside the box
                                                      or in some cases overflowing.
                                                         It isn’t shouted from the rooftops but
                                                      on occasion Salukis are born with or
                                                      develop later in life more coat than fits in
                                                      their box and heavily coated “breeds” are
                                                      born coatless.

                                                        Left: A Sarona Saluki (Lance) of Syrian descent
                                                        (*“Gazehound: The Search for Truth”

     As mentioned in the question to the “Review” there are also the matter of smooth
Afghan Hounds. Like breed boxes these smooths born from coated parents aren’t explained
by science yet either. Actually, the coat
of the Afghan Hound and Saluki or any
Oriental Hound hasn’t been explained.
    In coat the dog has two possibilities.
The dominant trait is the short hair and
the recessive trait for the allele is long
hair. So the expression of short hair,
smooth without any long hair at the ears
or anywhere else, from coated parents
can’t be a hidden recessive gene. At least
not the way we understand it today. This
phenomenon occurs in Salukis as well
but is less a “concern” because the breed
accepts both feathered (coated), smooth,
and all coat patterns that fall between.
Another possible explanation is a
mutation or a “sport” where the                Colorado bred smooth from coated parents (Robison/Ray)
recessive trait for a gene toggles back to its dominant state. But in the matter of types of
Afghan Hound it really isn’t important how or why it happens, it is important only that we
know it does happen. I’m aware of this happening only about 4 times in Western, registered
breedings, where a smooth is whelped from coated parents in Salukis but in Afghans it
appears to happen more frequently. Eta Paupit
has a website where she chronicles quite a few in
recent years and informal surveys reveal even
more, maybe 20. Knowing as we do that a
smooth can be born to coated parents, we have
to understand then that this same thing will also
happen in the native population as well. A native
population, as it happens, not bound by a Kennel
Club, or the finer distinctions they require. A
population that defines a breed by what it does
could also classify and accept a different and
wider range of breed characteristics. Its function
in such environments defines “breed”.
     This is how the conflicts and contradictions
come about. The cultures that created the
Oriental Sighthound don’t view dogs in the same
way the West does. Dogs there are generally
thought of as unclean or undesirable. There are            Native Afghan Hound (Newton/Kamal)
of course dogs in the region but other than as help for the herder, farmer or hunter these
cultures have little tolerance for them. In this regard, the Oriental Sighthound, or as it is
called there, the Tazi, isn’t really considered a dog. Their special status is reflected in
Religious provisions made especially for an animal that provides for the Muslim. Guard and
herd dogs are tolerated also but not with the same status provided the Tazi. In this way the
growth and maintenance of the Tazi was relatively the same as dogs in the West, but
predates it greatly, up to the point where Kennel Clubs came to be.
     Kennel Clubs changed the way all of us look at “breeds” but for the Tazi, their owners
never got the memo. For thousands of years the Oriental Sighthound has made its way up
and down, back and forth across the Silk Road from North Africa, the whole of Asia Minor,
                                                          the Middle East to parts of China and
                                                          Russia. It’s “standard” was its
                                                          performance not some arbitrary
                                                          written description. If the dog caught
                                                          game and fit other traditional cultural
                                                          criteria it was a Tazi.
                                                               This isn’t to say that there isn’t a
                                                          pride in a particular and distinctive-to-
                                                          the-eye type of Tazi; there is pride
                                                          involved in what is a better one than
                                                          another. And surely that pride can
                                                          find itself aligned with borders that
                                                          are drawn on a current map of the
    Native Taigan in Kyrghizstan (W. Regar - Switzerland  region. An Afghani will proudly
inform you that the Tazi is of his Afghanistan’s heritage, maybe even left there from Noah’s
Ark but that should not be compared to the organized conformity of national and
international Kennel Clubs. That type of thinking, that of Kennel Club breed organizations
is merely one hundred years old or so, while the Tazi has been around for thousands of
     During those thousands of years the Tazi has survived throughout regions great
distances apart, variations in terrain, climate and culture, due to a remarkably adaptable set of
genes. From the Sahara Desert to the Himalayas the Oriental Sighthound had to adapt or
perish, there were no other options.

  Cleopatra and Caesar native Taigans from a diplomatic gift to Norway from Kyrghizstan.(Eva Vernstad)

   Travels, changes, and the resulting adaptations necessary to survive meant that there
would be great variation in types, as great as the environmental extremes varied. Once
deposited from the pipeline that was the Silk Road, the success of the Tazi, due largely to its
ability to adapt, would mean its perpetuation in that locale. Though probably never a static
population, it is conceivable that populations would gain a “flavor”, like a landrace. There is
                                                              a tendency in this to think of
                                                              those populations as the same
                                                              types as we have in the West, but
                                                              again, there was never the type
                                                              of organized conformity in
                                                              native circumstances that you
                                                              have in Kennel Clubs. Periods of
                                                              possible “isolation” may have
                                                              occurred with hounds left in
                                                              villages or with nomadic tribes
                                                              along the way tethered to tribal
                                                              allegiances but eventually the
                                                              Tazi would find its way as a
                                                              valuable commodity to become
                                                              mobile again.
  Cleo and Tai at play in their home in Norway (Eva Vernstad)       In addition to the
adaptations the Oriental Sighthound would pick up and drop off in its travels it also was
enveloped by new perceptions, ideas and names from the people they traveled with and the
new people they met. Saluki is a word used for this dog in some limited quarters of the
hound’s domain but nowhere in the region will it be referred to as an Afghan Hound. To the
Afghani it will be called a Tazi, be it a Saluki or Afghan Hound.
In Kyrghizstan it will be called a Taigan. Throughout
most of the Oriental Sighthound’s domain it is called
a Tazi, perhaps due to the use of that word by some
Persian speakers to refer to things Arabian. It is used
that way sometimes even today, but for most who use
the word, Tazi has gained it’s own meaning relative to
the speaker of the many languages that use it. It may
mean simply “the dog” to them, or “to pursue, to
gallop” or, no doubt, many other things to different
people as words do in any language when borrowed
by another.
     Times and perceptions change. What was Russia
became the Soviet Union and is now the former
Republics of the Soviet Union like Kazakhstan,
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrghizstan. With those
changes come a new perspective and a National pride.
                                                               Young native Taigan (W. Regar )
    In Kazakhstan a renewed interest in what they believe to be an indigenous breed
regardless of any similarly named or looking hound. They have their Tazi. They have very
specific and different ideas about their hound and it is derived from an historical connection
                                                              to it. In Russia today if you were
                                                              to ask dog people how many
                                                              types of Afghan Hound there are
                                                              you would get the same answer
                                                              as in the West, two types, but
                                                              they would mean something very
                                                              different from those already
                                                              involved in the Kennel Club
                                                              systems of the world. For the
                                                              Russian the two types are the
                                                              “Decorative” Afghan Hound,
                                                              meaning the kind we have kept
                                                              and maintained for the last
                                                              hundred years and the
                                                              Aboriginal Afghan Hound
                                                              meaning the real one or native
  Native Kazakh Tazis at home in New Mexico (Bodio/Ruebesam)   one.
    Some native Afghan Hounds have filtered into Russia through their recent war there and
after, which has generated interest in them for hunting as with Borzoi, an essential part of its
keeping. Borzoi is an interesting word that has generated a bit more confusion among those
struggling to place these new “breeds” into their proper boxes. Borzoi, translated, has been
compared to the word Tazi, which is used to describe “greyhound” types since so many
different people of different cultures and languages use it. As with everything surrounding
Oriental Sighthounds one has to be careful about “reverse engineering”. To the people who
do use the word Tazi, it does cover any dog of greyhound type from any where in their area.
But, there is only one greyhound in their area from their point of view. We may think of
those same dogs as an Afghan Hound, Saluki, Kazakh Tazi, and Taigan but they would only
see a Tazi.
   Breed box rules like a Saluki in Afghanistan is a Desert Type Afghan Hound. Mountain
Type Afghan Hounds are more well covered in hair and are more compact, which may suit
our preferences well but are really a
form of reverse engineering that won’t
always apply to the reality of a place
and people that haven’t read those

To locate a mountain type Afghan
Hound in Afghanistan, if you travel to
the mountains you may just be
disappointed. The Afghani there with
his Tazi may well have had a more
compact dog at his side, or maybe his
father, or his father before him had
one well covered with thick silky hair.
Or he may have bred them with a dog
of a friend he had hunted with and
admired very much for his success and Native Afghan Hounds in the mountains(Newton/Kamal)
skill in catching game. One that wasn’t so well covered in hair. It wouldn’t matter much to
him. The resulting progeny may not have as much coat but he gets a lot more game now.

  Native Afghan Hound in the desert (Left) and an Afghan Hound reunion after a hunt (Newton/Kamal)

    Or if you go to the more arid areas of Afghanistan you may be surprised to find the
hunters there in that particular location are more allied by familial ties (tribal ties) to other
hunters whose lives are connected to mountainous villages and colder climates. His hunting
trips and resulting breeding decisions are more often pulled from dogs with more coat and
of more compact build but work just fine for him.
     Afghanistan is a microcosm of the misperception Westerners have in understanding
borders, nationalities and affiliations of that region. Afghanistan is a potpourri of many
languages and cultures. Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrghiz, Turkmen and others call
Afghanistan home. Westerners have placed boundaries
around the land we call
borders that simply aren’t
perceived by the people on
that land they same way we
perceive them. We can call
them Afghanis and we can
call their hounds Afghan
Hounds. As long as we never
look deeply into the cultural
and canine relatives who is to

(right)A Taigan framed by the door
of a Kyrghiz yurt. A type of
nomadic home common in
Afghanistan too
                                              Photo courtesy W. Regar Switzerland
Are there two types of Afghan Hound? Yes if you want there to be. Are there three? If you
want or you can say if it isn’t one of the two types it’s something else again. Is a Taigan an
                                                                       Afghan? If you think it is. A
                                                                       breed is a “genseset” at best
                                                                       but is really a cultural
                                                                       agreement about classifying
                                                                       dogs. The difference in an
                                                                       American Foxhound and an
                                                                       English one is a conscious
                                                                       effort to selectively breed
                                                                       modifications to some
                                                                       earlier version to suit better
                                                                       its new environment. The
                                                                       Tazi reflects a conscious
                                                                       effort to maintain what has
                                                                       worked so well for
                                                                       millennia in native Regions.
                                                                              Afghanistan is a
                    Native Afghan Hound from Kabul                     crossroads for those
efforts. It is a concentration of trade routes, peoples, ideas and their hunting dogs. Cultural
adaptations and ideas, from Afghanistan and throughout, enriching one another, have
certainly enriched the Tazi gene pool. Those adaptations and ideas have also made their way
to new places and places the Tazi has already been. That’s the way it has always been and the
way it will always be.

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the following people for the use of their photographs:
Garry and Judy Newton and Mr. Kamal who has at times risked life and limb for these.
*Hoflin Publishing - 4401 Zephyr St., Wheat Ridge, Co. 80033 – V(303)420-2222 – fax-(720)207-
0382 website: for the use of their pictures from Constance O. Miller’s must read
(for any Afghan Hound admirer) “Gazehound; The Search For Truth”.
Eva Vernstad – Norway Taigans, Wolfgang Regar – Switzerland – photos from trip to Kyrghizstan.
Steve Bodio his Kazakh Tazis and Jutta Ruebesam–photo. And Vicki Robison & Kelly Ray for the
photo of Bijan-Lyrix Bandito – Sundance Kid -