Thursday, January 26, 2012

Afghan Hound Originally Persian Greyhound Best Breed and Breeders

The Afghan Hound, a sight hound, developed as a hunting dog in the Balkh, Barakzai, and Kurram valley areas of ancient Egypt, known now as Afghanistan. The earliest records of the Afghan date back some 8000 years ago to this area of ancient Egypt. These records show that they were used to hunt such animals as mountain deer, plains antelopes, hares, wolves, and snow leopards.

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!

Afghan Hound

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.

Afghan Hound Originally Afghanistan
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 wwas 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 know that her dogs were later to be 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.

Afghan Hound

She borrowed from published information outside her immediate experience in Egypt and possibly Arabia texplain that there were many “Natypes. Persian Lightning and Arrow were placed in the Kirghiz Greyhound bbox, 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 anational type breed borders, like those seen in Western breeds became the order of the day.

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.

Afghan Hound Recommended Food
Native food supplies for this breed would have included the mountain deer, plains antelopes, hare, wolves, snow leopards, fox, and fowl. The Balkh, Barakzai, and Kurram valley areas also provided grain crops
such as wheat, corn, barley, and brown rice. There was a form of beef cattle in this area. However, the prevalent religions forbid the use of beef as a food source for humans and dogs alike. Therefore, I feel it is
unlikely that the Afghan was exposed to this form of meat. For the Afghan hound I recommend foods with a high fiber, high carbohydrate percentage. The protein should be from sources of poultry and lamb, the carbohydrates from brown rice and wheat. For this breed I recommend you avoid foods based on soy, beet pulp, horse meat, or beef and their by-products.


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