afghan hound Q&A wiTh duAne BuTherus, helen sTein & roBerT sTein
6. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? DB: I often hear long time Afghan people complain about the loss of distinct lines of dogs developed in the past by particular breeders. This is indeed regrettable, but is, I believe, a consequence of the loss of the market for pet/companion puppies. If a somewhat daring breeding didn’t pan out, you still got attractive, healthy puppies that could be easily placed into good, non-show homes. There used to be breeders whose line of dogs were par- ticularly noted for certain traits. If you needed to improve your fronts, for example, you could breed to a dog from a line noted for good fronts. Breeders have had to become much more conservative in breeding, becoming less developmental in their breeding programs, with the con- sequent loss of distinct lines. HS: When judging them, please approach confidently, as if approaching a Doberman Pinscher. Simply walk up (don’t sneak!), do your exam and don’t take forever doing it. Don’t talk to the dog! 7. And, for a bit of humor: what’s the funniest thing you’ve ever experienced at a dog show? DB: Two stories, one amusing and one compelling: at the National Specialty in Denver years ago, Archie Clot was judging, and in one of her early dog class’s, an exhibitor brought in a life-sized (black-masked red) stuffed Afghan toy, set it up at the end of the line and proceed to stack it like a regular entry. Archie went down the line, look- ing at each dog. When she came to the stuffed one, she said to the exhibitor that he probably wouldn’t want to take the dog around but could stand back against the fence while the others moved. Having been found out, the exhibitor picked up the dog and carried it out as the other made their first go around. Secondly, at the Kennel Club of Philadelphia (benched show) one year, a gentleman came up to the club table about an hour before the morning benching deadline and asked if he could be allowed to leave in the afternoon before the 4:00 benching departure time. His explana- tion went like this—he stated that there was a major in his breed that day, one of the few for his breed, and his ill wife made him promise that he wouldn’t break the major. Unfortunately, his wife died a couple of days earlier, and the viewing at the funeral home was scheduled at 3:00 on the day of the show. He indicated that if he was not allowed to leave early, he would not show his dog and would break the major. But in honor of his promise to his dying wife, he would like to show the dog, not break the major, and then leave immediately for his wife’s services. We never knew if his story was true or not, but if not, it was so creative that we couldn’t refuse his request. He held the major, didn’t win, but got to the funeral home in time.
fewer of these really good dogs. Of concern is that we seem to be breeding good, sound, plain dogs, quite con- trary to the breed requirements of aristocratic dogs “with no trace of plainness…” We do seem to see a smaller percentage of truly exciting dogs. HS: No. Currently, many dogs suffer from the long-and-low syndrome. Many tails are short and many tails hit the back. Both problems are so incorrect and detract from an elegant appearance. RS: Not necessarily—there are a few very good breeders now. 5. What do you think new judges misunderstand about the breed? DB: I tend to separate judges into breeder and non-breeder groups, including some other knowledgeable sighthound judges in the breeder group. I expect breeder judges to reward those characteristics that are particularly critical to the breed, and tend to forgive non-breeder judges when they reward a good, sound dog that may be more generic. I feel, for example, that few judges understand the proper floating Afghan gait, in which the dog appears to elevate above its stacked height, but without noticeable bounce in the movement. Not recognizing this is maybe forgiv- able, as it is seen so infrequently, now or in the past, but I expect that a breeder judge will strongly reward this movement. I expect that breeder judges will not be fooled into thinking that fronts or rears flying up in the air denote good movement. A good breeder judge will ascertain where the pads of the feet actually contact the ground and where the pads come off the ground at the end of a stride and begin the recovery part of the gait cycle. It is not flashy, but it is economical and correct. There are numerous other features that good breeder judges should find and reward. Long, strong arched necks are another example. No “stovepipe” neck should be rewarded, as attractive as it may be to the uninformed. I am incredulous that judges will often overlook such obvi- ous and visible problems such as sloping toplines—even when moving! HS: We drum into students’ heads that this is a square breed. And it is! However, a dog that is too short in loin will not have correct movement coming, going or from the side. The Afghan Hound, a hunting dog, should be sound in movement. Maybe it’s difficult for new judges to distin- guish between where the legs are moving and where the coat is flying. I would appreciate if judges would become comfortable with seeing through coat before judging the Afghan Hound. RS: A lot! Hard for them to analyze if they aren’t familiar with a coated breed. Also movement needs to be light and springy, not bouncy .
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