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CAUTION - CHANGING A BREED STANDARD
By Patricia (Pat) H. Gilbert

If you open any Breed Standard to small changes, everyone has an agenda and big or inadvertent changes occur. We are working with a half dozen Parent Clubs on changes to their breed Standards that have this problem. The Havanese people are seriously close to splitting a relatively new AKC breed. Why? Members don't like each other and the breed has coat issues.

Standards are written by and for people who know dogs and their breed. They are a blueprint with room for individual interpretation and do not need to spell out everything. Basic anatomy is assumed. Four legs are not really mentioned in any Standard but as a judge show me a three legged dog and see what happens.

The Afghan Hound breed is in great shape because the Afghan Hound Club of America (AHCA) left the Standard alone.  It is untouched since 1948. It is not archaic. It is in "memory of ages past". It tells me the world each time I read it. Yes, there are traditions and additional nuances in the breed not spelled out specifically. It involves knowing the breed. It involves study.

Better to educate the public, owners, handlers, breeders and the judges. The AKC is not responsible for breed education. The Parent Clubs are responsible for breed education.

The AHCA does have excellent programs for breeder's education, and judge's education. Ed and I presented The Heritage of the Afghan Hound in MN a few years ago at the National. We discussed mandarins, monkey whiskers, scented, etc. We discussed the nuances of the breed. We have a CD of the expanded version for sale to benefit Afghan Hound Health and Rescue Efforts.

There are books on the breed such as “The Complete Afghan Hound”, by Constance Miller & E. M. Gilbert Jr. (out of print).

Go to the AHCA website and read the excellent material there. It is written by some of the most prestigious past and present Afghan Hound people.

The people, the material, the videos, and the CD's are out there. You can lead the horse to water, but...today's horses act more like camels with no thirst for knowledge.

I cannot imagine getting involved in owning or showing or worse judging a breed without study. Yet many believe, people do it every day and it is common.

Yet some in the fancy really think the solution is to change a Standard for people who do not know what the words mean anyway. Change it for people who don't care enough to interpret the words? Change it for people who do not know basic anatomy? Change it for people who do not understand breed specific conformation or movement? NOOOOOO. Leave the Standard alone and educate the people.

This is, as you can read, a hot point with me. Give them a copy of the Standard and then discuss the various points. Teach people how to read and interpret Standards. That is what Ed and I do at our seminars.

Some advocate changing the Afghan Hound Standard to include allowances for the differences between puppies and adults. Some have stated: "The Standard doesn't differentiate between puppy and adults." Yet a reading of the Standard shows this statement to be untrue.

The AKC Afghan Hound Standard states: “Coat - ...the saddle...hair is short and close, forming a smooth back in mature dogs...Fault - Lack of shorthaired saddle in mature dogs.”

A study of the breed and semantics will show that a puppy is not a mature dog and therefore is not expected to have a saddle.

Education is the only change I want to see.

When it comes to breed Standards it is best not to open Pandora’s box.