CAN A NECK BE TOO LONG?
By Patricia H. Gilbert
In some breeds some people believe a neck can never be too long. Some go so far as to think that in their breed necks can never be too long - the longer the better. Proper neck length is breed specific and based on the basic original purpose of the breed. The following concentrates on the Afghan Hound, but the case holds true for many breeds.
The Complete Afghan Hound, by Constance O. Miller and Edward M. Gilbert Jr. states: "The demand for a long-strong-powerful arched neck is common to all gazehounds for not only does it add great nobility to the structure, it is essential for any animal that is expected to reach out, from a full gallop, to grasp or bite his prey."
The longer neck is common to all sighthounds and must be considered breed by breed. We need to understand the basic original purpose to understand what length of neck is correct for each breed. An example is the Scottish Deerhound which has a long neck as stated in the AKC Standard: "The neck should be long - of a length befitting the Greyhound character of the dog. Extreme length is neither necessary nor desirable. Deerhounds do not stoop to their work like the Greyhounds....The neck must be as strong as is necessary to hold a stag."
When you know that the basic original purpose of the Deerhound was for the now extinct extremely large red stag, you would know that the hound grabs high and on the back of the neck while another hamstrings. The Deerhound does not need neck length to reach his head to the ground at a dead run. He must have strength which does not come with excessive length.
Let us discuss the Afghan Hound. The AKC Standard states "The neck is of good length, strong and arched, running in a curve to the shoulders..."
Good length is not equal to excessive length. Why do many think if a little is good, then a lot is better?
Excessive length of neck is not advantageous to any predator. A dog is a predator.
When you consider what the Afghan Hound's purpose is, why then would you want a hound whose neck is so long that when he is hunting and reaches down to grab, he would pole vault over his neck and head? There presently is a trend in certain areas of the world to excessively long necks.
The longer the neck, the longer the vertebrae and the separations. A giraffe has seven neck vertebrae as does a dog. The giraffe's neck is not strong. He has a very small head by necessity. He could not hold up a large head. He does not usually eat from the ground. He only needs to be able to feed and eat the leaves from the highest of branches in the trees. Put that neck on an Afghan Hound? A neck most certainly can be too long.
Think of a person with size 14 feet and 5 feet nine inches tall, they have to adjust to go up and down stairs.
Think of an Afghan Hound whose prey is 16 inches tall running across and up and down ravines and zigzagging. Now think of that Afghan Hound trying to grab its prey on a dead run. It has to make balance adjustments. Those adjustments are required especially if the dog is out of balance such as having too long a neck.
I disagree that a neck can't be too long if it is strong. It is possible to have a strong neck on an Afghan Hound but that it is too long to do his job properly. He has to make adjustments for the extra length in order to properly function.
Breed specific cases can be made for each breed – yes, the neck can have excessive length.