An Essay on Afghan Gait Click Here
Set monitor to 1024x 756 for best viewing ( Dosen't this Photo remind you of a Giacometti Sculpting?)
the appropriate combination of words to adequately define the Afghan Hound trot
is both challenging and difficult. This is compounded
by the uniqueness of this breed's structural evolution and the contradictions to conventional canine structure and locomotion.
In order to denote the diverse and considerable differences in the structure of the Afghan.
I will use the Saluki; a desert dog and close relation. The Saluki standard employs the word "Moderate or Moderation" no less than 8 times, (UK Standard).
Being a desert dog, nature has evolved this breed around efficiency of gait and speed, with moderate angles and lengths of limb. The Term "efficiency of gait" could be
described "the maximum distance traversed with the minimum effort and expenditure of energy", in other words the fore and aft limbs working in perfect harmony
with each other and the assemblies using equal reach and drive with little or no excess or superfluous exaggerations of gait.
(Currently many show ring Salukis are bred to a level of exaggeration which would do most Afghans proud.)
The Afghan Standard, unlike the Saluki Standard, requires skeletal structures which are "long, angular and with great length", (a square hound with long angular limbs).
It doesn't define body length. If we return to the original imports and reference them against current Afghan Hounds from Afghanistan and we analyse and measure the balance,
we find those dogs have changed little from the original Bell Murray dogs of 85 odd years ago. From this we conclude the Afghan should be square. (as long as is high).
UK Standard defines gait "as smooth and springy with a style of high order".
The FCI uses the same words. The American standard follows
"When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in this smooth, powerful stride.
When on a loose lead the Afghan can trot at a fast pace; stepping along, he has the appearance of placing the hind feet directly in the
foot prints of the front feet, both thrown straight ahead. Moving with head and tail high, the whole appearance of the Afghan Hound is one of great style and beauty."
The Canadian Standard maintains "When running free, the Afghan Hound moves at a gallop, showing great elasticity and spring in his smooth, powerful stride".
As we can see little has been captured in words to adequately give explanation to the Afghan Trot and variations therein..
The key to understanding the Afghan trot is in appreciating the apparent paradox nature has created. It's like the proverbial bumble bee,
whom we are told defies the laws of aerodynamics and shouldn't be able to fly, as the story goes, some one forgot to tell the bumble bee.
A similar analogy can be drawn with the Afghan, here we have a hound, a creature living in the most inhospitable surrounds, where survival is at a premium,
and nature takes it time to evolve an animal full of exaggeration and bordering upon the extreme then endows this hound with so many unique qualities and features,
as to make this hybrid canine a virtual contradiction in terms.
orthodox trot, is a natural gait, and employed by conformation judges as the
most appropriate gait to measure overall balance of each exhibit,
so why is the Afghan different? Evolution naturally evolves a high degree of efficiency on the form and function of each breed. In the case of the Afghan,
Its evolutionary path has demanded that it have an exceptional degree of agility with the ability to traverse adverse forms of rough terrain at high speed
to provide for its survival, these unique characteristics are abundantly clear when compared with the Saluki. The Afghan feet are unusually large,
the pasterns are long and sloping, the humurus is long and well tucked under, the scapular is not as well laid and has a greater degree of pivotal latitude,
the whole forequarter assembly is designed for high speed shock absorption, more so than any other breed. The whole hindquarter is equally unique,
the pelvic girdle is steep with the pins bones prominent, the tail set is flat and set on low, the limbs have great length, and with good angulation,
the hock is set on low, and designed to complement the forequarter. The Afghans structure is different, and the trot more exaggerated due to its inherent
terrain covering capacity. Even when the Afghan is galloping the lift from the pastern and humurus in conjunction with the more centrally located centre of gravity,
is appreciably greater when compared to other galloping hounds.
Afghan trot is equally unique due to the need to effectively coordinate its
over abundance of angularity and lengths. Nature has evolved a style of gait
which has been coined the "Reconnaissance Trot". The head is carried high as the hound rises to the trot, there is the impression of a smooth springy gait
or a floating gait, with effortless reach and drive. What leaves a lasting impression is the cadence of this gait when performed by a well balanced Afghan.
The cadence (symmetry) is where the trot is of moderate speed and the reach and drive finalise each stride simultaneously and there appears to be a momentary
pause before the outreached limbs gather for the next stride. At this point of the stride the dog is at its highest elevation, the elevation now recedes as the
legs gather up for the next stride. Note how the elevation has a smooth springy impression and how the limbs are straight at the fullest extension (no bend at the elbow).
Also note the squareness of the dog and his ground covering capacity relative to his length. The other important point is the centre of gravity, notice how on this
hound the thoracic cavity and topline is propelled up by the strength of the pasterns before the rear quarters propel the hound, allowing the rear legs
to pass the fore legs foot prints, and perform the classic flying trot, this requires truly remarkable coordination.
These graphics are of 9 year old Afghan NZ Ch Eros of Juwain **
|The flying trot requires exacting coordination. This is like all
movement is governed by the cerebellum.
The cerebellum (a small organ located at the base of the skull) is responsible for controlling the myriad of several hundreds of muscles*,
required to either contract or relax simultaneously in a precise sequence of events in order to maintain efficient gait and also provides the ability to negotiate
and traverse all forms of rough terrain. Little is known of this most complex and amazing organ and the importance its inheritablitly has to play,
other than to say nature has adapted the cerebellum to suit the Afghans extravagances, rendering a unique style of trot in the process.
In Afghans, the trot velocity increases to a point where symmetry fails and the gait begins to falter. Crabbing or side stepping occurs unless
the hound has been endowed with virtuous coordination with which only a small percentage of Afghans are blessed. These Afghans are
able to perpetrate "the flying trot". ( This gait is generally the reserve of the GSD*** longer body to height ratio).
Symmetry of gait this where one measures the angles of furthest extension. To establish symmetry, draw a plumb line from the foot
through the hock, the knee to the acetabulum, and a complementary line be drawn from the front foot through the pastern the elbow and through
the midline of the scapula. These two angles from the horizontal plain should be equal and a momentary straight column. These angles will indicate the degree of symmetry.
Integral to the ability to gait in these renowned manners, are several factors which if deficient will greatly impact upon the
hounds performance: Temperament, intelligence, health, fitness and balance. Together these factors make for a memorable gaiting
Afghan Hound and a joy to behold. These aspects are essays within themselves and better served by others.
Afghan Hound is a natural breed evolving through symbiotic circumstance with
Bedouins and Afghanistani tribes in middle Asia and surrounding countries.
I believe we have a cultural obligation to maintain the preservation of this magnificent hound. One only has to consider any
man made breed to appreciate their impoverished genetic disposition.
I hope that the photo's posted will obviate many discussions on structure and anatomy, for they challenge many
of the conventions of popular understanding. These photos are the property of Mr. Wahab Kamal from the Wardak providence,
about 70 miles SW of Kabul. They are of his hounds and others in his surrounds. Consider them carefully they are working Hounds
and they should make many conscientious breeders and enthusiasts reconsider their perceptions.
Imagine the impact of importing 3 Afghan Hounds to revitalise, the western Afghan Hounds? potentially coming to some reciprocal arrangements. ??
Oscar Wilde noted "Nothing succeeds like excess" I wonder if he ever saw an Afghan?
Photos provided by Mr Wahab Kamal of Afghanistan
** NZ Ch. Eros of Juwain is predominately early Australian lines which were originally imported from the UK. He is heavily line bred.
Eros was a youthful
nine and a half year old dog when this video was taken, Eros had a wonderful
zest for life. A pure joy to behold.
These lines are now rare in Australia..
*** The GSD flying trot is when the dogs velocity achieves sufficient
momentum that the rear leg steps past the front foot print during each
stride, (it is also defined as the only trot where all feet are momentarily off the ground) the Afghan flying trot employs the same basic actions
with the pastern
flicking backwards and up, moving the front foot out of the way of the oncoming
rear foot at an accelerated rate.
Flowing foot coat and speed hinders viewing what is really happening. The rear foot print relative location to the front foot print is determined
by the degree of balance and coordination of each individual hound, show ring Afghans are normally traversing the in a circle accordingly there
would be a natural inclination for the rear end to drift slightly. A full explanation of what is happening during the Afghan flying trot is not well
documented or fully understood, this will not be defined until two actions are undertaken. 1: someone records this form of gait with a high
speed digital video. 2 : Afghans with exceptional coordination and balance be employed to measure these actions. There is little value using
all so rans to measure virtue or measure the full potential of Afghan coordination. In Australia we have one and sometimes two such gifted
Afghans present each decade, now we are in the new millennium I am awaiting for the first to trot into the ring?
All photos are the property of Mr Wahab Kamal from the Wardak providence about 70 miles SW of Kabul.
I appreciate many will have problems when I noted there was a symbiotic relationship with bedouins etc. and Afghan hound. Afghanistan of yesteryear
was made up of many cultures some hostile to canines, others not, some who cherish their relationships with "canine familaris".
There are many breeds some ferral in and around the countries of afghanistan, displaying many of the Afghan phenotipic characteristics to varying degrees.
If one examines primitive peoples of the world, each of these societies developed relationships with local canine breeds. I stand by my statement
that nature has produced a truly remarkable species in the Afghan Hound. The Afghan Hound breed is a survivor and employs humanity and likewise...
Terrence Wilcox Alaqadar Afghans
Cherish the Differences "Mendel"
Any person wishing to copy or use the
Photographs of the native Afghans Hounds are required
to seek permission from "firstname.lastname@example.org" as they are fully protected by copyright
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