American Kennel Club: History, Membership and Events

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    The AKC is the largest purebred dog registry in existence in the United States. This organization maintains the standards and registries of many dog breeds and promotes responsible dog ownership. The AKC also develops and enforces the rules and regulations governing dog shows, obedience trials, tracking tests, field trials, hunting tests, agility trials and several other informal events.

    History of the American Kennel Club

    On September 17, 1884, a group of twelve sportsmen met in Philadelphia as delegates to form the American kennel Club, the new “Club of Clubs”. Each member of the group was a representative or “delegate” from a dog club that had, in the recent past, held a benched dog show or had run field trials. Major James M. Taylor became the first President. About 1888 a reliable stud book was in place. In 1929, the first edition of Pure Bred dogs was published. Nine years later the book was renamed The Complete Dog Book. AKC publishes and regularly updates the Complete Dog Book which includes all of the standards for all of the breeds recognized by their registry. The 1930s brought about the formation of the Professional Handlers Association, and the first book of AKC rules was issued. Obedience testing was also started roughly this time.1,4

    During the War years of the 1940s, dog shows, obedience trials and field trials continued in the United States, although they were temporarily halted in Europe). The 1990s brought the start of the Herding test and Lure Coursing. Four years later, Agility joined the activities. In 1995 the Canine Good citizen was established. By 1998 about 2 million dogs were competing in licensed and sanctioned events.4

    The American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded, according to its charter, to promote specific breeds, sponsor shows, and “to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purity of thoroughbred dogs.” Many critics have questioned whether the AKC has fulfilled these promises. Whatever deserving faults and shortcomings, without the organized international efforts of dog fanciers and organizations like the AKC, a great many currently well-established and flourishing breeds might have otherwise gone extinct over the past century.3

    The United Kennel Club (UKC) is the second breed registry in the United States. Although it is smaller than AKC, UKC recognizes and maintains a registry for purebred breeds and also sanctions dog shows and working dog events.1

    AKC Membership

    AKC membership is available to various types of dog clubs, not to individual dog owners, breeders, or exhibitors. The voting power of each member club is appropriated through elected delegates, who meet regularly and are responsible for electing the Board of Directors. The AKC was established for amateurs, therefore professional judges, trainers, and handlers are not eligible to be delegates.5

    Maintenance of Stud Books

    AKC maintains the stud book for all of its accepted breeds. A stud book refers to a record of any animal breeding program. The very first dog that was registered in the American Kennel Club stud Book was an English Setter named “Adonis.” Today, publication in the Stud Book Register means that the dog has been used for breeding.1

    Dog Breed Groups

    The American Kennel Club currently divides its recognized breeds into seven groups: Sporting Dogs, Hounds, Working Dogs, Toys, Herding Dogs, and Non-Sporting Dogs. This division is loosely based on modern uses for the breeds. Breeds within each of these groupings have established breed standards that are maintained by the AKC.1

    Types of Registration

    The AKC offers two types of registration: full and limited.

    Full registration places no restrictions on the owner.

    Limited registration means that any offspring of the dog are ineligible for registration with the AKC.

    Limited registrations may be changed to full registrations, and only the breeder can make the change. Breeders use limited registration to help prevent faults from being passed on. A contract may require the buyer to spay or neuter, but if the buyer breeds the dog instead, the buyer can’t register the puppies.2

    How to Register a Dog with the AKC

    Video Credits: Howcast

    Registered vs Non-Registered Dogs

    Video Credits: CT’s touch horses/dogs


    1. Linda P. Case – The Dog: Its Behavior, Nutrition, And Health
    2. Susan M. Ewing – Poodles For Dummies
    3. Steven R. Lindsay, George Edward Burrows – Handbook Of Applied Dog Behavior And Training: Adaptation And Learning
    4. M. Ed J. C. Judah – An Ancient History Of Dogs: Spaniels Through The Ages


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