About Dog Registries and
by Leilah's Mom
Basset Hound puppies, AKC, wormed
& shots, 5 male. 4 females, adorable (XXX) XXX-XXXX
Reg. Border Collie Pups CKC 1 wht
male, 2 blk/wht females 9wks old, shots, wormed $250ea (XXX)XXX-XXXX
Cairn AKC Pups Sweet playful healthy
Toy Fox Terrier puppies UKC reg
AKC Golden Retriever Pups. $300.
These 5 ads, copied here
in their entirety, were picked at random from the Dallas
Morning News, 4/26/00. I've put the registry abbreviations in bold
type: AKC is American Kennel Club, UKC is United Kennel Club or Universal
Kennel Club, and CKC can be either the Continental Kennel Club or Canadian
Kennel Club. This being advertised in Dallas, I'll guess it's probably
Continental Kennel Club. See below for more info
about particular kennel clubs
In Webster's Dictionary, registration means
a record is made of something. Few people would think a car good just because
it's registered. Most people would shop for a type of vehicle that would
suit them, is in safe condition, and sells for good price. Just that
the car is registered is NOT usually a main selling point.
So why are these dog registry abbreviations
in these dog ads used as a main selling point? Breeders who don't know
better, or are just plain irresponsible, often think it's a license to
breed their dogs. Puppy buyers often think they're getting something special
when they're not, and they can pay a high price for it. There are many
unscrupulous or ignorant breeders out there ready to fill their own wallets.
Unlike cars where there is usually only one registry per state, there are
many registries for dogs, and it can be pretty confusing. AKC is
the largest and most well known, but they are not alone out there. Some
registries are better than others, as I hope to explain here.
What is a registry?
First and foremost, dog registries keep
records about dogs. A registry will record information such as the dog's
name, breed, color, who owns him. They will track this information
with a registration number. These records usually also include a
pedigree, and any titles earned by any of the dogs involved. Sometimes
it now includes DNA profiles. These records are sometimes collectively
known as a dog's "papers".
There are multi-breed registries such as
the AKC, and single breed registries such as ASCA (the Australian Shepherd
Club of America). Most registries started for one breed, or group of dogs.
Over 100 years ago, AKC started for sporting dogs. ASCA still registers
only Australian Shepherds, but allows all dogs to compete in their trials.
There are still many one-breed clubs that are quite reputable. Some
multi-breed clubs are one-breed clubs in disguise, they have started because
they want to promote a single breed. This "breed" is often a mix, then
these registries "recognize" all the other breeds. You can often detect
this by being at least a bit familiar with breed names, and checking out
any unfamiliar breeds on their "recognized breeds" lists. The more
reputable one-breed clubs have formed in order to prove dogs in trials
and improve the breed (a better Jack Russell Terrier, or a better Border
Collie), and not just to make money selling dogs.
There are some registries such as AMBOR
(American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry), which do not register dogs for
breeding purposes at all - a dog must be spayed or neutered - but only
record trial results and titles only. Some registries have formed
to cater to a specific special interest group, such as a commercial breeder's
association, or a pet store chain. Good registries also have programs and
information available to help dogs have better lives. While all are private
corporations, the better ones are usually not for profit.
What types of registrations are there?
There are often different types of registrations
available with some registries. Litter registration is a temporary record,
to be later replaced by a full or limited registration. For a full registration,
the registry will keep records of this dog's pups, and this dog's pups
can be registered too.
A dog with a limited registration is not
supposed to breed, and the registry will not register pups from this dog.
This means that pups can not be registered if either of their parents have
a limited registration. An AKC limited registration can be converted
to a full registration if the breeder allows it. Many wonderful dogs
are now being sold on limited registrations. This helps protect the quality
of family lines, and helps prevent "substandard" dogs, or dogs who end
up with less than responsible owners, from being bred. A breeder can refuse
to convert the limited registration to a full registration if they don't
feel the dog or the situation is a good one for his breeding program. This
in NO way means there's one thing wrong with the dog or owner, it's just
a safeguard against possible future problems and the limitation is reversible.
There are also other limited registrations where the dog must be spayed
or neutered, and this provides a way for owners of dogs with unknown pedigrees
to compete with their dogs.
What is a pedigree?
A pedigree is a record of a dog's ancestors.
If all of the ancestors are of the same breed, then the dog is considered
purebred. If the dog's ancestors are not all of the same breed, that
dog still has ancestors that can be recorded and a pedigree can still be
written up. But, this dog would not be purebred, even though he's now got
a pedigree. Having a pedigree only means a dog's ancestors are known,
not that the dog is purebred. Some breeders count on people not realizing
this, and sell mutts as if they were purebreds, saying they are "pedigreed".
What is a title?
In some pedigrees, you will see dogs with
titles - letters before and after a dog's name. These can mean a lot or
a little, depending on what the titles are for, and how far back or forward
they are in a pedigree. Usually the one you see most often is CH
in front of a dog's name. This means the dog attained champion status
in the conformation ring - he has been judged to look like a good example
of what his breed should be, according to that breed's standard (the
official description of the breed). You may also see other letters before
or after the dog's name, these are usually working titles. These
dogs have been judged in trials to have certain skills, such as hunting,
herding, or obedience.
One warning about what titles do not mean:
The conformation champion dog (CH) has been judged multiple times on for
his looks and motion trotting around a ring only. This does not mean he
has a good temperament, or is free from genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia,
luxated patellas (bad knees) or heart and thyroid disorders. This is generally
true of any title, though working titles do address temperament more than
conformation titles, and a dysplastic dog is not very likely to become
a agility or lure-coursing champion. This is why research into general
breed traits, breeders, and health screenings of any breeding dog are so
What's a Kennel Club?
For the most part, Kennel Clubs are registries.
The terms are often used interchangeably. There are also local dog
clubs also called kennel clubs, who are not registries. These clubs
are usually affiliated with one of the registries, and are the groups that
put on dog shows and trials. One example of this is the Westminster
Kennel Club, who is affliated with the AKC.
So, if all a registry does is record
information, why are there so many? What's the difference?
Some registries are stricter than others
as to what dogs they will register, and some promote the welfare of dogs
better than others. Some registries seem out for a fast buck from
ignorant puppy buyers and breeders. They will register dogs for breeders
who have been suspended from other registries (usually for record keeping
violations), or will register dogs that other registries won't. Some breeders
work with multiple registries, and even charge differently for pups depending
on which registry the pup is recorded with. There is no honest reason
for this that I can think of. These lesser quality registries are sometimes
referred to as paper mills for puppy mills.
At the very least, you should be able to
expect that a registered dog is the breed he's supposed to be, and of the
parents and ancestors he's supposed to be. Unfortunately, this
isn't always true, and the information can be inaccurate or misleading
if the breeder is not responsible. For instance, there have been
enough problems with inaccurate or falsified pedigrees that the AKC now
requires DNA testing on some dogs. United Kennel Club has been promoting
DNA testing for several years. But all registries will still usually just
take a breeder's word that a pedigree is accurate, and this sometimes leads
to inaccurate or fraudulent papers on a dog. Good registries will take
action for inaccurate records, such as fines or suspension.
Some registries will allow the registration
of designer mutts, sometimes called "new rare breeds", for breeding purposes.
Puppy buyers are sometimes fooled into paying pay hundreds of dollars for
a "registered" mutt. Being a registered mutt does not make a dog any different
from a similar one sitting in a shelter, and it certainly does not turn
a mutt into a purebred. Any registration can often cause the price of a
mutt to skyrocket, when the paper it's printed on may only be worth using
The better kennel clubs have gone beyond
their original recording function, and will also provide means to show
and trial dogs, promote education, health, and the general welfare of dogs.
I strongly feel that some dog registries are not in the best interest of
the dogs involved. They often make it much easier for irresponsible breeders
to sell their puppies. This leads to thousands of dogs being killed annually
in shelters, or suffering from preventable genetic problems. None
are saints, but some kennel clubs are worse than others. Puppy millers
and other irresponsible or ignorant breeders count on registration as a
selling point. Even the AKC makes millions from registering these puppies.
(My own dogs are registered with AMBOR, United Kennel Club, and AKC, all
are limited registrations for trialing purposes only, not for breeding).
Irresponsible breeders take full advantage of the public perception that
registration means more than it really does. Only the public's education
can change this.
Soon, you may start seeing more dogs from
registries other than AKC in pet stores. I know the Missouri and
Oklahoma commercial dog breeder's association members are unhappy now that
AKC's got stricter rules, and is requiring a DNA profile in stud dogs that
produce 7 or more litters in a lifetime. Many of these breeders are
breaking away from AKC and now registering their pups (often found for
sale in pet shops nationwide) with other, less restrictive, registries.
Regardless of where you get your pup, if your pup is registered with anything
other than AKC or United Kennel Club, the chances of your pup being bred
by an irresponsible breeder rises dramatically. It's up to you, the potential
puppy buyer, to educate yourself and to avoid being part of the puppy mill/
backyard breeder problem. Do not put your money into the pockets of irresponsible
breeders under any circumstances. The only thing they'll feel is
getting hit in the wallet.
You can do much of your homework on the
internet. If a kennel club is not on the internet (those are few), you
can usually at least find an address on the internet and write them for
information. Avoid any kennel club on which you can't get any information
Please be aware of what you are really
getting when you buy a registered dog. As you can see, registration often
means nothing or worse. But if a pup is backed up by a good pedigree, health
screened parents, and a caring, honest, and responsible breeder who takes
pride in the pups he produces, then you can also take pride in what your
dog's papers represent!
|Some of the things I look for when looking
at a registry/kennel club site:
Encouragement of health testing (beyond just
a vet check), screening for genetic defects (such as OFA, CERF, etc..),
and DNA profiling for breeding stock
Different levels of registrations available,
such as various limited registrations.
That every breed have a standard, a "parent"
breed club who sets that standard, and that the club consists of
more than a couple of breeders
Encouragement of spay and neuter for mix breeds
and purebreds who do not meet their breed or working standards
That breeders be encouraged to prove their
dogs meets their standards in the conformation or trial ring
That the kennel club has or sponsors shows
and trials where the dog's qualities can be proven, for all breeds.
That breeders are encouraged to carefully
plan breedings, sell pups to only carefully checked and appropriate homes,
and participate in rescuing at least dogs of their own breeding and breed
Has a code of ethics, or encourages breeders
to join breed clubs that have a code of ethics
Emphasizes improving the breeds, not just
The atmosphere is about the welfare and enjoyment
of dogs, not classified ads and money.
Flags!!!!! Be careful of kennel club/registry sites that
Recognizing mixed breeds (such as Cockapoo)
for breeding purposes
Been founded around a single new breed that
someone has recently "created", often not even set in breed type or has
vague standards - that can mean the breed isn't "breeding true".
No competitions to prove the dogs' qualities
(or links to competition pages that go nowhere and the site is not very
No suggestion or education about OFA type
health testing/screening, and none or very few of the breeders seem
to know what it is.
No limited registrations available.
Advertising sections for breeders, and most
ads don't mention health clearances beyond a vet check if at all.
Listing private breeders as "breed clubs",
or breed clubs are composed of a very small group of just a few breeders.
Breed standards missing or have very, very
broad descriptions - can cover up the fact that the dogs are really mutts.
Multiple breed standards recognized by single registry, for a single breed,
can cover up lots of problems too.
Clubs that have same or similar initials to
more reputable clubs (to confuse people who haven't done their homework).
UKC can be United Kennel Club or Universal Kennel Club, CKC can be Canadian
Kennel Club or Continental Kennel Club, FIC can easily be confused with
Supported mainly by a pet store, pet store
chain, or other special interest groups who's interest may not be the welfare
of dogs, but the welfare of their wallets.
Clubs and registries who have emphasis on
what the registration certificate looks like ("includes a gold
seal for only $5 more")
* notes links not working at last update
Kennel Club links
does AKC Registration Really Mean?
on World Kennel Club *
and Finding a Responsible Breeder, and more....
Guide to Classified Ads
Magazine: A Terrible Beauty
Ado About Poo
DNA Frequently Asked Questions
Titles and Abbreviations
Foundation for Animals (OFA)
- an example of genetic
heath screen certifications that responsible breeders use
- a example of a "new rare
breed" that really isn't, there's lots of "breeds" like this out there.
- a typical pet store with
typical pet store pups, not to be confused with IKC of Chicago, an AKC
affiliate. Many celebrity clients, and promoted by Rosie O'Donnell on her
national TV show. For more info on pet shop pups, click
here. If you want to tell Rosie what you think, click
- satire about the "new
rare breeds", this is actually Leilah the Wonderpuppy, and she's a mutt.
- satire about the paper
Common Multi-breed Kennel Clubs:
(All comments are the personal opinions
of this author)
AKC - American
Kennel Club - the granddaddy of them all in the U.S. Offers the most
breeder/owner information of any kennel club, and has the furthest reach
with the general public. Lots of good information on this site, though
I wish they could come down harder on irresponsible breeders. Their recent
DNA requirements are a big step in the right direction.
- United Kennel Club - pioneer in DNA testing to verify pedigrees.
Has a club wide code of ethics, printed on every registration form, that
helps discourage retail sale of pups, as well as other pro-dog rules and
guidelines. In my opinion, this is the #1 kennel club/registry for
operating in the best interest of dogs (but I might be biased, they are
also the first registry I had a dog registered with).
- Universal Kennel Club - emphasis on classifieds and rat terriers,
lots of self advertising. Promotes a regular vet exam as if this were the
same as genetic health screens (it's NOT). Because of lawsuits with the
other UKC, they are now trying to use the initials UKI for Universal Kennel
Club International. Gotta wonder about a registery that has a "Doggie Love
Connection" section for shopping for stud services.
CKC - Canadian
Kennel Club - Canadian AKC equivalent.
- Continental Kennel Club - an "open" registry. Will register
mixed breeds for the purpose of breeding them. Will recognize more than
one standard per breed. Lots of self advertising and breeder advertising.
- World Kennel Club - Classifieds message board here is infamous in
some internet dog circles. Run by a single person. No listing of recognized
- Federation Cynologique Internationale - the kennel club for the rest
of the world - not a dog registry, but an organization that keeps breed
standards and related records for national kennel clubs in other countries.
- Federation of International Canines - Most ads have no health screens
mentioned. Half the pages are selling something, no real useful info for
breeders and owners.
American Rare Breeds Association - recognizes rare breeds (usually
foreign breeds) that are recognized by FCI, but not usually recognized
by AKC. Also rare American breeds that have standards and parent clubs
as approved by their board of directors. They are the main source of competitions
for these dogs.
Mom who's no breeder and never paid one red cent to buy a dog, but just
hangs out on the 'net a lot and learns what she can.
All rights Reserved
Last updated 5/10/04