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What does "AKC" really mean?


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"There is a widely held belief that "AKC" or "AKC papers" and quality are one and the same. This is not the case. AKC is a registry body. A registration certificate identifies the dog as the offspring of a known sire and dam, born on a known date. It in no way indicates the quality or state of health of the dog."  - from the AKC website.  Click here for full text.

| What is the AKC | What does the AKC do | What does the AKC not do |

What is the AKC?

Their main purpose is to maintain the "stud books" for each breed that they recognize and do what they can to ensure the integrity of these records. The "stud book" is a database of registered dogs and their offspring.


What does the AKC do?

The AKC registers purebred dogs. When a litter of puppies is born, the breeder sends a form into the AKC to register the litter. If both parents are in the AKC database, the AKC assigns registration numbers and issues "blue slips" for the number of puppies that the breeder states are in the litter. A "blue slip" is a registration form for an individual dog. The blue slip lists the sire and dam of the litter, the date the litter was born and the breeder’s name and address. Although the slips have an individual registration number on them, a dog is not registered until this blue slip is sent in by the new owner (or breeder if they keep the puppy) with the applicable fee. A very small percentage of eligible dogs are ever actually registered with the AKC. The AKC does not verify the number of puppies in the litter nor do they ever see the puppies (unless they are performing a kennel inspection). The accuracy of the items on the blue slip (sire, dam, and date of birth) are solely dependent on the breeder’s integrity.

In an effort to maintain the integrity of their database, random inspections are performed by AKC personnel, to ensure that breeders are adhering to the regulations regarding paperwork and identification of dogs and to ensure that the dogs are receiving proper care. These inspections are primarily done on kennels that produce larger numbers of litters.

The AKC sanctions dog shows and performance events. They record the results of these events and issue Certificates to the dog owners when the requirements for a title are met.

The AKC promotes responsible dog ownership and education. This is done through public service announcements, various information pamphlets, and their website.

The AKC contributes to health research. They have established the Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF), which issues grants for research to benefit dogs. The funds for these grants come from individuals, clubs, and corporations, as well as the AKC.


What does the AKC not do?

The AKC does not register or certify breeders. Anyone, who owns an AKC registered bitch and breeds it to an AKC registered dog, can register the litter with the AKC. The AKC does, however, reserve the right to suspend a breeder’s registration privileges, either temporarily or indefinitely. These suspensions are levied on breeders who do not maintain the accurate paperwork, falsify paperwork, refuse to allow the AKC to perform an inspection, or those that have been convicted in Court of animal cruelty or animal abuse. The AKC does not have any legal authority to take possession of dogs, prevent someone from breeding dogs, or take any legal action for a breeder’s failure to abide by their regulations. The only authority they have is to revoke a breeder’s registration privileges, meaning that dogs owned by that person are not eligible for registration with the AKC. The AKC will also impose fines and/or suspend individuals for improper conduct at sanctioned events.

The AKC does not guarantee the accuracy of the information on a dog’s "blue slip". The breeder, on the honor system, supplies this information to the AKC. The AKC is currently using DNA testing during it’s inspections to verify the parentage of dogs on the premises, but this is only done on a very small percentage of breeders. Breeders can have a DNA profile performed on their dogs and have this information included in the AKC database, but this is not an AKC requirement.

The AKC does not guarantee the quality of any dog. When a dog is eligible for AKC registration, all that means is that the breeder is in good standing with the AKC and both the sire and the dam (as recorded by the breeder) are registered with the AKC. Blind dogs, deaf dogs, and dogs with physical deformities are every bit as eligible for registration as top show dogs.

  1999 Susan Sparks. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced without permission.

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