By Linda Cole
The American Kennel Club (AKC) was established on September 17, 1884, with the adoption of a constitution and by-laws. One delegate from each of the 12 active dog clubs that had recently held a bench dog show or field trials, met in Philadelphia to discuss forming a sort of “club of clubs.” The National American Kennel Club had already been established in 1876. With a need for a reliable stud book in the U.S., the AKC combined their records with The National American Kennel Club’s Stud Book, which was published in 1878 for a complete and thorough record of a dog’s pedigree (male and female) for all registered purebred dogs in America. Westminster Kennel Club was the first dog club to join the AKC and is the only remaining member of the original 12 dog clubs that established the club. The AKC has been responsible for maintaining written documentation of purebred dogs in this country ever since; however, the AKC does more than just keep records.
The American Kennel Club is a nonprofit organization with the largest registry of purebred dogs in the world, and is responsible for the rules and regulations for more than 20,000 AKC-sponsored events every year. The Westminster Dog Show is one of the AKC’s more famous events, but they also oversee events in other conformation dog shows, rally, lure coursing, hunting tests, field trials, agility, herding, tracking, obedience, coonhound events, and earthdog tests. The AKC’s mission is to be an advocate for purebred dogs as family companions, to advance dog health, to be a champion for the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership. The AKC is responsible for the integrity of the Stud Book, and promotes dog sports and dog breeding to make sure breed standards are maintained.
The AKC does not certify breeders or have the authority to shut a kennel down for non compliance of their rules or refusing to let AKC inspect their kennel. “AKC-registered” doesn’t mean the puppies or dogs are of a higher quality than dogs not registered. It only means the dog’s parentage has been recorded. Random inspections of breeders are done yearly by the American Kennel Club to make sure the dogs are receiving proper care and have acceptable living conditions, and to ascertain that breeders are keeping accurate records.
The AKC Canine Good Citizen Program was started in 1989 to promote responsible pet ownership and give dogs with good manners their just rewards. The purpose of the program is to help people understand that even in the home, a well mannered dog who gets along with other dogs and people is much easier to live with.
AKC CAR. Since 1995, the Companion Animal Recovery has been providing microchips at an affordable cost to pet owners for protection if their pets ever become lost or stolen. Proceeds from the sale of the microchips go to support scholarships for Veterinary school, canine support, disaster relief and other causes.
DNA testing. Field agents from AKC’s Investigations and Inspections Department take DNA samples from randomly selected breeders during an inspection of their facilities. The agents use a swab to swipe the inside of the dog’s cheek. The testing helps the AKC verify that information provided by the breeder is accurate and the pedigree of the puppies has been correctly documented. DNA tests are required under AKC’s Frequently Used Sires requirement for any dog that is listed as the father in seven or more litters in his lifetime or is documented as the father of more than three litters in a year. The American Kennel Club has the largest database of DNA profiles of dogs in the world.
AKC Canine Partners Program. In 2009, the AKC began allowing owners of mixed breed dogs to register their pet with them. After the dog has been registered, he/she is then eligible to participate in AKC-sponsored events around the country in obedience, agility and rally trials.
The American Kennel Club was started by a group of men who were passionate about their dogs and enjoyed the sport of hunting. Throughout the history of the AKC, this organization has been a strong and dedicated advocate for purebred dogs and for their continued good health through responsible breeding. The goal of the American Kennel Club has always been to register and maintain an accurate lineage of all purebred dogs for excellence in all of the breeds we know and love.
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