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.