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Puppy Registration Papers, like a car title, can signify quality or junk, depending on the breeder and the Registry.


December 2008 | TheDogPress Club News

David Arthur, UKC Conformation Judge


David ArthurOwning a purebred dog implies opulence and elegance, much the same as a Lexis sedan or a Rolex watch. However, in truth, while a dog’s lineage may be pure, its quality and conformity to the breed standard can be questionable.


The show ring is one of the best ways to test excellence, and in order to earn a championship, a dog must conform as closely as possible to their respective breed standard. But even show ring titles are no guarantee concerning health issues. Breeders often use “papers” as a marketing tool to give the impression of excellence. Many times, this is true. However in the vast majority of cases, “registered” only means a puppy is of a specific breed, but not necessarily the best representative.


Conversely, not being registered does not automatically mean a dog is not a purebred. Some breeders will purposely withhold papers on puppies they don’t feel are of sound enough quality to reproduce. This practice is often met with suspicion within the sport.


Papers mean that the breeder has done the basic paperwork,” said Esther Underkofler of Minarets Poodles. “Breeders who can't be bothered with that probably aren't going to be doing the testing, training, and exhibiting that is necessary to produce a line of healthy animals.


While registration is vital in proving the pup’s genetic purity, it also fills another essential purpose by indicating the family tree. Armed with greater genetic knowledge, breeders today are able to use numerous tests to identify and avoid many diseases.


Marsha Nelson, the owner of Miss Diva, a black Standard Poodle stated, “Because of having her papers, I was able to register her with the Poodle Health Registry when it was discovered that she has genetic chronic active hepatitis.” By entering her into the database, other breeders who may be considering Miss Diva’s line are able to avoid breeding back on this genetic disease.


So there are plenty of benefits for both purchasing from registered litters, as well as submitting that registration paperwork once you have obtained your new puppy. Not all registries are equal. There are basically only two generally recognized all-breed registries in the United States; the American Kennel Club (AKC), and the United Kennel Club (UKC). Both are over 100 years old, with longstanding studbooks to prove the purity of the dogs registered with them.


In order to register a dog with AKC or UKC, the owner must submit either the litter registration certificate given them by their puppy’s breeder or by presenting a valid registration from another recognized registry, such as the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) or The Kennel Club (England).


The problem today is that there are numerous pseudo-registries such as the American Canine Association (ACA), National Pet Registry (NPR), American Pet Registry (APR), or Continental Kennel Club (CKCI) and all will give you a certificate stating that your dog is “registered”. But within the purebred dog fancy, they are seen as counterfeit.


APRI, CKCI, ACA, etc. papers aren't worth using as piddle pads, in my opinion,” says Dott Smith, a show breeder and exhibitor. “They are pet registries for high volume and small backyard breeder operations who can't or won't use the AKC.”


Most of these organizations grew with the internet, and though they claim to offer reputable services, their acceptance requirements do not meet the high standards quality breeders require. Beyond taking the word of the owner, and a few submitted pictures, they do not call for absolute proof of purity, leaving the lineage of the dogs they accept in question.


For example, the North American Purebred Dog Registry even states on their website, “A purebred dog that does not have registration papers can be registered with the NAPDR. If you are 100% sure of your dog's breed, fill out the information you know and write ‘Unknown’ on the other places.”


Nearly all of these organizations will even register mixed breeds, such as “puggles” – a Pug and Beagle mix – or “labradoodles” – a cross between a Poodle and a Labrador Retriever. Neither the AKC nor the UKC will accept mixed breeds for registration.


The title “champion” can also be deceiving. Many of these same registries hold dog shows and other events in order to lend credence to their practice. However, because the dogs they register are generally not of the same quality as those competing within AKC or UKC, the titles earned are, in a sense, meaningless.


Breeding dogs registered with one of the pet registries can create serious problems for the resulting puppies. Not only is their genetic health at stake, but also the guarantee of purity and conformance to a breed standard. When you go to purchase a Cocker Spaniel, you want to be completely sure you’re getting a Cocker, and not just something that sort of looks like one.


So how does the wise buyer avoid these pitfalls when seeking a new pet? Dog enthusiast June Brumm advises, “The point is to know all possible when deciding on a puppy's quality. Seeing the dam – and hopefully the stud – having proof of pre-natal testing and knowing as much as possible about the breeder’s ethics are all critical parts when making a decision. It takes time and patience and self control to consider all of them rather than letting yourself fall in love with a sweet puppy.”



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