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With over 43 million dog owning families in the U.S. isn’t it sad that the American Kennel Club is only able to attract a fraction of that population?


October 16 2017

CinDee Byer, Breed Clubs Editor


Dog ownership is on the rise but AKC registrations continue to fall. It is becoming clear people have not lost interest in dogs but in the way the American Kennel Club is running the show today.


The American Kennel Club can create all the piddly titles and competitions they want. People may come but they will not stay. The owner of a mixed breed dog will not learn how or why to choose a quality purebred dog. They will not learn about a breed or the breeder. They will not become part of the sport and they will not continue to compete for trivial AKC titles.


While AKC delegates and leadership continue to pat themselves on the back for menial ideas and profit geared mixed-breed ventures, the purebred dog suffers.


The problem for the AKC is that anyone today can call themselves a kennel club and hand out meaningless titles for tricks. What the American Kennel Club fails to appreciate is that their only unique commodity is the purebred dog. Due to restrictive legislation, never again will we have the major breeding programs, represented by centuries of selective breeding, which created our breeds. Without the purebred dog and its breeders there is no reason for the AKC to exist.


To begin fixing what has been destroyed, the first priority of the AKC should be to allow breeders to be breeders.


Stop trying to run our lives, stop trying to change us into “subjects” or cash registers. Return breed and judges education to the breed clubs where it belongs. The purebred dog world is a living museum and it is carefully guarded by breeders with great knowledge of structure, breed purpose and history. They understood the necessity of selective breeding in order to maintain a breed. A constant thirst for breed-based knowledge created healthy, growing Breed Clubs and the purebred dog benefited because Breed Clubs educated the public on each breed’s purpose. Education on how or why a certain breed accomplishes a particular task created more public interest in purebred dogs, registrations flourished and the AKC benefited.


However, today with the AKC at the helm of education. the public knows little about the uniqueness of our breeds. Club members and many new AKC judges are unable to define the differences between a mixed breed and a purebred. They are like a curator of a museum who is not able to tell the difference between a Mona Lisa and a velvet Elvis. With a severe lack of knowledge leaders of Parent clubs are beginning to look more like Wal-Mart greeters. They are nice people who meet us at the door but know little about the products in the store. This needs to change!


The second priority should be a clear identification of AKC is; a registry of purebred dogs overseeing purebred dog events!


If the AKC continues to branch out into a diametrically opposed direction from purebred dogs, they must create a separate 50o1c3 organization for that endeavor. That separate entity can fill AKC’s need to fill their coffers by catering to the mixed breed, unregistered pet or “rescued” dog. It can create titles and health tests for that group under a separate name to continue the flow of money from them. They may even find health testing mixed-breeds more meaningful and lucrative than purebreds.


Finally we need to address the most serious problem in the sport of dogs, the dog show as it is today.


Professional handlers are an asset to our dog shows. In most cases they are able to present our dog better than we owners do. They are available to those who are physically unable to handle their own dog. They are skilled at bringing out the best in each specimen. Through their talent and appearance they raise the bar in the sport of dogs…


BUT they are professionals! The definition of professional is “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain.” An amateur is a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefit.


I know of no other sport that requires an amateur to compete against a professional.


The AKC Mission Statement{1} clearly states “The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function.


The AKC often compares Westminster to the Kentucky Derby but in order to jockey a horse you must be a “Licensed Jockey”. To race a car in NASCAR you must meet the licensing requirements. In dog shows amateurs in the breed ring compete with professionals on a regular basis. Due to the lesser skill set of an amateur, a better specimen handled by an amateur may be overlooked by a judge. This ridiculous oversight of AKC competitions is killing interest in our breeds and participation in our breed rings.


The answer to this dilemma is as obvious as it is easy. First, the AKC must define exhibitors as amateur or professional and in the ring they should be clearly designated by different armbands. Second, simplify judging by eliminating unnecessary classes. I believe the UKC has a much better class and point system. The point schedule is easy to follow and rewards all winners with competition (competition is considered more than one male or female entered).


The big plus is no more trying to find majors for AKC exhibitors.


Instead, earn points on your dog’s merits not on how many dogs are entered. The AKC could refine the system to provide separate points for professional and amateur. For more details on the UKC point system go to the UKC site.


The American Kennel Club can make itself great again. It just takes leadership and parent clubs who are more than Wal-Mart greeters. It takes new ideas to preserve an old sport. It takes focus on what is important and unique… it takes a kennel club that protects and promotes the quality purebred dog.


{1} AKC Mission Statement EST 2002 © 1710





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