A Home Divided
One dog at a time is generally all I can manage, but a few times in my life I have…
My faithful informant, Alexa, told me that a new breed was just accepted into the AKC (American Kennel Club)! Two days ago (as of the writing of this blog), the AKC recognized their 197th breed, the Biewer Terrier. I think that is exciting! And, oh my goodness, have you seen the Biewer Terrier? SO adorable! I will talk more about these little cuties later, but first I want to enlighten you on how cool it is – and how difficult – to be accepted into the AKC.
I am sure you have heard people say, sometimes boastfully, “My dog is registered”. “Registration” can mean many things. In fact, there are tons of dog registries! Some are for purebreds only, some for mixed or hybrid breeds, and some very specific one-breed registries. Internationally there are about 400 dog breeds registered with various registry organizations, not to mention the many breeds that have not been formally recognized by any registries.
The AKC organization began in the late 1800’s for the purpose of advocating for purebred dogs as family companions, advancing canine health and well-being, to protect the rights of all dog owners, and promote responsible dog ownership. It was started by 12 sportsmen, so it’s not surprising that the first 9 dogs registered to the AKC were all sporting dogs. Besides being the oldest dog registry, the largest, and most well-known, the AKC is the only purebred registry that is not for profit. Proceeds collected by the AKC goes towards education initiatives, including the promotion of responsible dog ownership.
If a breed is accepted into the AKC, it means they can participate and earn titles at the highest levels in the over 20,000 AKC events each year, including agility, obedience, performance sports, and conformations. What is most exciting is the privilege to compete for Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show, considered the most prestigious of all competitions. And, if you are feeling a bit snooty (lol), an AKC registry is the most esteemed of all purebred dog registries.
So why doesn’t the AKC recognize all the 400 breeds mentioned above? Well, to ensure the registry’s integrity, there is a lot that has to happen before a breed can be accepted into the AKC. It’s not like you just send in an application and someone stamps it “approved”. There has to be documented breed history. Those kinds of records can span several years. It is a long, demanding process. Not only that, but the AKC has very high standards for their dogs. Unsocialized, aggressive, or otherwise “unstable” dogs will never be a part of the AKC. Additionally, breeders must make a commitment to the health and wellbeing of their dogs by certifying the breed is health tested.
The first step before submitting a breed for recognition is to join the AKC’s FSS (Foundation Stock Service) program. One of the most important concerns of any breeder is the integrity and protection of their breed. The only way integrity can be managed is by maintaining accurate pedigree and ownership records. The FSS will do that for you. Applying to the FSS is a laborious process in itself, which includes providing a 40-year breed history, a written breed standard, and supplying accurate photographs.
Next, you must form a national breed club. The AKC will provide materials to help you start a breed club. Getting other breed enthusiasts involved is important. 100 active members of the breed club are required in order to move forward. Then, you need to establish a “parent club” to represent your breed, which is kind of like a spokesperson or “board”. Once a parent club has been established, the AKC will mentor them to achieve full recognition with the AKC.
The next step is to be admitted into the AKC’s “Miscellaneous” class. The miscellaneous class is a group of breeds that are in the process of being recognized by the AKC but are still working to fulfill all of the requirements. To be accepted into the miscellaneous class, a breed must have at least 150 dogs (in the US), with 3-generations in its studbook. Breeds usually stay in the miscellaneous category for up to three years, sometimes more, sometimes less. The Peruvian Inca Orchid, a beautiful hairless sighthound from South America has been in the Miscellaneous class for a decade! But the Biewer terrier took only 1 ½ years for full acceptance into the AKC registry, having applied only after 6 months.
Finally, to be recognized by the AKC, the following criteria must be met:
1. A demonstrated following and interest (minimum of 100 active household members) in the breed (in the form of a National Breed Club).
2. A sufficient population of the breed in this country (minimum of 300-400 dogs), with a three-generation pedigree. Dogs in that pedigree must all be of the same breed.
3. Geographic distribution of the dogs and people (located in 20 or more states).
4. AKC must review and approve the club’s breed standard as well as the club’s constitution and by-laws. Breed observations must be completed by AKC Field Staff.
It’s pretty stringent to become fully registered by the AKC, don’t you think? But that’s okay! The AKC’s approach to certifying a breed assures an exemplary pedigree.
As stated in #1 above, one of the main reasons the AKC does not recognize a breed is because of “too little interest among owners of the breed”. No other dog that I know of has more interest among its owners than the very popular goldendoodles and labradoodles, yet they are still not accepted by the AKC and unlikely to be so anytime soon. Why? Technically, the AKC does not recognize breeds that are the result of the crossing of two other AKC registered breeds – in this case, the Golden Retriever (Or Labrador Retriever) and the Poodle. And as extraordinary as the doodles are, we cannot deny that the breed is a mix, and a “mix” will never be permitted into the AKC.
The American Pit Bull Terrier is another very popular breed that is not recognized by the AKC. We have dozens of American Pit Bull Terriers visit Holiday Barn Pet Resorts. The breed line for these beautiful dogs is confusing. Some say that this is the same dog as the American Staffordshire Terrier, although the Staffordshire is generally smaller than the American Pit Bull Terrier. It is believed that the confusion all started way back in the 1930’s when the AKC decided to give the dog a new name in order to separate it from its pit-fighting past. What is interesting is that the American Staffordshire Terrier and similar breeds: The Bull Terrier and the Staffordshire Bull Terrier are all recognized by the AKC. Apparently, the AKC does not like the word “pit”, as it refers to where fighting dogs used to fight – in a pit. That makes sense.
So what if our dog is one inch too tall, or their head is slightly more rounded than AKC breed standards! They are perfect in our eyes, right? If you would like your near-perfect pup to participate in all the fun events the AKC offers, there are a couple of different options for you.
The AKC has a program called “Canine Partners”. This program welcomes all dogs, including mixes. It is not a “registration”, but rather an enrollment that gives these dogs the ability to participate in AKC sports and events.
There is also a program through the AKC called The Purebred Alternative Listing Program (PAL). This program is for purebred dogs that do not have a registration – for whatever reason (lost; unregistered parents, etc.). Instead of having an AKC registration number, the dogs are assigned a PAL number. This allows the dog to participate in AKC Companion and Performance events. Pretty cool, huh?
Okay, let’s talk about the adorable little Biewer (pronounced byoo-ur) Terrier! These little cuties are sure to add much excitement to AKC competition events. It’s like they were created just to make us smile! The Biewer Terrier is described by the AKC as an elegant, longhaired, tri-colored toy terrier whose only purpose in life is to love and be loved. They maintain a charming, whimsical attitude well into adulthood They are intelligent, devoted, amusing; hearty and athletic; happy go lucky; all this in a small 4 – 8-pound package! They look much like a Yorkshire terrier, but they have a recessive piebald gene which you don’t see in a Yorkie. I think I’m in love.
Oh, BTW… While we were all busying ourselves with the coronavirus in 2020, three other breeds were accepted into the AKC: the Barbet, Dogo Argentino, and the Belgian Laekenois! 2020 was a big year for the AKC!
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