A dog registration in the AKC (American Kennel Club) the UKC (United Kennel Club), or the CKC (Continental Kennel Club is better than a registration in a lesser known Registry, or no registry at all, as these are truly devoted to the betterment of breeds and have stood the test of time.
But, registration or “papers” should never be the defining point that causes you to choose one breeder or dog over another.
A kennel club is usually devoted to the betterment of purebred dogs, either for many breeds or for a single breed. They can be national or local, but their mission is to define breed standards and/or working standards, and to provide competitions that demonstrate how well the dogs meet those standards. It is a gathering place for people and dogs to meet and exchange ideas and concerns, they provide health and breeding guidance, standards for breeding, and work to protect the breed’s welfare and betterment.
Kennel clubs, or breed clubs, may also provide for breed rescue, breeder referrals, breed history; a list and description of health issues that may be common to the breed; and relevant articles and references to other agencies involved in the welfare of any particular breed.
As previously mentioned, a function of a kennel club, and sometimes a breed club, may be to register dogs — this simply means to keep records on specific dogs. It is not a certification of anything more than the dog’s records are maintained by some recognized entity. While the AKC, UKC, or CKC are more specific in their registration requirements, and may have more “weight” in a buyer’s mind than a lesser known organization, they remain only record keepers and do not guarantee the quality of the dog. Most of their information is provided by the breeder with little to zero investigation unless something appears questionable.
The most common registry method is to provide a temporary registration of a litter followed by a full or limited registration of the dog by its final owner. A full registration of a dog permits for registration of any litters produced by that dog. A limited registration indicates that the new owner shouldn’t breed the dog, and any litters cannot be registered. Only the original breeder can change a limited registration to a full registration.
You should also obtain a pedigree on each of the parents of your particular puppy. A pedigree is a certified record of the lineage of the puppy – its parents, the grandparents and the great grandparents. It provides registration information as well as any titles.
The breeder should be able to provide you with copies of the parent’s pedigrees and when you purchase the puppy, you can file for a “Certified Pedigree” from the Registry that will be specifically for your dog going back three generations.
Titles listed in the pedigree are important pieces of information as they illustrate how well dogs in the family tree met established standards for the particular breed, or for performing special “work” tasks (ie, field trails, obedience, etc.).
Clubs other than the AKC, UKC, or CKC may register dogs not “recognized” by these clubs. If the registration is not from the AKC, UKC or CKC carefully check the registry’s sincerity about the welfare of the breed. It should be the paramount mission. They should have a mission statement that promotes good breeding practices, a breed and/or work “standard”, and should sponsor competitions that test the dogs to the standards.
Less than reputable Kennel Clubs, or registries, are often referred to as paper mills for the puppy mills. These registries will “register” almost any dog, including mixed, designer breeds that respond to the current whim of society; i’ve, cockapoo, labadoodle, dachtreiver, schnoodle, peke-a-poo, etc. These may be fine dogs but they are not purebred dogs, and the conditions under which they are bred and raised can be less than satisfactory. They may also grant litter registrations for litters that exceed good breeding practices.
Cross-breeding requires an in-depth knowledge of both breeds, including genetics and health issues. It takes time and money, and many such breeders are looking to make money, not spend it. “Registration” is one of their selling points, even though that registration is with an agency that exhibits no interest in the betterment of the breed.
Don’t buy a dog simply because it is registered or “has papers”. Learn about the breed. How well it fits into your family and life style. Get a list of kennels (not pet shops!) and visit the kennel. Go to Evaluating A Breeder for a questionnaire to use when evaluating a kennel.
Please read The USDA and Puppy Mills to gain a better understanding of what a USDA Kennel License really means.
Written by Ron Lueth, Pet Guardian Angels of America