To the average person who loves dogs, the rules and regulations of some nationwide dog registry associations like the American Kennel Club (AKC) can seem unusual, to say the least. You would reasonably expect that a puppy registered by the AKC would be a healthy, high quality purebred, yet this isn’t always so. You can really only be sure of getting a pedigree puppy. The health of the puppy’s parents and ancestry, and the quality of the breeder, are not monitored by them. This can surprise a lot of dog lovers who would certainly assume that a prominent dog association like the American Kennel Club would provide such basic assurances. And it demonstrates why some breed clubs, such as those for the Australian kelpie dog breed, have chosen not to implement the requirements for American Kennel Club registration. This means they’re not eligible for recognition by the AKC as a distinct breed, and these dogs are not allowed to compete in the many AKC run dog shows. It does, however, protect the breed’s health.
What the AKC wanted breeders of the Australian kelpie to do was effectively limit the natural genetic variability of their dogs. Pedigree dogs seem to be bred from an ever decreasing gene pool. And this is especially true for those most concerned with champion lines. The net effect is that a lot of these dogs cannot do a lot of things the breed was once known for, such as hunt. It has also meant a lot of genetic health problems, as a result of too much inbreeding to keep the lines ‘pure’. Dogs are mated back to their parents and grandparents, all because it creates dogs that help win dog shows. The University of Wisconsin:
“First, the AKC defines quality in a dog primarily on the basis of appearance, paying scant heed to such other canine characteristics as health, temperament, and habits of work. Over the years this policy has led to destructive forms of inbreeding that have created dogs capable only of conforming to human standards of beauty. Many can no longer perform their traditional tasks–herding, tracking, hunting–while more than a few cannot live outside a human-controlled environment.” (Source)
Of course, this may not be the only reason why a breed isn’t listed by the AKC. Some of the smaller breeds are not recognized as they are smaller versions of larger dogs, and the AKC doesn’t recognize the distinction. This is true of dogs like the small German spitz and the toy Manchester terrier.
In any case, registration by the American Kennel Club is not as important as buying a good quality dog from a breeder who breeds with the health of the dogs in mind, as well as to preserve the dog’s natural abilities. Breeders who breed primarily for show are more likely to follow breeding practices that create genetic defects. And it could result in dogs that have less than desirable temperaments as pets. Whilst there may be some instances where this is not true, in the long run, sustained inbreeding can only result in long term problems for a breed.
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