The American Kennel Club (AKC) | How They Help

by

Maria Reverberi

Last updated March 7, 2018

What This Article Covers

There is a misconception about purebreds from many dog owners. Some people believe that breeding dogs for sport is animal abuse. However, that is far from the truth. 

There are strict rules and regulations when it comes to breeding canines. Responsible dog owners who breed their dogs and enter them in shows must abide by those rules.  In fact, dog owners who breed their dogs for sporting events and competitions spend an exuberant amount of money to maintain and take care of their canines and make sure their dogs are certified by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

What is the AKC?

Established in 1884, the American Kennel Club became the legislative organization responsible for establishing the rules, regulations, and standards of purebreds.  More importantly, they are dedicated to protecting the well-being of all canines and dedicated to maintaining dog registries.  Throughout the years, the organization has grown and become the authoritative figure for advancing the purebred sport, protecting dog owner's rights and promoting dog ownership.

AKC logo
Mission Statement

"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".

How Does AKC Work?

AKC's legislative efforts are administered by their Government Relations department (GR). The GR is "dedicated to protecting the rights of all dog owners, promoting responsible dog ownership and ensuring that laws governing dog ownership and breeding are reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory".  

The main goal of this governing department is to educate dog owners and breeders about any legislation that could impact and affect them in any way. The organization encourages members affected negatively by policymakers to get involved to fix the issue. 

Government Relations 

AKC Government Relations

AKC's Government Relations department provides a variety of services to its members, affiliations, legislative partners, and local and state officials. Some of the most common services provided are listed below:

  • Track and review legislation that can impact everyone.
  • Develop and dispense materials, statements of opposition support to local, state and federal officials in order to ensure any information distributed is reasonable, enforceable and non-discriminatory towards dogs.
  • Direct involvement with clubs, federation members, and allied groups in order to implement and oversee the rights of responsible dog owners and breeders.
  • Provide expertise and assist individuals on canine issue-based policy briefs, laws, etc.
  • AKC PAC:  provides candidate support for federal or state legislative office holder who embraces reasonable enforceable laws protecting the health and welfare of dogs.

In order to have the financial means to do the latter, funds are distributed through two groups:

  • Canine Legislative Support Fund: Funds are used to "educate and advocate on your behalf at the federal, state, and local levels and to ensure your rights as a responsible dog owner are protected".
  • AKC Political Action Committee (PAC): "Funds are obtained exclusively from individuals and used to contribute to campaigns to help elect dog-friendly leadership in congress and state houses across the nation. PAC funds may not be used to lobby officials once they are in office or to influence legislation. They may only be used in campaigns".

Moreover, the American Kennel Club is an adamant enforcer of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  AWA is the only federal law created in the United States that regulates the treatment and care of animals in research and exhibition.   

Animal Welfare Act

In 1976, the American Welfare Act was amended to clarify animal transport, commerce, and addressed animal fighting for the first time in United States history.

Position Statements

AKC's primary position in canine public policy is to educate and inform the public and dog owners of the rights and regulations of having a dog. Through their legislative position statements, AKC has maintained the integrity of dog owners around the world. 

Below are some of the most recognized position statements.

For a full list of all position statements, take a look at AKC's website.

AKC Canine Partners

AKC Canine Partners welcomes ALL dogs to the AKC family.  Mixed breeds and non-eligible AKC registered dogs are allowed and encouraged to participate in AKC events and earn titles.  Dog owners are also encouraged to connect and socialize with each in an effort to spread awareness.

AKC events open to participation are:

  • Agility
  • Obedience
  • Rally
  • Tracking and coursing ability

In addition, AKC offers training and socialization resources to help you train your puppy into a well-behaved canine.  In the same token, they also offer responsible dog ownership information.

Dog  Breeds

The American Kennel Club owns the official list of breeds. Additionally, they provide information on the legitimate breeders in your area. AKC's website has a  breed selector page where you input your geographical area and personal criteria to help you chose the right breed for you.

The site also helps you distinguish each breed which is helpful when deciphering the dog of your choice.  Moreover, AKC represents each dog breed according to their group, size, and characteristics which have become the accepted standards for qualification and registry.

Each year, AKC publishes a list of the most popular breed in the United States. The Labrador Retriever topped the list for the 26th time in 2016.

When I adopted my little Harley, I was a new doggy parent. Harley came into my life as a birthday present from my then husband. He was severely allergic to dog fur from German Shepards, Labs, etc.  Just being near them caused his throat to close. I searched through AKC's breeds and came across the Bichon Frise which was labeled as having "infrequent shedding" and being "hypoallergenic".  

I found an AKC breeder who presented us with Harley's baby picture.  I adopted Harley at 8 weeks old after she was weaned.  The day I took her home, I found out Harley's parents were previous champions of Best in Shows.  I never entered her in competitions. I fell in love with her and soon realized she had the inherited showcase strut. 

Online Dog Registry

AKC licensed ownership is transferred to the owner during registry.  Registering is easy. All you do is log on to their online registry and enroll your pup. You'll need to provide the information provided to you by the breeder/seller.  

The registry is categorized as follows:

  • Purebred
  • AKC Canine Partners (includes mixed breeds and non-AKC purebreds)
  • AKC purebreds not eligible for full registration

Furthermore, AKC's website provides services available to all dog owners regardless of purebred status. 

Dog Health

AKC's website also features several articles dedicated to educating dog owners about dog health and welfare.  The American Kennel Club's blogs focus on maintaining a healthy, happy and active dog. 

Health blogs cover:

  • Parasites 
  • Symptoms
  • Conditions 

Dog nutrition blogs cover:

  • General nutrition
  • Weight management
  • Vitamins & supplements
  • Natural foods

Puppy information blogs cover: 

  • Preparing for puppy
  • Months 2-12

Vet's Corner offers medical information/diagnosis written by certified veterinarians. The blog covers:

  • Heath
  • Fitness and training
  • Is that normal? 
  • Dog videos

Dog Care Resources

American Kennel Club's resources also provide education about dog training, health and grooming, and behavior.  Webinars and books explore dog behavior. You can benefit from all the amazing resources at your disposal. 

AKC Magazines 

AKC Gazette
The Gazette has informative vintage articles about Best in Shows, agility contests, and more.


Family Dog

Family Dog contains blogs that discuss a variety of subjects including but not limited to breeds, dog behavior, and how the environment affects a dog's health.

The Complete Dog Book: 20th Edition is AKC's official book.

Westminister Best in Show

Westminister show

The Westminister Kennel Club (WKC)  dog show is the most prestigious dog event in the United States.  AKC registered purebreds compete in a sequence of AKC championships.  Handlers train their canines to earn 15 points and two major wins to become an American Kennel Club "Champion of Record". 

Once your dog has earned status, they may enter Westminister competitions. The male and female canines compete separately in three categories:

  • Bred by Exhibitor
  • American-Bred
  • Open

Dogs are then awarded according to three categories:

  • Best of Breed:  Best in its breed
  • Best of Winners:  Better of the male dog and female dog winners
  • Best of Opposite Sex:  The best opposite sex breed

Only the winners of the Best of Breed advance to compete in the classified groups they belong to:

  • Sporting
  • Hound
  • Working
  • Terrier
  • Toy
  • Non-sporting
  • Herding

Through the process of elimination, one dog remains the successor to the Best in Show crown. This year's Best in Show Champion was the adorable Bichon Frise, Flynn.  And yes, I am biased because my little Harley is an AKC registered Bichon Frise too. Flynn was representing.  Look at that lovable, fluffy face! 

Flynn Bichon Frise

A few years ago I went to AKC/Eukanuba Dog Show National Championship and had the opportunity to see sporting and classification events. I walked behind the scenes, met handlers and their beautiful dogs.  I witnessed anxious parents cheering for their babies just like a human mother or father cheers for their kid competing in a sport.

At ScoutKnows, we rely on the American Kennel Club for the latest government dog ownership legislation. We cite them often because they are the leaders in protecting the rights of canines and their owners.  They uphold the welfare, well-being and public policy issues that pertain to dog ownership and as such are an invaluable tool.