Has AKC lost its mission for dogs?

From the monthly column “On The Line”, ShowSight Magazine June 2017 Issue

AKC’s Mission is to promote the purebred dog by providing a bloodline registry and dog shows in which to compare breeding stock.

How times change!  AKC recorded only about 225,000 registrations in 1948. That number multiplied by 10 in the 90’s, indicating that the mission was succeeding.  But by 2016 registrations were dismal, down to only 525,000. See AKC Mission Statement Changes {1}. 

Interestingly, promoting educated breeding, product sales and other smart business enterprises of purebred stock proved more profitable. From only a few $million before the turn-of-the-century, AKC’s coffers swelled to $50,000,000 in the early nineties and by 2008, over $70,000,000. In 2016, overall revenue from registration and related fees, plus products and services totaled $34.6 million.

AKC’s not-for-profit tax status has been unchallenged although an accountant would wonder why, when registrations began to shrink, the AKC operations budget did not. In fact, AKC Board and Officer Salaries {2} remained at the top scale. In retrospect the AKC board must have had a vision of increasing services and thereby increasing income.  That it has done but many would say that the original mission (the advancement of the sport and breeding of purebred dogs) was lost.

Dog shows exploded from a smattering of small gatherings to compare breeding stock to over 3 million “events” many of which seem to focus more on the people than the dogs.  Indeed, dog shows have always been a social event but today they are more about deals, careers, and where sales are made. 

Many would agree that when the American Kennel Club shifted focus from the evaluation of breeding stock to judging how people present their dogs (from children’s classes to national owner-handled awards) the mission of the sport suffered.

Ignoring its Mission Statement, obedience competition was opened to mutts, i.e. Mixed Breeds.  AKC then sanctioned more spectator-friendly events such as Agility, Flyball, and Trick Dog, etc. Fun for all but what does having an AKC-titled mongrel have to do with AKC’s Mission of preserving and promoting the purebred dog?  

The answer is “not much.”

And “breeding to the AKC Standard” is passé because the American Kennel Club now issues certificates for anything that looks like a pure breed of dog.  For a paltry $35 you can buy your “ticket to the world of AKC events and clubs!” so why bother buying a real AKC purebred dog?  

What do these registration and competition exceptions mean to the future of real purebred dogs?  Will AKC have to change its Mission Statement again? What meaning do AKC Breed Standards have in today’s show ring or breeding programs?  One multi-Group AKC judge has something to say about Preserving The Breed Standards. {3}  

Show Breeders must wonder if AKC really cares about that little detail because seasoned dog show exhibitors witness flagrant conformation judging disregard or outright ignorance of the AKC Standards.  Does the current AKC Board (or active judges) ever read or reflect on the American Kennel Club Mission Statement?  Or is it easier to just disregard it and concentrate on pleasing the people who can get them more assignments?

What can you expect when as a dedicated breeder, breed ring exhibitor, or puppy buyer, you want a purebred dog that looks like and acts like the breed described in the standard?  Can you still count on the American Kennel Club as the gold “standard” for that breed?  Ask your friends, club members, and most of all, ask your breeder if AKC seems to have lost its way and its Mission.

Then, email Editor@TheDogPress.com and tell us what the consensus was so that we can do a follow-up report.  Please specify if you only want your input tallied but do not want your name used.  Reader privacy is always respected.

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{1} AKC MISSION STATEMENT: CHANGES 2005 to 2015 | TheDogPress.com



  • Barbara “BJ” Andrews is the breeder of over 300 AKC Champions including over a dozen All-Time record holders. She is the author of 8 breed books and founder of 3 AKC Breed Clubs. In 1998 she launched the world’s first public website (TheDogPlace.org) followed by TheDogPress.com and TheJudgesPlace.com which, as part of the NetPlaces Network, serves all facets of dog ownership and exhibition. She and husband Bill pioneered the Akita, Miniature Bull Terrier, and Toy Fox Terrier to AKC recognition and BJ served on the board of each Parent Club. She has judged in England and AKC Specialty Sweeps. She was awarded UKC All Breeds approval but has never applied for an AKC judges license because it could interfere with objective reporting on the sport.

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