AKC: Worth Its Weight In Dog Poop?

Registration papers from The American Kennel Club (AKC) assure a new owner that he or she has just purchased a quality pup, right?

WRONG! The AKC merely certifies that your pup’s parents, and their parents, were also registered by the AKC.

The bloodlines of your registered pup are pure for at least three generations, and it is guaranteed that your dog’s phenotypic characteristics (size, shape, color, etc.) “resemble” others of its breed.

The standards in NO way guarantee temperament or demand that a dog be able to perform its traditional function – that the Chesapeake be able to swim and fetch, for example.

An organization created to protect the purity of dog bloodlines has become . . . misguided in its view of ‘quality’ and guilty of encouraging destructive forms of inbreeding that have robbed dogs of traditional skills and left them vulnerable to crippling disease.

How so?

1. The American Kennel Club defines quality in a dog primarily on the basis of appearance. Scant attention is given to such other canine characteristics as health, temperament, and working skills. 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.

• AKC Irish Setters have been inbred for show quality conformation to the point that they are often ridiculed as being “so dumb that they get lost on the end of their leash.”

• The Cocker Spaniel has not competed in field trials since 1965, having lost its ability to hunt.

• In the 1950s show zealots turned the German Shepherd into a weak-hipped animal with a foul temper and bizarre downward-sloping hindquarters.

• Many of the toy breeds are so small and fragile that they cannot live outside artificial environments.

• The Bulldog and the Boston Terrier have difficulty whelping naturally, because of the breeds’ exaggerated heads, and bitches are regularly subjected to Cesarean sections.

 • In Australia the Kelpie, which is considered a rival to the Border Collie in the management of sheep, became the darling of the show ring in the 1930s and within three decades had nearly lost its herding instinct.

2. Because it benefits financially from the registration of dogs produced and sold commercially, the American Kennel Club has failed to take a stand against the puppy mills and pet stores that exploit purebred dogs. It will neither refuse to register those animals – although many dogs, produced and sold under inhumane conditions, are of questionable pedigree and genetic fitness – nor cooperate with authorities seeking to regulate them.

• Puppy-mill dogs are poorly socialized. The crucial periods for puppies to form human contact are six to twelve weeks and again from four to six months. Without that, they often have behavioral problems. Most puppies sold through stores are more than three months old and have missed the first of these periods.

• At most stores puppies (not to mention kittens) receive no medical care and can suffer from worms, dehydration, and malnutrition, in addition to genetic defects. Animals that are sickly and remain unsold are sometimes killed and thrown away

• Critics charge that the AKC has refused to take an active stand against commercial exploitation because it derives more than 70 percent of its annual income from the registration of litters and dogs. That money, they point out, supports all AKC activities, including those in behalf of dog shows and trials, which promote appearance – conformation to an idealized breed standard – as the essence of quality.

In the AKC,” one official has noted, “the dog becomes an object. People get dogs, don’t use them, and then selectively breed them for characteristics other than work.

William F. Stifel, a former President of the American Kennel Club, was once asked whether the AKC would register a blind, deaf, three-legged purebred pup with hip dysplasia and green fur.

Stifel’s blunt response? “We would register the dog. AKC unfortunately does not mean quality.”

from The Atlantic, 1990, 265(3), 49

Tzuri AKC Registration Certificate

But what about Tzuri, you ask?


Do I have any assurance that she will be a worthy representative of her breed?

🙂 🙂 🙂

To Be Continued…

19 Replies to “AKC: Worth Its Weight In Dog Poop?”

  1. Remember my Pekingese “Two”?

    Had his papers and was so fucked up we had to put him to sleep. Vet said he was a victim of inbreeding.



    1. No, I don’t remember! Was that when you and Mary had the apartment with the beige VW outside? Sorry about your loss but as always you come up with the best names (“Two”)!


  2. Oops! She is absolutely so gorgeous I get a little choked up when I look at her. Can’t wait to meet her. (sending longer personal email in next few days! News!). martha


  3. Very interesting facts about how some dogs’ natural instincts have been bred out of them. I had no idea. My two dogs (Rhodesian Ridgeback mix and some type of shepherd mutt) both came from the shelter. A vet friend once told me they will probably be healthier than if we had chosen to go with a breeder, especially the Ridgeback, because of the inbreeding. Your pup is gorgeous. I love German Shepherds.


    1. Thanks, Angela, for taking the time to read this. I have always been intrigued by Ridgebacks but never been close to one. They look intimidating but no doubt are very loyal and loving to their family. I see yours in one of your pictures and hope she has been a comfort to you during these trying times.

      I await your next post with fear and trembling… and hope!


      1. Ridgebacks are amazing dogs. We were looking for a Ridgeback because they are able to run long distances. She’s a great runner, but she’s also a sight hound, which means that anything that moves is fair game. They are very intelligent, loyal, and have lots of energy.


        1. Of course, makes perfect sense now! Two runners in the family. Is it a case of the tortoise and the hare? 🙂


          1. She actually prefers to run right next to us. She finds her pace and settles in nicely. I have no doubt she could do a 20 miler if we let her. They were bred to chase lions, so there is that . . .


  4. I didn’t even realize she was a German Shepherd. See the certificate is worth something!!


  5. I’ve hated the low-slung hip look that they’ve inflicted on the German Shepherds. To me the poor thing looks crippled – which apparently they are. Who ever decided that was a look to go for? As with most things, it appears that it’s all about money or greed. Hopefully your Tzuri isn’t part of that line. I’ve heard the Europeans didn’t go for that crazy fad.


    1. Yes, I got a gal of total German breeding. They went their own way and left the Americans to self-destruct. They also won’t certify for breeding any dog that doesn’t also have working titles in obedience, tracking, and protection – i.e., temperament and character which has been tested. Thanks…


  6. I couldn’t remember why I haven’t liked the AKC until I read your post. Yes, they’re famous for promoting a lot of damage and being full of themselves in the process. But the article you offer is a fairly broad and virulent indictment. If very good health and sterling characteristics weren’t some part of breeding wouldn’t the litters decrease in size, some of those lines die out? I’ve known a couple of decent cat breeders and been to NYC cat and dog shows which are a delight; turns out most of the participant animals love the attention, and the owners were so enraptured with the breed they just wanted to see the tribes increase. I know too there are horrific puppy mills. Tzuri however has the robust look of champion brain and body and clearly a sterling example, and I love hearing about her.


    1. Thanks, Barbara. I feel like I am boring everyone with Tzuri posts one after another but right now as a puppy she has my attention 24/7.


      1. It’s not remotely boring, it’s 100% delight. Really, John, it’s all so engaging and interesting, your take on Tzuri the Magnificent and what she’s adding to your life on a daily basis, like the best serial since Sky King or Davy Crockett or one of those fabulous cliff hanger stories. I swear I cannot wait to see more and new pictures of her, of you together, and hear the mischief and brilliance she’s up to. A star is born, and MORE MORE MORE!!!


  7. A rather sobering read, and a horrible reflection on AKC’s lack of stance on breeding for the purpose of a pedigree bloodline. It must be true that in this modern urban world most breeds can’t fulfill their original intended roles….. yet so often there are stories of the most urbanised of dogs coming to the rescue of their owners, displaying traits still locked in the genes. It’s going to be interesting to read how Tzuri’s character and traits unfold.


    1. Very good point about dogs rising to the occasion. That’s always a story that needs to be told. Thanks…


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