Understanding The Differences Between 2 Major Kennel Clubs

Posted: March 16, 1986

Several readers have asked for an explanation of the differences between the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the United Kennel Club (UKC).

It should be stressed that registration by either of these organizations is no guarantee of the quality of a dog or even of its being purebred. In some countries, committees inspect all dogs before pure breeding or quality is confirmed and registration accepted. This is not done in America.

The American Kennel Club is a nonprofit organization established 103 years ago. Because its stud book incorporates several previous breeding histories, AKC registration provides the longest continuous history of a U.S. dog's ancestry. The AKC stud book is recognized throughout the world as being extremely accurate. At the present time, the AKC registers more than 1 million dogs each year.

It also supervises several thousand dog shows of various kinds: conformation (a type of beauty contest), obedience and field trials. The training and qualifications of its show judges are rigidly monitored. In recent years it has contributed funds for dog-related scientific studies and made some effort to address the problem of mass breeding of dogs on factory farms. However, its limited attention to the puppy-mill problem has not had any appreciable effect on the registrations from such sources or the size of the industry, which has been very deleterious to the quality of pedigreed canines in this country.

The AKC has been very supportive of the new Dog Museum of America, which is housed in its headquarters in New York. And the AKC library is an excellent resource for research.

The organization is governed by delegates appointed by clubs that belong to the AKC. Only clubs, not individuals, can join it. The headquarters are at 51 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10010.

The United Kennel Club is a for-profit corporation founded by Chauncey Z. Bennett in 1898. Its annual registrations total about 225,000. Although it supervises dog shows, the majority of the events that the UKC sponsors are field trials, including several thousand coonhound hunts, reflecting the high percentage of UKC-registered canines that are field or hunting animals.

Many UKC-registered specimens are found in pet stores. Dogs registered with the UKC are not eligible to be bred to AKC-registered dogs or to be shown at AKC-regulated shows. UKC's headquarters are at 100 E. Kilgore Rd., Kalamazoo, Mich. 49001.

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The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has taken a stand against the growing fad of keeping ferrets as pets. The group says that these small, weasel-like animals with pink eyes and yellowish fur can be extremely dangerous.

The AVMA reports that people in various parts of the country have suffered injuries in attacks by pet ferrets. California and a number of municipalities have laws banning ferrets as pets. Suggestions for a similar ban in Pennsylvania surface from time to time, but they have not been acted upon.

Neither New Jersey nor Delaware has a law banning ferrets. The proposed new Philadelphia animal-control ordinance would prohibit the keeping of most wild animals as companions but would exempt ferrets.

A new club has been formed to further the progress of rare Oriental dog breeds in America. Individual breed clubs that sponsor such varieties are important in maintaining U.S. stud books that lead to recognition of the breeds by the American Kennel Club.

Among the activities contemplated by the recently formed Tri-State Oriental Breed Club are monthly meetings, handling classes, educational programs, match shows and an annual competition in conjunction with the Hudson Valley Rare Breed Dog Club.

So far, some of the specimens owned by members already are AKC registered, such as the Akita and the chow chow. However, other members keep rarer breeds such as the shiba inu, the shar-pei and the Chinese crested. For more information write or phone Lynn Arsenault, 740 Atsion Rd., Atco, N.J. 08004 (609-768-0955).

The problem of what will happen to pets after their owners' deaths is a poignant issue. A pioneering program has been started by Texas A&M University that allows a pet owner to establish a charitable trust, with the university's foundation as remainder beneficiary.

Interest returned from the trust for the first 10 years will provide support for the animal and, after the pet's death, the principal creates a perpetual endowment in the donor's name to fund animal-health studies, provide scholarships and develop new programs at the A&M veterinary school.

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