At some point, if youre talking to an unknowledgeable breeder, youre likely to hear something like this: “My puppies come with AKC papers and a pedigree!”
Now, you might be surprised to hear this, because you probably thought “AKC registered puppies” meant good quality. Thats what the AKC would like you to believe. But its not true.
“But papers at least guarantee that a dog is purebred, right?”
Boy, Im really beginning to feel like the bearer of bad news here!
No. Being purebred means a puppy has inherited the limited combination of genes that have been “fixed” in his breeds gene pool. These are genes for the particular size, type of coat, color pattern, shape of ears, and so on, that match his breed.
Inheriting the genes for his breed is what makes a dog purebred. Registration papers are a separate matter.
A dog can be purebred, yet have no registration papers. And…. a dog can have registration papers, yet still not be purebred.
Its true. A dog can have registration papers, yet not be purebred, because registration papers can be falsified. Most registries, such as the AKC, operate primarily on the honor system. They simply take the breeders word for it that “King” and “Queen” were really the parents of Solomon.
Fortunately, the AKC also offers a program where participating breeders can submit DNA samples of one or both parents to conclusively prove parentage. If you want to be sure of who your puppys parents are, look for breeders who participate in this program.
“Good grief! I thought AKC registered meant good quality!”
Dont be fooled. Registration papers dont suggest quality in a dog any more than they suggest quality in a car. Does buying a car with registration papers mean it wont be a clunker? Of course not.
In fact, registration papers suggest quality in cars more than in dogs, because in most states a car can only be registered if it has at least passed a smog/pollution or mechanical safety check.
The AKC registers dogs with no health or safety checks at all.
So now you know that the existence of AKC papers or a pedigree doesnt mean a dog is good quality. AKC registered puppies with pedigrees is just not a big selling point, no matter how loudly a breeder trumpets it in his classified ad.
Most people who breed purebred dogs claim some affiliation with a registry as a seal of quality for their puppies. Many use that affiliation as a marketing tool, but buyers often learn the hard way that an AKC puppy purchased from a pet store or a backyard breeder is highly unlikely to be of the same caliber as an AKC registered puppy purchased from a reliable breeder.
AKC registration means that the parent dogs were registered, that an irresponsible breeder lied or was mistaken about the breeding that produced the litter, or that an unprincipled breeder was commiting outright fraud to raise the value of the puppies. Registration itself is neither a guarantee nor even an indication of quality. No one examines the parent dogs or the puppies to see if they really qualify for registration, and AKC depends on breeders to be honest when applying for a litter registration. Some unethical breeders apply for registration forms for puppies that have died or were never born, and they then use these certificates on puppies of doubtful parentage.
AKC will investigate and may revoke the litter registration if the puppies or adult dogs do not have the appearance of the breed they are registered as. In the past, proof was difficult to obtain, but the advent of DNA testing has given inspectors a new weapon. If there is doubt about the parentage of a puppy, the AKC inspector can require a DNA test.
AKC registration works like this: When puppies are whelped, the breeder registers the litter; AKC sends a blue slip for each puppy in the litter; the breeder signs the puppy over to the buyer, who then registers the individual puppy in his name and is sent a registration certificate. Cost of litter registration is $20; cost of individual registration is $10.
Every breed of dog has a standard, a set of guidelines for appearance and attitude that was developed by its national breed club and approved by AKC. That standard describes the dog. For example, the standard for the Labrador Retriever says: “The general appearance of the Labrador should be that of a strongly built, short-coupled, very active dog. He should be fairly wide over the loins and strong and muscular in the hindquarters. The coat should be close, short, dense and free from feather.”
What does it mean for a dog to be AKC registered?
Is it worth registering dog with AKC?
What are the benefits of having an AKC registered dog?
What is the purpose of the AKC?