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AKC Registered

AKC Registration Papers and Pedigrees (or any registry for that matter)


At some point, if you're talking to an un-knowledgeable breeder or a proud new owner, you might hear something like this "This puppy has AKC papers and a pedigree!"


They expect you to respond with an awed whistle. Here's a better response:  "Oh, yay."


You thought AKC registration meant good quality. The truth is...


The AKC will register any puppy whose parents are already registered. They registered those parents because their parents were already registered.  And they registered their parents because... You get the idea.


Registration is purely a mechanical process, a chain of numbers. You send the AKC money. If the owners of your puppy's parents and grandparents were all good people who kept the chain intact by sending in their own money, the AKC will insert your puppy's name into their database, too. They will send you a piece of paper with a number on it. Voila...she's registered.


"They have an infinite supply of numbers. It's a good business to be in."




"But what about a pedigree? Doesn't that mean something?"


Send more money, and the AKC will access their database again. It will spit out the names of your puppy's parents, grandparents, many generations as you're willing to pay for. Voila...her pedigree.


That's all a pedigree is: a list of names.


Not one of those dogs (including your puppy) had to meet any qualifications of temperament, health, or appearance. None whatsoever. They can be purple in color, sickly in health, aggressive or shy in personality. The AKC will give them the same kind of registration number they give to the Best of Breed winner at the Westminster Kennel Club show.




"And here I thought AKC registered meant they were fine quality dogs."


Don't be fooled. Registration papers don't suggest quality in dogs any more than they suggest quality in cars.

Does buying a registered car mean it won't be a clunker? Of course not.


In fact, registration papers may suggest quality in cars more than in dogs, because in most states a car can only be registered if it has passed a smog check or mechanical safety check. The AKC registers dogs with no health or safety checks at all.


Every year, thousands of AKC registered litters are produced. The majority of them are of poor quality, because good quality would require the breeder to have some knowledge of genetics, health and temperament and most people who have litters don't want to bother.


Hopefully you will never again make the mistake of thinking that the mere existence of AKC papers has anything whatsoever to do with a dog's quality.



"But papers at least mean a dog is purebred, right?"


Well...a dog can be purebred without having registration papers. Being purebred simply means that a particular puppy and all of his ancestors going back many generations have the same set of fixed genes.


When genes can be counted on to reproduce certain traits such as size, coat, color, shape of head, etc., they are considered "fixed" genes. Having these fixed genes makes a dog purebred. The presence or absence of registration papers has no effect whatsoever on the genes.


To make matters worse, even when a dog HAS registration papers, he is not necessarily purebred.




Registration operates entirely on the honor system. The AKC takes the breeder's word for it that King and Queen were really the parents of Solomon.


Let's say someone has a purebred female and a purebred male. Unfortunately, the female gets out of his yard and is bred by a mixed breed male down the street. When the litter arrives, a dishonest breeder could fill out the registration papers saying his purebred male was the father. No one will be the wiser...until perhaps the puppies grow up and start to look suspiciously non-purebred. I have seen many dogs whose appearance is proof positive that they are not from two purebred parents. Yet they have registration papers.


You must deal only with responsible breeders to ensure that the parents and grandparents listed on a puppy's registration certificate and pedigree were really her ancestors. And really purebred.


Always remember that GENES make a dog purebred. The presence or absence of registration papers doesn't change the genes inside a dog. She can be purebred without having papers -- and sadly, she can have papers without really being purebred.




"So are papers and pedigrees worth anything at all?"


In the hands of responsible breeders, oh, yes. Because they use them as a starting point for their research and improving their lines, tracking health etc..


Before they breed two dogs together, responsible breeders check out the temperament, health, structural strengths, and structural weaknesses of as many ancestors on the pedigree as they can track down. This information is crucial in deciding how to match up breeding partners, or even whether to breed them together at all.




"Should I buy a puppy from a breeder or someone who doesn't have papers or a pedigree?"


I sure wouldn't. A breeder can't predict health, temperament, and sound structure in his puppies if he doesn't know anything about their background. When there are good breeders who care enough to do research before breeding, why reward a lazy person who decides it's not important because "they're just pets?" You have as much right to a well-bred, genetically healthy puppy as anyone else. Rewarding an ignorant person with money only encourages him to do the same thing again.


Wait that is exactly how many puppy mills get started, so please don't support them. If you want a cheap dog go to a rescue. Yes they still come form lazy back yard breeders and puppy mills but at least the money is not going to them directly. Any reputable breeder would never allow their dogs to go to a shelter, rescue or humane society. They take them back and assist in finding good homes for them.



"So I want papers...not because their presence indicates a high-quality dog, but because if the parents are not registered it indicates an un-knowledgeable breeder right off the bat."


Exactly! Now, your next step is to determine the actual quality of the dogs on those papers...



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