Dog breeds

Why are some dog breeds not recognized by kennel clubs?

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Question: How to make a Labradoodle invisible?

Answer: Look for them on a kennel club registry.

Many of the dogs we see trotting down the street, like Cavapoos or Goldendoodles, are not officially recognized by Kennel Clubs.

Although extremely popular and instantly recognizable, dogs such as the Labradoodle are hybrids and cannot be registered with national kennel clubs and therefore do not officially exist. Although they play, eat and poop like a real dog.

But this doesn’t just apply to designer dogs. For example, the Bull Arab is a popular breed in Australia, but they have not been recognized by the Australian Kennel Club – or any other official national registry.

Why bother with races?

An adorable Cavapoo puppy.

(Photo credit: Sandra Standbridge/Getty Images)

Kennel clubs register breeds to maintain uniformity and to protect the breed standard – that is, their appearance and character traits – over generations. Indeed, dog breeds were first officially recognized in 19th century England for this very purpose.

In the 1860s, as today, people were obsessed with their dogs. They loved them so much that they wanted to show them in public at dog shows. These events were competitive, with prizes awarded to the best dogs.

But when a group of dogs had similar physical traits, how could you decide which was the best? The answer was a checklist of the most desirable traits for the breed: hence the birth of the breed standard.

The ripple effect has been to increase uniformity within a group, with each race distinct and identifiable. It also meant that, when breeding dogs that matched this breed standard, the next generation would be “faithfully bred” or purebred to the parent line, where the term “purebred” comes from.

Of course, someone had to write and check the breed standards, which meant that a governing body had to be put in place to oversee fair play. This is why kennel clubs came into being.

The benefits of official recognition

Does it matter that a rare breed or a hybrid like the Cavapoo or the Malshi receives official recognition?

In fact, there are benefits to being on a kennel club’s approved list. These include:

  • Protecting Endangered Breeds: Breed enthusiasts can work together to protect the number of dogs belonging to rare breeds.
  • Protection of Breed Purity: With a database of purebred stock on file, this helps breeders select breeding stock that is pedigree but not closely related. This promotes genetic diversity while keeping dogs purebred.
  • Promoting Good Breed Health: With a registry of breeders working together, breed-related health issues can be identified, tested, and eventually eradicated.
  • Promoting Breed Welfare: Breeders wishing to register must work to achieve approved standards, which benefits animal welfare.
  • Increased Breed Profile: A purebred dog can compete in dog shows and potentially increase the profile and popularity of the breed.

How do races make the cut?

Portrait of a young bull arabian dog looking at the camera

(Photo credit: LKR Photography/Getty Images)

According to US statistics, only two-thirds of “known” dog breeds are recognized by the American Kennel Club. Why is it?

Obstacles to jump

Registering a breed is not just about filling out forms. It’s complicated and time-consuming – at least 40 years in most cases.

Think of the registration process as an agility course, with many hurdles that must be cleared before reaching the finish line. It can be complex. Let’s see how the American Kennel Club (AKC) tackles this problem.

AKC requirements for registering a new breed include:

  • There must be at least 150 dogs alive.
  • There is an active breed association promoting the dogs.
  • There is a clear description or breed standard for dogs.
  • At least three generations of pedigree are documented in a herd book.
  • The breed is registered on a legitimate foreign or domestic registry.
  • The dogs are of a reliable temperament.
  • The breed has been around for at least 40 years.

The “chicken and egg” riddle

Okay, so if a breed isn’t registered with a kennel club, how can it be on a “legitimate national registry”?

That’s where other organizations come in, such as the American Kennel Club’s Foundation Stock Service. The FSS is a stage where budding purebred dogs can register a herd book as a means of establishing a lineage.

make the cut

Returning to the Bull Arab example and using the American Kennel Club model, let’s see how things stack up when it comes to registration.

A tick in the box for the Bull Arab Breed Association, as the Australian Bullarab Breed Association (ABBA) represents and promotes these dogs, and has created a clear breed standard.

The breed was developed in the 1970s, which puts them on a lifespan of 40 years, provided they breed faithfully during that time.

ABBA may be able to tell us how many dogs are in Australia, but if there are less than 150, no matter how good the documents and records are, the application may stop.

Character controversy

Now here’s an interesting thought. To be registered, a breed must have a good character. This is a practical requirement because a judge cannot properly assess an aggressive dog’s conformation without injury.

Thus, some breeds created as working and guard dogs that are intolerant of strangers may never be registered. Their unpredictable temperament may suit a working dog, but it’s not appropriate in the show ring.

Being of good character makes perfect sense for companion dogs. But this means that some races will exclude themselves from the bureaucracy because ferocity is part of their role or job.

But just like Cavapoos or Labradoodles, that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It takes a little thought, doesn’t it?

Registering a New Breed 101

If a new type of dog can tick all of these boxes, it can be registered as a new breed of dog.

  • An active breed society
  • Over 150 existing dogs
  • Puppies have a predictable appearance for at least three generations
  • The breed is registered on a legitimate registry
  • Dogs have a good temperament
  • A kennel club agrees to register them

Now, it makes sense that in the United States, for example, less than half of known dog breeds are officially registered with the American Kennel Club.

Food for thought indeed: this process requires commitment from parents and breeders, which is good for the dogs. But it could also mean whole swathes of unrecognized breeds go unregulated, which is bad for dogs.

Hmmm – a difficult path to follow.

Do you think all breeds should have strict requirements to be registered with kennel clubs? Do you think we should stop caring about race at all? Let us know in the comments below!