‘Registered’ dog: does it matter?

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As you peruse for sale listings of dogs in ads or on websites, you’ll see dogs that are registered with various organizations. Oftentimes people discussing the quality of their dog will mention that he’s registered in an attempt to prove the dog’s merit.
What does it actually mean to have a registered dog?
The three primary registries you see in this area are the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC) and Continental Kennel Club.
The American Kennel Club began in 1884. It began to keep studbooks in 1887 and in 1888 began to publish the “Gazette,” one of the oldest dog magazines in existence. The AKC is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its registry and promoting the sport of purebred dogs, supporting over 22,000 conformation and performance events annually.  It promotes responsible dog ownership with its Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and Community Canine (Advanced CGC or CGCA) programs, advances canine health and well-being and works to protect the rights of all dog owners. The AKC recognizes a total of 185 breeds, and it also maintains the breed registry for 61 other breeds, which allows them to continue to develop while providing them with a reputable avenue to maintain their breed records.
In order for a dog to be AKC registered, it must be the offspring of AKC registered parents or registered with a recognized foreign registry such as the Canadian Kennel Club or The Kennel Club (of the United Kingdom).
When a new breed is accepted into the AKC, U.S.-born dogs are eligible for registration for a brief time under specific guidelines.The AKC permits breeders to sell dogs under limited registration, which attests to the dog’s purebred status and allows it to compete in performance events but prevents its offspring from being registered.
It also allows purebred dogs without registration papers and mixed-breed dogs to be registered in order to compete in designated performance events. All such dogs must be spayed or neutered prior to registry.
The United Kennel Club, or UKC, was established in 1898. It is the largest all-breed performance-dog registry in the world, registering over 300 breeds of dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries.
The UKC prides itself on family-oriented, friendly, educational events. To promote this, at conformation shows it is against the rules to show a dog for money or for professional handlers to show a dog they do not own. The UKC also focuses strongly on performance events, as more than 60 percent of its nearly 16,000 annually licensed events are tests of hunting ability, training and instinct.
To be UKC registered, a dog must be the offspring of UKC registered parents or be registered with another approved registry. Like the AKC, the UKC offers a performance listing for mix-bred dogs, purebred dogs of unknown pedigree or of breeds not recognized by UKC, to be able to participate in performance events. A performance registration carries no regular registration privileges, so any offspring of the dog can only receive the same type of registration if applied for by the owners.
The Continental Kennel Club was formed in 1991. The abbreviation they use, CKC, is often confused by unsuspecting dog-buyers who mistake the letters for the better known Canadian Kennel Club, which was founded to register pure-bred dogs in 1888.  The Continental Kennel Club recognizes over 450 breeds of dogs, as well as the “designer” dog breeds.
Unlike the AKC and UKC, the Continental Kennel Club has a program developed to evaluate non-registered purebred dogs for inclusion into its purebred dog registry and allow them to produce registered offspring.
Because the registration is based on the physical appearance of the dog, there is no way to be certain if a dog added under the Picture and Witness Evaluation Program (PAW) is actually a purebred dog.  For this reason, neither the AKC nor the UKC recognize Continental Kennel Club registrations.
The Continental Kennel Club offers information on its website about conformation and performance titles and will hold three conformation shows in 2015.
Whatever the registration body of your dog, it is important to remember that registration does not equal quality and that most registered dogs should not be bred. Registration only means that someone filled out paperwork stating that two particular dogs were the parents of a given litter. A registered dog can still have undesirable physical characteristics, disqualifying faults or temperament issues.
When searching for a purebred dog, registration should be just one thing you look for.
Karlene Turkington, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is a lifelong animal lover who has been training dogs for more than 20 years.
Information provided here is only a basic overview of issues. Any specific health or behavioral concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian or with a qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.

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