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Purebred Dog

Should I Register My Purebred Dog? (Video)

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Hey guys, it’s Ash. Today we’re going to dive into a pretty sticky topic in the world of extreme dog lovers, and naturally, it all started because Janice, Leroy, and I bumped into a friend. This time it wasn’t at the dog park, but at a Boxer breed event. People from all over the state who have Boxers get together to hang out, have a breed showing event, and just meet other people who are as crazy about Boxers as they are. It was here that I bumped into an old friend, Kacey, who had Boxers growing up as a kid. She was there to meet some local breeders and try to find a puppy, and we stood around catching up while she went over some of the candidates.

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One thing she wanted to know was why it was that there is such a huge price jump if the puppies are registered, and that caught the ear of some passing dog owners. Soon we had a whole group standing there debating the merits of registration for dogs, and it became very clear to me that this is still a controversial topic in the canine lover’s world. I admit that Janice and Leroy are registered at my request, and I am generally a fan of AKC registration for a lot of reasons. But in the interest of presenting both sides, I did a lot of digging as to why owners may think this is a waste of time and money. Here’s what I discovered that may help you understand if you should register your dog.

What Does It Mean to Be Registered?

When someone says a dog is registered, it means that it is AKC registered. The AKC, or American Kennel Club, is a non-profit organization that, at its core, acts as a sort of official genealogical record service for dogs. In other words, one of the main purposes of the AKC is to keep track of dog family trees. They do this through a process called registration, so if your dog is registered, it means that their place in their family tree is officially recorded and stored for history.

But why does that matter? Why does a dog’s family history being recorded make it so much more expensive from a breeder? Kacey told me that she met one breeder who didn’t offer “papers” (meaning the puppies were not registered) that were $200 a pup…and then she came across some registered puppies that were nearly $1,000! Unless you are a committed dog showing champ, or a breeder yourself, you probably don’t see the point right away in why this registration makes such a difference.

What the AKC Says

So let’s start with what benefits the AKC themselves offer to dogs that are registered. First, if you want to participate in any AKC-sponsored sporting events (as well as many that aren’t officially sponsored), your dog will need to be registered. There are many of these events and they are great for dogs that have a lot of energy. Sometimes a great game of fetch just isn’t enough to keep your dog satisfied. Whether your dog loves the water, is very agile, can run long distances, loves to do tricks, or has some other special interest, you can probably find a sporting event that will suit them. The reason that sporting events tend to require registration is that it’s an easy way to prove identity when signing up, and for certain sports, it also ensures that only allowed breeds are entered. Some dogs, like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, for example, can look so similar that it can hard to tell at a glance if the allowed breed is the one registering for an event. AKC papers take the guess work out, in theory.

Another thing that the AKC offers for registered dogs is a titling program, like the Canine Good Citizen program. These are basically like Boy Scout badges for dogs. They show that your dog has completed some training or proven himself to have mastered a specific behavior. This can be a cool thing to brag about, not to mention it means your dog has a new skill. But in the long run, there’s no other benefit that having a title for your dog can offer.

There are a few other perks that the AKC offers, like a trial run of their pet insurance – something that can be important for pet owners who are concerned about affording expensive vet bills, and a subscription to some magazines. But overall, the ability to participate in official events and earn titles seems to be the only tangible benefits offered by the AKC itself.

My Big Reason for Preferring Registration

There is one very convincing reason for registration that I think many dog lovers are not aware of, and should be. It’s sort of an indirect benefit, but it’s an important one nonetheless. When you register a dog, you pay a fee to have their name listed in their doggie family tree. That fee goes to to the AKC, which as I said earlier is a non-profit organization.

 

If the AKC is a non-profit, what are they doing with that money? As it turns out, they are doing a lot of good! The AKC uses this money, as well as fees from official sporting events and proceeds from merchandise, to support a huge array of programs that help dogs. From training and supporting the organization that does official kennel checks for safety, to funneling money into supporting dog-friendly legislation and backing the canine search and rescue programs, the AKC actually does a lot of good for dogs and their owners. That’s the big reason why I chose to have Janice and Leroy registered, in addition to being able to offer the option to anyone who purchased a puppy back when Janice and Leroy had a litter.

 

If you don’t want to register your dog but you still want to support what the AKC does, you can. They sell plenty of cool stuff, of surprisingly high quality, such as:

  • This anti-anxiety coat, which can be used to help dogs afraid of storms or fireworks, as well as just to provide aid for general anxiety.
  • This cooling dog pad, perfect for sporting events where it’s hot and your dog is on the move.

That’s really just the start, the AKC is behind a lot of other dog products, including a brand of dog food. So if this reason appeals to you as well, but you don’t want to register your dog, or they aren’t a purebred dog, you can still be a big help just by buying things you already would from the AKC brand.

The Argument Against Registration

Now, let’s talk a little about why registration isn’t always favored by many in the dog community.

I think a lot of dog lovers are a little offended by the way that registration is presented as a mark of quality. If you want proof, just look at the way that registered puppies cost three or four times the amount that non-registered pups of the same breed, tend to. To the uneducated buyer, this looks a lot like breeders are saying that a registration somehow means that one pup has better quality bloodlines or features than the other.

But the truth is that AKC registration does not have anything to do with quality. There’s no special registration that you can get for a dog that comes from a bloodline of show champions. If you send in the registration application with the name of your dog’s parents, who have to be registered themselves, you get in. It’s really that simple. So, no, AKC registration doesn’t mean anything when it comes to quality, and the fact that it’s presented that way does seem a bit disingenuous. Not to mention the price gauging is extreme and many breeders hate this practice because it’s harder for their business. If they sell their pups for less, it makes them appear to be selling a “lower quality” dog.

And if you wanted another reason that many dislike the AKC registration, you could also point out the fact that it’s pretty easy to lie on a registration application. If a dog breeder has a pair of Greyhounds, and the female accidentally gets bred by a Saluki, it would be easy enough for the breeder to lie and say the litter came from the Greyhounds. First, no one from the AKC comes out and does any kind of visual check that the pups live up to the AKC breed standards. Second, unless you are an extreme Greyhound fan, there’s probably not a great chance you’re going to see a half Saluki pup and realize it. The two breeds look a lot alike until they get older, and by that time, you might just think that your Greyhound has a charming quirk of shaggy ears – you may still never realize it’s due to the Saluki heritage. Then, if you breed that dog, thinking it’s a full Greyhound, the partial Saluki genes get passed on. So what it boils down to is that the AKC registration program doesn’t stop bloodlines from getting watered down by unscrupulous breeders – but the fact that you can charge a lot more for a registered puppy can actually make it more likely that mixed breed pups are being passed off as purebred.

Why It Matters for Buyers

Here’s why that price tag jump is somewhat understandable, and what it actually means for buyers. In order to have that registration, breeders do have to verify that they’ve done certain health checks on dogs, and they have to connect the puppy through public record to its ancestors. That means that you, as a potential owner, will have a much easier time seeing what types of health problems may exist in the family tree, and you know that the breeder actually did have certain AKC-required health checks.

Basically, this additional fee added to the cost of your puppy means that you are ensured that the dog has been screened for genetic diseases, and that you have a verified trail of evidence regarding family medical history.

Now, don’t forget that it’s easy enough to lie on these things if accidents happen. But how likely is it that a breeder’s dog will come into contact with another breed that looks just like it? There aren’t that many breeds that look so identical. So in most cases, you’ll be able to tell with a good look if a puppy appears to be a bit mixed, and sniff out any breeders that might be lying.

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The Final Word

So, now that we’ve gone through all that, we come back to your question: Should you register your puppy?

If you are a breeder, I don’t see why you wouldn’t. It not only allows you to get more money, it also means that you’ll weed out potential owners who aren’t completely serious about owning this dog, and it gives you a bit more credibility in the industry.

But as a person with a new pup, the question isn’t so easily answered. If you ever intend to breed, you’ll likely want to, and of course you’ll need to if you want to participate in any canine sporting events. But if you just wanted a family companion, the answer is up to you. If you do, you’ll get some neat perks and you can support a great organization that works for dogs. If you don’t, you really don’t miss out on much, and you have other ways to support the AKC if you want.

So at the end of the day, the answer isn’t as important as you may think. As long as you love your dog, it may not matter a whit to you if they are recorded in the history of their family tree. And that is A-OK.

Sources:

http://www.akc.org/public-education/why-register/

http://www.akc.org/content/dog-care/articles/why-register-your-dog-with-the-akc/

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/whyakc.html

About the Author Ash

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