Question of the Week
My feeling is that the AKC is probably bringing too many breeds into the fold. Some of these breeds have standards that are vague enough in print that you can hardly picture what the dog looks like. And then there is the problem of inconsistency of specimens. The breed standard may be clear, but the dogs that walk into the ring are all over the place.
In defense of the AKC, the organization has a set of hoops each breed has to jump through. Making it easier or harder for a breed to become recognized by the AKC would lead to legal problems. And it is true that a number of breeds have achieved better quality and more consistency after being AKC recognized for a decade or two.
So while I feel that there are some breeds that the AKC should not be recognizing for various reasons, I don’t see a viable solution to this situation.
Garden City, Iowa
On the contrary: The AKC is not recognizing enough additional breeds. Despite being "new" to AKC, many of the breeds in Miscellaneous/FSS are hundreds or even thousands of years old. A common misstep among dog fanciers is when newly added AKC breeds are viewed the same as "designer" mixes. In reality, our Miscellaneous/FSS breeds may be older and have more history than the fully recognized AKC breed sitting on your sofa.
Monroe, New York
The AKC is quickly bringing a lot of new breeds. The good thing is that we will eventually be able to pre-judge the groups like in Europe and Scandinavia. It will make the groups move much, much faster.
Piedmont, South Carolina
Yes, AKC is recognizing too many breeds!
The groups are becoming more and more time consuming, judges are judging breeds they've never had time to get familiar with, and I think it encourages the public to think that just about anything can be a "breed." (Enter the doodles ... ) This is all in the interest of enlarging AKC's bank account.
The delegates need to get serious about realigning the groups, to start with. And until that is done, there should be a moratorium on full recognition for any more breeds.
As a breeder/exhibitor of English Springer Spaniels and Smooth Fox Terriers for more than 20 years, I can say without a doubt that AKC has approved too many breeds.
The problems don’t arise in the breed ring, but they certainly do in the group rings.
For example, the Sporting Group has grown so large that the breeds literally fill the entire ring perimeter, and that’s with each dog and its handler packed behind each other tight as a drum. This creates difficulty to properly stack and display your dog to the judge.
Let’s also consider the fact that there are only four possible group placements. With more than 30 Sporting breeds competing for four rosettes, how can the judge fairly choose the best in that group? Add to that that there are three varieties in one breed: Cocker Spaniels. Many times, two from that breed snag a group placement. That raises the odds of other breeds not placing exponentially.
AKC is well aware of this conundrum and had discussed adding six group placements and splitting up some of these larger groups, thus creating, for example, a setter/pointer group and a spaniel /retriever group.
Sadly, this never came to fruition. It was also met with pushback from clubs that complained it would mean hiring more judges and that the shows would take longer with more groups to judge.
St. Stephens Church, Virginia
The simple answer is yes, both for the judges learning the breed and show chairmen putting on shows.
My opinion is for AKC to put a moratorium on approving new breeds until they come up with a process to reduce the overwhelming number of dogs in one group, giving exhibitors more opportunity to get a group placement with a worthy dog and to do it all with the support of the clubs sponsoring these shows.
Of course, you will never get 100 percent buy-in from everyone. A good example of this is the pushback by both clubs and professional handlers for the NOHS and BPUP programs — both of which have become enormously popular and successful events at shows.
Too many long-timers and professionals block changes like this because it just might cut into their comfort zones.
By reducing the group sizes, you will also give more opportunity to exhibitors who are not professional handlers to get a group win or placement.
Many exhibitors have gone home after winning breed, as they feel it’s a waste of time to stay for groups since it’s mostly predictable who will walk away with the prize.
While we cannot solve all the issues that plague the dog-show fancy — and there are MANY — AKC can at least stop adding new breeds until it gets some sort of resolution to the crowding problem that grows bigger year by year.
It’s time for real change, don’t you think?
Camille McArdle, DVM
I think it is sad when breeds are given full AKC recognition and then you never see entries at the shows. There were only FOUR entries at the Chinook national specialty this past December. At the national specialty! What is the point of full AKC recognition if there is no participation at events? Isn’t one point of dog shows to introduce breeds to the general public? I believe that new breeds should stay in Miscellaneous until they have built up a robust registered population, rather than just a few hundred mostly older neutered pets. And all-breed shows should be incentivized by AKC to always add Open shows to their events.
With so many new breeds, they become less special.
Depends on the answer to the questions: Is it healthy? Can it breed and whelp naturally? Is it easy to live with? Does it serve a purpose to man?
At the rate pure breeds are being mixed together to make money by unscrupulous people, there are already too many crazy concoctions.
Brookville, New York
I would think the new breeds being admitted to the AKC are thrilled. I really don’t know the requirements of accepting new breeds into the AKC registry, but I do know that in the early 1970s the requirements were tough. Those of us who fell in love with the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier were at all the shows we could get to in order to exhibit the Wheaten in the AKC Miscellaneous Class. We also collected and kept track of all monies required by AKC for the ILP (Indefinite Listing Privilege). We had to fulfill these requirements, especially proving we had the “numbers” needed to gain acceptance. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of Metropolitan NY held meetings inviting Terrier handlers such as the late Bob Clyde and Jack Simm to give us a clear understanding of structure. Peter Green stepped into the picture in the Philadelphia area, helping the breeders and owners define the outline of the Wheaten. Many Wheaten owners and breeders continued to scream, “We want Wheatens naturally,” but thankfully the trimmed Wheaten won out. In 1973 the breed was admitted to full AKC registration. From the beginning the breed packed the ring in most areas of the country. I went on to owning, breeding and exhibiting Norfolk Terriers that same year. My heart still stops by the Wheaten ring just to see how it has advanced. The new breeds AKC has accepted I would hope have had to fulfill stringent requirements as the Wheatens did back in the day.
Port St. Lucie, Florida
For a long time, the AKC has added one or more new breeds every year. I have always had my own thoughts as to why we want so many breeds. With some noted exceptions, most of the new breeds come from those with limited entries. My opinion of a long-term goal: If, at some time, the AKC has every FCI breed under its umbrella, they could then hold the AKC’s own version of the World Dog Show. Even after careful consideration I don’t know if anyone could estimate the money from such an event. The media abilities in the U.S. would have a blitzkrieg of activity. We have all seen the success and environment of the AKC National in Orlando. An incredible venue. A World Dog Show would be exponentially greater. In conversations I have had with some AKC individuals, my idea has been denied. I don’t see how they could (or would) turn their back on this financial bonanza.
Charleston, South Carolina
Enough is enough already!
Las Vegas, Nevada
Yes, I do think that the AKC is recognizing too many new breeds. For instance, the Basset Fauve de Bretagne, Czechoslovakian Vlcak and the Pyrenean Mastiff are the latest. The Basset Fauve de Bretagne will go into the Miscellaneous Class effective June 28, 2023. It was eligible for recording in the Foundation Stock Service (FSS) in 2015. It sounds like it would be designated as a new Hound Group member once it gets out of the Miscellaneous Class. The Czechoslovakian Vlcak just got a parent club, and they will be allowed to hold FSS open shows most likely. The same goes for the Pyrenean Mastiff. Will we ever see any of these new breeds even in Miscellaneous? Most likely not.
I know breeds have to go through the process to get full recognition from the AKC and allowed to be able to be shown in the regular classes at dog shows. But now we have people in the delegate body who want to divide the groups again. Hold off on approving new breeds until we can at least see some of the ones the AKC has approved already from the Miscellaneous Class. I would dare not say that maybe registration income would have anything to do with this. Perish that from your thoughts!
If these breeds are already recognized by FCI, and have a constituency here in the States, it’s only fair to let them compete. And when they do come in, their breed type and special attributes need to be respected and preserved.
I can see both sides of this question. Of course, there are way too many breeds, but many of the “new” breeds have in fact much higher registration totals and bigger entries than the old, established breeds of similar type.
But frankly it’s getting almost ridiculous. I compared the figures in my Westminster catalogs. In 1992, if I have counted right, there were 144 breeds or varieties, in 2002 a total of 159, in 2012 there were 183, and at last year’s show 208 … So an average of two or three “new" breeds per year for the last 20 years!
Of course, this is still very restrained compared to FCI, which apparently has recognized 356 breeds on a definite basis, with another dozen on the way, and e.g. Poodles and Dachshunds are counted as single breeds or varieties, in spite of varieties of different sizes and/or coats, which means that they probably have twice as many breeds/varieties as AKC does.
Do we need all these breeds? No, of course not: Sometimes it seems that they are given different names and standards based on which side of an arbitrary national border they are born on. But who’s going to stop them?