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AKC Library & Archives

125 Years of Sport

On 17 September 1884, ten men gathered in Philadelphia to create a national organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. They exuded virtuous ideals — integrity, continuity and commitment. Since then these ideals have become the core values of the AKC for the past 125 years.



A witness to one of the most perilous periods in American history, Major James Taylor saw first-hand how dysfunctional dog shows had become; he felt compelled to correct this and ultimately lay the groundwork for the AKC. His values, integrity, continuity and commitment, have transcended his life and have become the core values of the American Kennel Club for the past 125 years.


The Constitution and Dog Show Rules are created. 1884 Constitution

In 1885 the Constitution and Dog Show Rules are published for distribution:

  • Section one contains the Constitution, which described the objects of the organization.
  • Section two contains the Bylaws, which outlined the agenda for meetings and procedures for carrying out objects of the Constitution.
  • Section three contains the dog show rules and regulations.


Dr. Nicholas Rowe, President of The National American Kennel Club — a field trial organization — issued his organization’s first Stud Book in 1879. In 1886, Rowe published his third volume and offers it to the AKC. Dogs registration is required to compete in shows.


Dog Show Rules stipulate that veterinarians must be present at all dog shows.


Exhibitors can sell and buy dogs entered in the Selling Class. By 1894 it ends.


August Belmont, Jr. underwrites the cost of the AKC Gazette with $5,000. The publication began as the primary source for dog related information. Today, the award winning publication is still one of the primary resources for the dog world. AKC Gazette.


The AKC celebrates its 10th anniversary at Delmonico’s restaurant. Toasts were given by August Belmont on the sport’s popularity. Major James M. Taylor also offers a toast and calls the invited press “The instructor of the people.”


Clubs required to submit an application for show dates along with a $25 fee. The club forfeits the fee if the show is cancelled.


The office relocates from 44 Broadway to 55 Liberty Street.


A motion is made to purchase the AKC seal, however it wasn’t until c. 1908 that it is used on items such as champion medals.


The Pacific Advisory Committee is created to govern all west coast dog shows.


A point system is instituted to value the winners’ classes. It was based on the number of dogs entered.

  • 1,000 dogs or over, 5 points
  • 750 dogs and under 1,000, 4 points
  • 500 dogs and under 750, 3 points
  • 250 dogs and under 500, 2 points
  • Under 250 dogs, 1 point

Pacific coast dog shows had a separate point system.

  • 400 dogs or over, 5 points
  • 300 dogs and under 400, four points
  • 200 dogs and under 300, 3 points
  • Under 100 dogs, 1 point


The AKC celebrates its twenty-first anniversary with a luncheon at the office.


The Board of Directors is established with 30 members.


The AKC is incorporated.


The AKC moves to 1 Liberty Street.


In the early 1910s, judges are loosely regulated and required to be in ‘good standing’ with the AKC. By 1917, they must be licensed.


By the 1910s and 1920s the AKC’s original commitment to continuity in dog shows is being evidenced by its work regulating catalogs, premium list and ribbons, which to this day are staples of the modern day dog show. Some important rules pertaining to these items are: Catalogs must not exceed 6 x 9 inches and not less than 5 x 8 inches. They must contain information such as, the dog’s name, its owner and registration number. Premium lists must contain several pieces of information including recognized breeds, club officers, judges and show officials. Ribbons must comply with a uniform set of standards including, measurements, colors, and they must bear the AKC seal.


The office moves to 221 4th Avenue.

1923 – 1924

Dogs are divided into five functional groups.


The AKC conducts its first dog show as part of the nation’s sesquicentennial (1776-1926). A Sealyham Terrier, Ch. Pinegrade Perfection, handled by Percy Roberts takes top dog.


The AKC publishes its first, Pure-Bred Dogs. It is re-named The Complete Dog Book in 1938.


Handlers must be licensed.


The Children’s Handlers Class is created.


The AKC Celebrates it 50th anniversary with a special luncheon. All fifty-eight delegates receive a souvenir silver cigarette case.


The AKC registers its one millionth dog.


With the United States entering World War II, rations are mandated. Consequently, the Gazette’s size is reduced from 9 x 12 inches to 6 x 9 inches.


The AKC issues its first directory of licensed judges.


Three and four day dog shows are eliminated. The Bred-by-Exhibitor Class is created.


The Children’s Handlers Class is renamed Junior Showmanship Class.


The AKC registers its five millionth dog, Lassie The Golden Glory.


The AKC moves to 51 Madison Avenue.


The AKC registers its ten millionth dog.


The Junior Showmanship Class is officially recognized and regulated by the AKC.


The AKC Constitution and Bylaws are revised to include women as delegates.


The practice of licensing handlers ends.


The AKC registers its 25 millionth dog, Belgair’s Duke of Rock Hill, a Scottish Terrier.


The AKC establishes the Dog Museum of America at the New York Headquarters. In 1987 it relocates to the Jarville House in St. Louis. In 1989 it is remodeled and expanded; it re-opens in 1990.


The AKC celebrates its Centennial with a dog show in Philadelphia. Judge William Kendrick chooses Manhattan, a German Shepherd Dog, handled by Jim Moses, as Best in Show.


The AKC National Invitational Dog Show is held. Best in Show goes to Ch. Black Watch Sophie, a Lakeland Terrier.


The AKC moves to its current location at 260 Madison Avenue.


Lifetime Achievement Awards is created. The 2009 recipients include Wendell J. Sammet, Kenneth A. Buxton and Mary Jo Trimble.


AKC Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE) created to honor heroic, search and rescue, service and therapy dogs whom have exemplified excellence and improved the lives of humans.


The first AKC/Eukanuba American Dog Classic is held. In 2002 the show is re-named the AKC/Eukanuba National Invitational Championship.


DOGNY, a public art exhibit and fundraiser, is created to benefit search and rescue dogs.


The first Breeder of the Year is awarded to Wendell J. Sammet.


The AKC creates the Registered Handlers Program. By 2008 there are 137 licensed handlers.


The AKC/Eukanuba National Championship is held.


The AKC continues its tradition with the annual AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Watch the show on 31st January 2009 on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel.

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A Celebration of Dogs

The Dog’s Affection, By Philip Gilbert Hamerton

We know ourselves to be such lamentably imperfect characters that we long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment. Women move in us their own exalted ideals, and live up to the ideal standard is sometimes rather more than we are altogether able to manage; children in their teens find out how clumsy and ignorant we are, and do not quite unreservedly respect us; but our dogs adore us without a suspicion of our shortcomings.
Forest and Stream, 28 July 1881

The Music of the Hounds, author unknown

Heavens? What melodious strains?
How beat our hearts
Big with tumultuous joy! The loaded gales
Breathe harmony.

The maple leaves are blushing.
And the oak a marvel is;
The withered leaves are crushing
‘Neath the haro’s fleet feet, I wis.
The yellow of the birchen tree
Reflects the westering sum,
And the squirrel, in the bickory,
Seems full of food and fun.

The sumac flaunts its pennon,
Where the golden-rod hath died,
And the astor’s eye is bent on
The gentian’s purple pride;
The scream of the jay, like clarion,
Rings boldly on the air,
Like a fierce, freebooting baron,
Raiding the monks at prayer.

Now is the time, if ever,
For the wood-land-ways to sound
With the music of the clever
And keen-scented beagle hound.
The joy hath shrieked defiance,
The hare hath left his “form”-
Even the young may learn reliance
When the scent of “puss” lies “warm.”

O, what tumult ‘mid the bracken,
O, what music in the air,
See them quarter and then slacken,
And, in full cry, follow fair.
Like a knot of jewels rampant,
See the pack, through copse and plain,
Over gem-like leaves triumphant,
Bearing to the coup-de-main.

O, what music meets the ear,
What the beagle giveth tongue;
Silver trumpet not more clear,
Sweater never beauty sung.
Hark? All nature seems to listen,
And the leaflets hush their fall,
As their lithe forms, chasing, glisten,
As their voices, echoing, call.
Forest and Stream, 2 November 1882

Yankee, by Jerome Burnett

Concerning dogs – you ought to know
The pointer we call Yankee;
He’s smart and sharp and full of “go,”
And never dull nor cranky.

Bring forth the gun, he leaps to life
In all his proud elation;
He’s eager for the joyous strife,
The soul of animation.

Say but the word, he’s with you,
Whatever the wind or weather,
He’ll take the field and work it through,
And never miss a feather.

And when he strikes the subtle trail,
You’ll watch him every minute,
His action shows he cannot fall,
Because his soul is in it.

Then when the steady point is made,
The climax he intended,
No workmen better knows his trade-
‘Tis art and nature blended.

The rigid form, the foot upraised,
The breast that’s gently swelling,
The beaming eye so often praised,
Of rarest sport are telling.

A picture tis, here rudely done,
Of wondrous combination,
A pose of grace that ever has won
Out greatest admiration.

It tells of one that’s true and tried,
As friend we have no dearer;
Whatever may come, whatever betide,
No love can be sincerer.

He’s taught us much that men receive
Their doubt with faith to leaven,
For knowing him we can believe
That good dogs go to heaven
Forest and Stream, 5 January 1882

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