November 2013 Chairman’s Report

-- Advancing Our Sport--

New York, NY – This year we celebrate the 129th anniversary of the American Kennel Club. Today, as it has been throughout those years, our beliefs and traditions continue to guide us in our sport, while innovation continues to advance us. We began the year with the spirit of relentless positive action in search of new ideas to advance our sport - a spirit shared by the Board, Staff, Delegate Committees, and the Delegate Body. Working together, we have evaluated scores of new programs and implemented dozens across Conformation, Companion, and Performance events in our quest to continuously increase participation and assist clubs. The following is a sampling of those innovations impacting our sport - some already in place, some coming before the end of the year, some starting next year:

  • Scheduled the inaugural AKC National Owner-Handled Series Finals in Orlando in December
  • Expanded the AKC National Owner-Handled Series to specialty and group shows
  • Evaluating testing all-breed and group clubs meeting certain criteria to hold two shows in one day
  • Added to both the number of Executive Field Representatives as well as staff in the Event Department to better serve exhibitors, clubs and judges
  • Offered the option for clubs to award a three-point major to the Reserve Winners at National Specialties
  • Created levels of the Certificate of Merit to encourage dogs to continue to compete
  • Evaluating adding the Bred-by-Exhibitor Class to Miscellaneous
  • Added CGC as a title program
  • Launched advanced CGC Community Canine program
  • Added new "Pre" classes for Obedience (Pre-Novice, Pre-Open, and Pre-Utility)
  • Approved AKC Rally National Championship launching in Pennsylvania in April 2014
  • Removed restrictions on Rally to allow any club to hold Rally whenever they desired
  • Permitted clubs to hold Rally events without also having to offer Obedience
  • Approved the offering of two Agility Trials in a day by Specialty clubs
  • Modified mileage restrictions to allow Agility events within 100 miles of each other with the agreement of both clubs
  • Upgraded Online Entries system to better serve Agility competitors and Trial Secretaries
  • Held Agility Advisory Committee - first recommendations for administrative improvements will be effective 1/1/14 with others to follow
  • Approved allowing Canine Partners to participate in Tracking at the club's option effective 1/1/14
  • Added new Tracking test (Tracking Dog Urban) to Tracking program effective 1/1/14
  • Implemented Online Plans and Results tool for clubs offering Coursing Ability Tests
  • Added Retriever Hunting Test Lifetime Achievement title effective 1/1/14
  • Added new Grand Field Champion titles earned in Pointing Breed field trials starting 1/1/14
  • Added three new breeds participating in Performance events
  • Increased the number of titles AKC displays on a dog's record and on printed documents (extended Dog Title Name)
  • Recognized Barn Hunt titles
  • Implemented program to recognize Wilderness Search & Rescue dogs
  • Expanded number of clubs holding My Dog Can Do That
  • Changed all sport Rules/Regulations to allow clubs to offer lower entry fees for Junior Handlers at the club's discretion
  • Approved allowing premium lists and judging programs to be delivered solely by email
  • Modified policy on combined catalogs to support national specialties and clusters
  • Implemented Standing Board approval of common special attractions
  • Added asterisk to designate Delegate Judges in the Online Judges Directory
  • Expanded the type of clubs eligible to participate in the Club Outreach program
  • Welcomed Agility clubs to apply to become member clubs

Of all the innovations we have reviewed and implemented, the one that has the greatest potential for the future of our events is marketing. The issues impacting our events today have been clearly identified and discussed. They can be collected into three categories - societal, economic, and legislative. While the apparent reasons are simple to discover, the solutions are significantly more complex. It will take very sophisticated marketing to achieve our goal of bringing more participants to our events and more members to our clubs. We are not only up for addressing it, we are capable of delivering it.

Our headroom for growth is significantly larger than anyone might have imagined. Currently, there are about 350,000 people living in households with some active involvement with the AKC. What is our headroom for growth? Amazingly, there are about 100 million people with at least one dog in their home, roughly half with a purebred dog. Our research indicates the majority shares our beliefs and know and respect our brand - but really do not know we have something for them and their dog to participate in, learn from, or just enjoy together.

The AKC Board and Staff are taking a number of steps to address this opportunity. We continue to grow our communications web with almost one million fans on Facebook and two million unique visitors per month to our website. Obviously, we are already reaching significantly beyond our 350,000 constituents to people who share our beliefs. Since people read, share, and engage more with information when it is presented by people they know and trust, we have the opportunity to introduce them to our sport. Staff is currently creating marketing programs to stimulate event participation utilizing a variety of communication assets. Although we already possess significant consumer research, we continue to conduct studies to learn from participants and potential participants. In addition, the Board is developing a new strategic plan to specifically address the next three years.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management once wrote, "The purpose of a business is to generate new customers, and only two functions do that - innovation and marketing. All other business functions are expenses." I believe strongly in that thought. I also believe that innovation and marketing are too important to be the province of a few. The McDonald's Happy Meal, invented by a franchisee, is just one famous example of brilliant innovation and marketing coming from outside the corporate office. I encourage all of you to share your thoughts about ways to improve our events. Please send your comments to me at, Doug Ljungren at, and Chris Walker at


Thank you.


Alan Kalter