AKC Launches New Program Promoting Breeder Education and Health Checks

The American Kennel Club will help breeders be more successful with the start of a new program that makes available on-line educational materials and marketing support for participants.

AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T stands for Health, Education, Accountability, Responsibility, and Tradition. Preparing breeders to produce healthy, excellent examples of their breeds is the program’s goal.

The Bred with H.E.A.R.T. website features the latest information in genetics, breeding practices, and anatomy. Breeders have the great opportunity to take online courses by renowned breeder Claudia Orlandi Ph.D., who shared her two books, ABC’s of Dog Breeding and Practical Canine Anatomy & Movement.

Orlandi’s incredible career in purebred dogs includes breeding some of the top Basset Hounds in the country with her late husband, Dom Orlandi, under the Topsfield kennel prefix. She has been honored as the AKC Breeder of the Year; she is a judge and former chairman of the Breeders/Judges Education Committee for the Basset Hound Club of America. She often travels the country, sharing her vast knowledge of breeding as a speaker at seminars and symposiums.

“Knowledge is power in all phases of our lives!” Orlandi said. “The more a breeder knows about the science of breeding healthy dogs the more they can control canine genetic diseases in their breeding programs.”

All breeders can study the material in Orlandi’s books at no charge on the AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T. website. They also can opt to be tested on the materials and receive a course completion certificate upon passing the examinations.

The AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T. website will include other educational material to help breeders, including those just getting started. Courses include Breeding Basics and Care & Feeding of the Breeding Bitch.

The program strongly promotes responsible breeding through health testing. The site will include a list of all Parent Club recommendations for health testing for their given breeds.

“What I like about the Bred with H.E.A.R.T program is that it gives breeders a path to follow and motivates and helps them chart a course towards an improved breeding program with an emphasis on good health,” Orlandi said. “I also feel it encourages breeders to share thoughts and talk more openly about health problems, which is absolutely critical to good breeding.”

Breeders can choose to enroll and become an AKC Bred with H.E.A.R.T. breeder if they meet the requirements of having registered at least one litter with AKC within the past five years and being in good standing with AKC. They also must agree to the following:

  • Certify that applicable health screens are performed on breeding stock as recommended by the respective AKC Parent Club and be prepared to supply proof of such compliance upon request
  • Comply with the AKC Care and Conditions Policy, including inspection(s) by the American Kennel Club or its duly authorized representative
  • Comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the ownership and maintenance of dogs
  • Complete AKC-approved and/or AKC-provided continuing breeder education courses annually
  • Complete the online application process and pay an annual fee of $25 per breed

The AKC rewards breeders who take the pledge with benefits including use of the Bred with H.E.A.R.T. program logo on AKC dog registration applications; breed-specific web banners for the breeder’s website; search result preference in AKC On-Line Breeder Classifieds; $5 litter registration coupon; discounted microchips; and $35 in annual credit for online reports.

But the best benefit is the access to the priceless information on breeding, anatomy, and genetics found in Orlandi’s books. The books break down the complex topics into easy-to-understand language with illustrations and photographs.

“Several years ago I had a conversation with the late great George Padgett, author of Control of Canine Genetic Diseases, in which we were discussing…the importance of keeping things simple in terms of breeder education, and he said, ‘Claudia, if breeders only knew that by applying a few important, easy-to-understand genetic principles they could have a lot more control over not only conformation but also diseases in their breeding programs,'" Orlandi said.

“These simple, important genetic principles as well as key anatomy features for developing an eye for a dog, are the points of departure in the ABC’s of Dog Breeding and Practical Canine Anatomy & Movement education programs. By understanding and applying these straight forward scientific concepts, my hope is that breeders participating in the Bred with H.E.A.R.T education program will be able to more consistently produce healthy and happier dogs.”