How Does an AKC Breed Become an AKC Breed?

The average pet owner's most common misconception about the AKC concerns how new breeds are admitted. It’s assumed by many that the AKC has scouts beating the bushes looking for new talent, kind of like a major-league baseball team. Actually, the process is much the reverse: The AKC doesn’t go looking for breeds, the breeds come to the AKC.

The process of a breed’s admission to the AKC begins with a club of fanciers devoted to a non-AKC breed (often called a “rare breed” because the population of such breeds is usually small, at least in the United States). When a club involved in such breeds desires AKC recognition for their breed, they approach the AKC. The AKC will ask the club to submit an authoritative breed history that documents its existence for many decades. The club is also required to submit a written breed standard and photographs of several dogs and puppies of the breed. The AKC must be satisfied that the breed being put forth for recognition has for several generations been “breeding true”—that is, two dogs of the breed consistently produce offspring recognizable as that breed.

Often, a rare-breed club’s biggest hurdle on the long road to AKC recognition is creating and maintaining accurate pedigree and ownership records. That’s where the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS) comes into play. Once a breed is enrolled in the FSS, expert AKC staff will maintain its pedigrees, ownership records, and studbook. Many FSS breeds qualify to compete in AKC companion events such as agility, obedience, and rally. Others may qualify for field sports like herding and lure coursing.

OK, so far so good. The club has enrolled their breed in the FSS. The AKC is now maintaining their studbooks and records. If their goal is full recognition, the work now begins to reach the AKC ladder’s next rung: the Miscellaneous class. 

In the Miscellaneous class, rare breeds continue to compete in AKC companion and performance events, and they can compete in traditional dog shows but cannot earn championship points.

To be eligible for the Miscellaneous class and ultimate AKC recognition, certain criteria must be met. These include a demonstrated following and interest in the breed from a minimum of 100 households forming a national club devoted solely to the breed. The club must prove there is a sufficient U.S. population (a minimum of 300 to 400 dogs with three-generation pedigrees). The club must prove that it is truly national, with a geographic distribution of dogs and fanciers in at least 20 states. The club will also work to bring its breed standard and bylaws up to AKC specs.

There is no official quota or timetable for adding new breeds, but dogs typically reside in the Miscellaneous class for one to three years. At the end of the first year, AKC contacts the national breed club for updates on the number of dogs and litters recorded, and the number of dogs who have entered events since being eligible to compete in the Miscellaneous Class. Finally, the club must have held match shows, local and national breed specialty shows, judges’ workshops, and breed seminars.

When all criteria are met, the information is presented to the AKC board of directors for a vote on the breed’s full recognition. Once fully recognized a breed enters the AKC Stud Book, and is eligible for AKC registration and unrestricted participation in the AKC sports for which the breed qualifies. The rare-breed club that spent years steering their breed through the process becomes the AKC “parent club” for the breed, with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities that come with AKC membership.


Now that you know how your dog's breed got to be AKC-recognized, here's why you should register him

The AKC also loves mixed breeds! Learn more about our Canine Partners program for all dogs