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What exactly is a registered kennel name? The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not register kennels; that is something that is done by the city or county. Registered kennel names are also known as protected kennel names, which may be a better description of what a registered kennel name is. The AKC provides the option of registering a kennel name to help breeders protect their reputation and legacy. Registering a kennel name is very much like copyrighting that name for the breeder’s sole use in the naming of dogs of a particular breed. Owners of all dogs of that breed are required to get permission from the owner of the registered kennel to use the protected name. A registered kennel name is treated as an organization, and as such can be the registered owner of dogs and breeder of litters.

A Bit of History

The first publication of registered kennel names was in the January 1889 issue of the “AKC Gazette,” which listed names such as Blemton, Fordhook, Kilmarnock, and Maizeland. Most dogs of the day were registered with simple names, such as Spot, Don, or Rover, even if they were owned by a kennel. Tracing the first kennel name registered with the AKC has proven elusive.

The first official rule governing kennel names appeared in the Jan. 1, 1903 “Rules for the Government of Dog Shows,” which stated: “No entries can be made in a kennel name unless the name has been registered with the American Kennel Club. The partners in a kennel will be deemed equally culpable in the case of fraud perpetrated in their name.” On Feb. 14, 1934, the rules for registering and protecting kennel names were made more specific. The new rules stated that the AKC would not “protect any person against the use by any other person of any kennel or trade name as part of the name of a dog or in connection with the sale or showing of dogs unless the permission to use that kennel or trade name has first been obtained from the AKC.” The rule further stated that if the owners of a kennel name failed to register any dogs under that name for a period of six years, the ownership of the name would expire. Early kennel names, prior to 1934, were issued on a lifetime basis.

More rule changes were implemented in 1949, the most significant being the limiting of kennel name ownership to a five-year period, after which the owner had to apply for renewal. Until 2004, a kennel name was registered for all AKC-recognized breeds. In 2004, kennel names were issued on a breed-specific basis, opening up the availability of names. Kennel names granted prior to 2004 were grandfathered as all-breed names, as long as the owner maintained them as such. Once a kennel name lapsed or was converted to a breed-specific kennel name, the all-breed status was/is forever forfeited.

The most recent change, in 2017, was the removal of the restriction on using family names and names of cities as registered names.

Parent clubs can request the retirement of significant kennel names in their breed. We will research those requests, and if able, will retire the kennel names so they will not be available for any further use for that breed.

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Pros and Cons of Registered Kennel Names

Registering a kennel name protects the owner from unauthorized use of his or her kennel name, thus protecting the reputation of the breeding program and linage of dogs. This prevents confusion as to the bloodlines or breeding practices expected from a given kennel and the ill-intentioned use of another’s name to place dogs or gain favor for one’s lines. A name that includes a registered kennel name cannot be changed without the permission of the kennel name owner. Kennel names that are registered with the AKC are identified by the computer system as protected, requiring the verification of permission before a transaction can be completed. This currently prevents dogs from being able to be registered via the online dog registration system, so individual registration applications must be sent into the registration office to be processed. The applications (individual registration applications or one of the full litter forms) must be signed on the granting approval line, or the application will be denied, based on the name containing a protected name. The exception to online registration is that dogs bred by a registered kennel owner can use EZ-Reg online to register dogs with their kennel name to the new owners. The EZ-Reg application provides a means for kennel owners to grant permission for the use of the kennel name. Enhancements to the online registration system are being planned for the next year or two to facilitate online registration, including a registered kennel name approval (or permission) process to make it more convenient for both the breeder and the new owner.

AKC policy requires that we register imported dogs with the same name that is on the foreign registration papers. Owners of a kennel name may add their registered kennel name to the end of the name of an imported dog’s name (with an appropriate preposition if desired). This is the only exception to the foreign registration policy.

Kennel names are defined as an organization that can own dogs and litters, meaning that dogs may be registered to the kennel name, listing only the kennel or the kennel and co-owners as owners and/or breeders of dogs. If a kennel owner retires from breeding and wishes to pass on his or her kennel name to a protégé or partner, there is a process to transfer ownership to qualified individuals. It can also be willed or inherited. The new owner must meet the requirements to own a kennel name prior to the next renewal cycle.

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Requirements

To register a kennel name, the applicant must have a history of participation in AKC events in the breed and have applied for and registered 5 AKC litters of that breed in the past 5 years, or, at a minimum, 1 AKC litter in the past 5 years to be eligible for a registered kennel name on a provisional approval. The name to be registered can be up to 2 words and a maximum of 15 characters, including any space or punctuation. The name must be essentially unique to the requester. AKC will research records for the preceding 10 years to identify all usage of the requested name and whether that usage is attributable to the requester. In determining this, we take into account whether the requester is related to the dogs as an owner, breeder, sire owner, or appears in the chain of title of the dog or the sire/dam. If unrelated individuals use a name more than incidentally, the name will be deemed common or unavailable and cannot be granted for exclusive use.

The registered kennel name application is available for download and states the requirements on the first page. Applications are processed in the month received and notification of approved kennel names is sent out at the end of the month. Approved kennel names will then be published in the next available issue of the online “AKC Gazette.” This publication is the public notice for approved and granted kennel names. After 60 days, an approved kennel name will be published as granted, if no substantiated objections or proof of infringement is received. Granted kennel names are entered into the system and protected from unauthorized use from that point forward until a kennel name either lapses or is revoked (by the owner or AKC). Registered kennel names must be renewed every five years. After six years, a kennel name that is not renewed is considered abandoned and must be reapplied for if the owner wishes to re-register. Each breed on an application for multiple breeds will be researched and approved independently.

When a new kennel name is granted in the system, we automatically protect the name as entered, as well as in the possessive, plural, and plural possessive forms for the name.

Summary

Registering your kennel name can protect your hard-earned reputation and eliminate the possibility of others using your name to promote their own ends. The registered kennel name protects the owner from having the name of dogs that bear his or her kennel name from being changed without permission. When importing dogs, they can be identified with the importing kennel, if the kennel name is registered.

For more information please click here or send questions to kennelnames@akc.org.