Judging Conflict of Interest Policy FAQs

Judging Conflict of Interest Policy No AKC judge may have a significant interest in a dog...

Judging Conflict of Interest Policy

No AKC judge may have a significant interest in a dog registry or dog event-giving organization deemed by the AKC Board to be in competition with the American Kennel Club. Significant interest would include, but not be limited to ownership of, employment by, a directorship in, and holding office in.

Any AKC-approved judge, who shall judge a purebred dog event in the U.S. not in accordance with the rules of AKC, which apply to such purebred dog events without the express permission of the AKC, may be disciplined even to the extent of having his or her AKC judging approval revoked.

An AKC-approved judge may judge breeds that are not AKC registrable and/or that they have not been approved for by AKC at non-AKC events. The AKC Board has also given permission for the judging of certain other events based upon the following criteria:

  1. AKC has no comparable events in place.

  2. While AKC has a program in place, AKC judges have officiated at events under the aegis of the other organization for years before the AKC program was initiated.

  3. The type of event is not or would not be perceived as being contrary to the best interest of AKC and the sport of purebred dogs.

  4. The event is a breed or type of breed-specific performance activity.


No AKC approval is needed to judge versatility or performance activities developed by AKC Parent Clubs and sponsored by such clubs.

Events held by the following organizations meet the above criteria, and AKC-approved judges may continue to judge them:

  • American Sighthound Field Association Coursing Events

  • American Working Terrier Association Earthdog Events

  • American Herding Breed Association Events

  • North American Hunting Retriever Association (NAHRA)

  • North American Versatility Dog Association Pointing Breed Hunting Tests

  • American Field Pointing Breed Field Trials

  • United Kennel Club Coonhound Events

  • Professional Kennel Club Coonhound Events

  • Any of the various organizations sponsoring Agility Trials


Other activities may be added to this list at the discretion of the AKC Board.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why did AKC adopt this policy?

A: AKC believes that its judges are among the best in the world. Among Conformation, Performance, and Companion events, AKC spends millions of dollars every year to educate, train, and approve judges to ensure that this is the case. This encompasses things like processing applications, testing, interviews, observations, recording assignments, communications, education, and even liability insurance.

When individuals apply for and are granted approval as AKC judges, they are granted a certain status in the Sport, which is recognized both nationally and internationally. In fact, many overseas registries will not approve individuals from the United States to judge their events, unless they are AKC-approved judges. In return for this status as AKC judges, AKC believes that they in return have a special responsibility to AKC and the Sport as governed by AKC. AKC does not object to other organizations sponsoring events in conflict with AKC events, but does object to AKC-approved judges giving those events the credibility that comes with using AKC-approved judges. This would not be in the best interest of either AKC or its licensed and member clubs.


Q: How does this effect judging rare breed events?

A: The policy specifically excludes breeds that AKC does not register. It also excludes breeds that an individual is not yet eligible to judge.


Q: Why are certain events excluded from the policy, while others, e.g., Obedience and Tracking, are not?

A: There are some types of Performance events that AKC does not sponsor. There is no objection to anyone judging these events. There are also some activities, which other organizations may have been sponsoring long before AKC became involved. In some cases, the initial pool of AKC judges may have come from those organizations. In these cases, those events have been excluded from the policy.


Q: Why are some organizations included in the list, while others are not?

A: The list of events excluded from the Judging Conflict of Interest Policy, was prepared based upon input from the AKC Performance division. The initial list is subject to review and revision at the discretion of the AKC Board, and others may be added to the list in the future. Inquiries on this may be directed to the AKC Performance Department.


Q: Why are the exemptions limited to Performance Events, and why aren't Conformation, Obedience and Tracking included?

A: The exemptions are limited to areas where other organizations predated AKC involvement in the activity. Conformation Events (AKC has sponsored since 1884) as well as Obedience/Tracking (AKC has sponsored since 1936) would not fall into this category.


Q: The policy refers to being able to obtain "the express permission of the AKC" to judge these events. What is the procedure for that?

A: Any exceptions to this AKC Board policy may only be granted by the AKC Board. The Board has already granted general permission for AKC judges to judge a number of non-AKC events. These exceptions are incorporated into the policy. Inquiries concerning the procedure for obtaining an exception for a specific competition, e.g. a tournament sponsored by a dog food company, dog magazine, etc., may be directed to the Judges Department.


Q: May an AKC Judge approved for one type of event, judge different types of events given by other organizations?

A: Yes. This policy is specific to the individual's approved judging status with AKC. For example if an individual has AKC approval for Obedience only, he or she would be able to judge any type of event other than Obedience at non-AKC events.


Q: What right does AKC have to prevent judges from judging anywhere and anything they wish?

A: Competition is a fact of life. There is nothing that AKC would or could do to eliminate it. However, there is no requirement that AKC actually support such competition.

There are numerous organizations in the United States that register dogs and/or conduct dog events in competition with AKC. The conflict affects all facets of the Sport, some which AKC has the ability to directly confront, and some which it does not.


AKC maintains what it considers to be the premier purebred dog registry in the United States. AKC is the only registry with a comprehensive inspection program, an automatic check when DNA profiles are received against all previously profiled dogs, and an enforced care and conditions policy. AKC is selective in determining which pedigrees it will accept from other registries. All other registries take advantage of AKC's efforts by accepting AKC pedigrees for the registration of dogs. In some cases, these organizations even waive registration fees for these dogs in order to obtain AKC breeding stock. This is something AKC could not prevent. Because of concerns for the integrity of its own registry, AKC must be much more careful about the registries it accepts and cannot therefore always respond in kind.


Many AKC exhibitors participate in and support events held by different registries. While these events may cause harm to AKC clubs by reducing their entry, AKC does not approve or license exhibitors and they are therefore free to compete in any event they choose.


No club has a right to hold AKC events. Rather AKC grants a club event-giving privileges, contingent upon that club following all AKC rules, regulations and policies. AKC Bylaws do prohibit AKC clubs from holding non-AKC events without the specific permission of AKC. A number of activities have been exempted from this prohibition in the Bylaws. They primarily consist of Performance Events, which were sponsored by other organizations before AKC developed its own programs in those areas. The full policy is part of AKC's Online Policy Manual.


AKC does not prevent judges from judging anywhere and anything they wish. AKC is simply not willing to support training, testing, evaluating, and keeping records for judges that will use this experience to benefit competing organizations. Judges are free to chose to judge for these organizations if they prefer that organization to AKC.


Q: How does judging the events of specialty registries harm or conflict with AKC events?

A: AKC breed Parent Clubs have a very unique and critical role within the Sport of purebred dogs as governed by AKC. They write and own the standard that precisely defines the standard of excellence for which a breed is to be bred and by which it is to be judged. When judging in the United States, AKC-approved judges should only be applying that standard. An AKC judge awarding placements in the United States based upon a standard other that that endorsed by the AKC breed Parent Club, in many cases to dogs that are also AKC registered, would be in conflict with the objects and interest of both the AKC breed Parent Club and the AKC. If standards, on the other hand, are so similar as to be practically identical as opposed to describing significantly different dogs, judging these specialty events would appear to be supporting events in conflict with AKC events, just for the sake of supporting them.

There are a number of cases where AKC admitted new breeds in spite of significant opposition by proponents of those breeds. In some cases, accreditation involved AKC working with a breed club that sought AKC registration, while another club opposed it, seeking to remain independent, which was it prerogative.

AKC believes that it has an obligation, as do its approved judges, to fully and exclusively support the club that is the AKC Parent Club. AKC respects the right of any other club to remain independent and to maintain its own registry. However, AKC has no obligation to actively support such organizations by having its approved judges officiate at their events. It is also under no obligation to approve as judges those individuals who wish to maintain a significant interest, as defined by the policy, in organizations that wish to remain independent from and in competition with the AKC breed Parent Club.