Registered Kennel Names


The American Kennel Club offers breeders the Registered Kennel Name Program to protect the use of their kennel's name in the naming of AKC registered dogs. The use of a registered kennel name allows breeders to name dogs of their breeding in an identifiable manner creating a prominent familial foundation in the breed.


  1. Be a breeder in good standing with the American Kennel Club with a record of breeding and registering purebred dogs in conformity with AKC registration rules and policies.

  2. Have a documented background of involvement/participation in AKC events. You must complete Event Participation Worksheet listing dogs by AKC name and registration number.

  3. Meet at least one of the following breeding requirements:

    1. Bred at least 5 registered litters in the past 5 years;

    2. Owned stud dogs that have produced at least 40 registered litters in the past 10 years.

    3. A breeder, who has bred at least one AKC registered litter, may be granted a registered kennel name on a five-year provisional basis. The breeding requirements above must be met during the five-year period to be eligible to renew the registered kennel name.


The following conditions govern the granting of a Registered Kennel Name:

  • A maximum of two Registered Kennel Name owners is allowed.

  • The name may be a unique word created by the applicant.

  • The name may contain a maximum of two words and a maximum of 15 total characters and spaces.

  • The name may not have been used more than incidentally and rarely by other breeders in the naming of dogs (of the applied for breed(s)) in the past 10 years such that the name is almost uniquely associated to the applicant. A name that is used more than incidentally by other breeders may not be registered by one individual regardless of the number of dogs registered by this individual. This will be verified through the AKC registration records.

  • Ineligible words would include, but are not limited to, conflict either phonetically or in spelling with: the name of a breed, AKC titles, names of cities, family names, corporations or trade names, names of famous and universally recognized persons, living or dead, or words commonly used in the naming of dogs.

  • A kennel name may not contain any derogatory or discriminatory words.

  • Applicant(s) may not have an interest in a pet store or dog dealership


Application for a Registered Kennel Name

Each application for a Registered Kennel Name is considered on its merit. Application data will be verified through AKC records. The granting of a Registered Kennel Name is at the sole discretion of the American Kennel Club. The American Kennel Club reserves the right to reject an application or revoke a name once it has been registered.


Transferring a kennel name
A kennel name can be passed from a parent to a child by following the standard transfer procedures. However, if an owner of a kennel name transfers a Registered Kennel Name out of his ownership to the ownership of a non-related individual(s), the transferee must meet all of the requirements listed above.


Renewing a kennel name
Once a kennel name is registered, it must be renewed every five years. Should the owner of a kennel name fail to renew the protection, the name would be released for general use.  Renewal notices are mailed 2 months prior to expiration.

How is the name protected?
When a kennel name is registered, the American Kennel Club will exercise reasonable care in protecting the name for the use of the individual(s) to whom it has been registered. Currently, a Registered Kennel Name is protected in all positions of a dog's name. For example, if the name "Bob" was a Registered Kennel Name, then the name could not appear anywhere in the name of a dog without the written permission of the owner of that kennel name. Further, a dog or litter cannot be registered with a kennel as its owner unless the kennel name is registered with the AKC.

Protecting a name for multiple breeds
Registered Kennel Names granted on or after July 1, 2004 are granted on a breed specific basis. An applicant may request the name to cover multiple breeds; the applicant must meet all the requirements for each breed requested and submit the fee of $150.00* per breed. (*effective 1/1/2015)



Kennel names of prominent breeders were recognized as early as September 1887, soon after the founding of the AKC. The first publication of registered kennel names was in the January 1889 issue of the Gazette, which listed names such as Blemton, Fordhook, Kilmarnock, and Maizeland. However, most dogs of the day, even if they were owned by a kennel, were generally registered under simple names such as Spot, Don and Rover. Therefore, it is difficult to trace the exact history of the Registered Kennel Name program and probably impossible to determine the first kennel name registered with the AKC.

The first official rule governing kennel names appeared in the January 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 February 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.

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. To date, these rules remain essentially unchanged. (See the Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline, Chapter 3, Sections 9-14.)