The AKC Club Relations Department handles the accreditation, licensing and member club approval process for all AKC clubs and administers the development of new clubs so they may qualify for the holding of sanctioned matches, mentored and licensed events.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- PART I General Information
- PART II Organization
- PART III AKC Accreditation
- PART IV Additional Club Resources
Thinking of establishing a new AKC-accredited purebred dog club in your area? The Club Relations Department will be happy to help you get started. Here’s a brief look at the types of clubs that serve the sport:
Parent Specialty clubs (National clubs) represent fanciers of a single breed nationwide. These clubs primarily hold dog shows, but many parent specialty clubs also hold obedience trials, agility trials, tracking tests and other performance events approved for their particular breed. The AKC approves only one parent club for each breed. For information on a particular breed’s parent club and contact information, please view information on the AKC’s website for the Parent Club (National) Search tool.
Local specialty clubs are formed to serve the interests of a single breed on a local level. These clubs serve their breed by holding conformation shows evaluating a dog’s conformation to its particular breed standard. Local specialty clubs may also hold companion events and/or the performance events for which the breed is eligible.
All-Breed clubs are formed to serve purebred dog owners of every breed registered by the AKC to hold conformation dog shows. All-Breed clubs may also be eligible to hold companion and performance events.
Limited Breed (Group) clubs are formed to serve owners of breeds from one of the seven groups. Group clubs are eligible to hold conformation shows, companion events and/or performance events for their particular group.
Obedience clubs are formed to serve owners of all breeds. Members demonstrate the usefulness of purebred dogs as a companion and the ability to follow specified routines. In addition to obedience trials, obedience clubs offer training classes and clinics.
Tracking clubs are formed to serve owners of all breeds. Tracking tests demonstrates a dog’s ability to recognize and follow human scent. Tracking clubs may offer classes and clinics in addition to variable surface tracking tests.
Agility clubs are formed to serve owners of all dogs. Agility trials afford owners the opportunity to demonstrate a dog’s willingness to work with its handler under a variety of conditions.
Field Trial clubs are formed to serve owners of Retrievers, Spaniels, Pointing Breeds, Basset Hounds, Dachshunds and Beagles with the opportunity to train and compete with their dogs through competition in the field.
Hunting Test clubs are formed to serve owners of Pointing Breeds, Retrievers and Spaniels. Under simulated but near-natural hunting conditions in noncompetitive hunting tests, owners evaluate and grade the hunting abilities of their dogs against written hunting standards.
Herding clubs are formed to serve owners of breeds eligible to compete in Herding in noncompetitive tests and competitive trials. These events help measure a dog’s basic training as a herding dog and preserve and develop herding skills inherent in herding breeds.
Lure Coursing clubs are formed to serve owners of Sighthounds. Lure coursing demonstrates a dog’s ability to follow a lure over a laid-out course.
Earthdog clubs are formed to serve owners of small Terriers and Dachshunds. These clubs offer events that measure natural and working abilities when exposed to hunting situations.
Scent Work clubs are formed to serve owners of all dogs. These are events that are based on the task of working detection dogs to locate a scent and communicate to the handler that the scent has been found.
Rally clubs are formed to serve owners of all dogs to hold events that demonstrate the dog has been trained to behave in the home, in public places and in the presence of other dogs all times and under all conditions.
Coonhound clubs are formed to serve owners of Coonhounds to hold events that demonstrate the natural abilities of Coonhounds through competitive night hunts and bench shows.
Is Your Club Eligible to Apply for Accreditation?
Whatever type of club you are considering, we’ve found that every effective dog club:
- Is composed of members who love purebred dogs and their sport and can work together to serve the best interests of dogs and the sport.
- Operates under acceptable Constitution and Bylaws identifying the orderly and democratic conduct of club business. Please see AKC’s Club Bylaw Services webpage for further information.
- Has members residing in a local geographic area and is able to hold events in their respective community to promote the sport of purebred dogs.
AKC’s Basic Club Policies
A word of caution: If you and your fellow enthusiasts seek to establish a new club where none currently exists, we will be happy to assist you. However, we cannot encourage the establishment of a new club if there is an existing club of the same type in the same area. Dissatisfaction with an existing club should not be the reason to form a similar club. This may be referenced at times as a “Splinter or Dissident Group”.
Club Name: Your club’s name should identify a geographic locality of activity based on its membership. The best rule of thumb: Would it be easily recognizable to fanciers in other parts of the country? Names including geographic references should be familiar to other fanciers outside of the club’s area. It is recommended to receive written approval of the club’s name from Club Relations before the club incorporates or prints letterhead.
For example, if a local specialty club, the club’s name must include the full name of the breed. If it’s a limited breed club (group), the specific group must be identified. If it is an Agility club, the club’s name must include “Agility”, etc.
Membership: The minimum membership household requirement is set for each type of club by the AKC’s Board of Directors. For more details, please see the AKC Club Household Membership Requirements.
Geographic Local Territory: There is no specified mileage; each club is evaluated based on its membership and where they reside. Local geography and proximity to existing clubs of the same type are taken into consideration.
Continuity: A record of meetings, elections, membership information and activities should be kept by the club before seeking AKC accreditation. A brief description of fun matches or other activities may be provided.
Event Sites: Every club must have a suitable event site in its local area before applying for accreditation.
Local Specialty Clubs: We recommend that persons interested in forming a new local specialty club contact the respective parent club for that breed during the early stages of the club’s development. Parent clubs often provide assistance and information of value to new clubs. For help in contacting the secretary of your parent club, please visit our Parent Club (National) Search tool.
Is Your Club Eligible for Accreditation?
Whatever type of club you are considering, we’ve found that every effective dog club:
- Is composed of members who love purebred dogs and their sport and can work together to serve the best interests of the dogs and the sport.
- Operates under an acceptable Constitution and Bylaws document spelling out the orderly and democratic conduct of club business. Please see AKC’s Club Bylaw Services webpage for further information.
- Has members residing in a local geographic area and is able to hold events in their respective community to promote the sport of purebred dogs.
AKC’s Basic Club Policies
A word of caution: If you and your fellow enthusiasts seek to establish a new club where none currently exists, we will be happy to help you make it a reality. However, we cannot encourage the establishment of a new club if there is an existing club of the same type in the same area. This is referenced at times as a “Splinter or Dissident Group”. Dissatisfaction with an existing club should not be the reason to form a similar club.
Club Name: Your club’s name should identify a geographic locality of activity based on its membership. The best rule of thumb: Would it be easily recognizable to fanciers in other parts of the country? Please avoid unusual names that would be unfamiliar to other fanciers not in the club’s area. We suggest you receive written approval of the name from Club Relations before the club incorporates or prints letterhead.
For example, if a local specialty club, the club’s name must include the full name of the breed. If it’s a limited breed club (group), the specific group must be identified. If it is a multiple-breed club, such as agility, the club’s name must include “agility”.
Membership: The minimum membership household requirement is set for each type of club. Local membership must constitute the clear majority of club members. For more details, please see the AKC Club Household Membership Requirements.
Geographic Local Territory: There is no specified mileage; each club is evaluated on its own membership, applicable local geography and proximity to existing clubs of the same type. We recognize that in densely populated areas there may be a need for more clubs, while in sparsely populated areas more territory may be suitable.
Continuity: Prospective new clubs are expected to demonstrate ongoing viability by establishing a record of meetings, elections and activities before coming to the AKC for accreditation. If clubs have held fun matches or other activities, a brief description may be provided.
Event Sites: Every club must have a suitable site for its events in its local area before applying for accreditation.
Specialty Clubs: We recommend that persons interested in forming a new local specialty club contact the respective parent club for that breed during the early stages of the club’s development. Parent clubs often provide assistance and information of value to new clubs. For help in contacting the secretary of your parent club, please visit our National Club Search tool.
Parent Club and Local Specialty Club Collaboration Efforts
(August 2022 AKC Board Meeting)
“AKC will continue to process prospective new club accreditation requests following current procedures. The AKC reviews all documentation submitted to determine if a prospective club meets the criteria for accreditation, including notifying the Parent Club in advance and reviewing their commentary if offered. To further enhance the collaboration between Parent Clubs and local Specialty Clubs, Parent Clubs will be sent a mailing when they become the AKC Parent Club designated to represent a breed, to encourage any clubs that the Parent Club recognized as “regional” clubs to apply for accreditation to become local specialty clubs. The AKC does not recognize regional clubs that may be designated as such by a Parent Club. The mailing to all Parent Club officers and Delegates will indicate the requirements for achieving AKC status as a local specialty club.”
We believe all clubs should take responsibility for promoting purebred dogs and work with the AKC and other clubs on issues of general concern to the Sport. Therefore, in addition to electing officers, your club is encouraged to include Junior membership in its Bylaws and appoint a Junior Coordinator, a Public Educational Coordinator to help educate your community on purebred dogs and responsible dog ownership and an AKC Breeder Referral Contact would support efforts to encourage prospective dog owners to acquire their dog from a responsible breeder. A Legislative Liaison is also suggested to help keep members advised of current legislation affecting dog owners and breeders.
The first step is to hold an organizational meeting. Try to contact all fanciers in your proposed area who may want to become involved. Show catalogs for all-breed shows list the exhibitors’ names and addresses. Local all-breed clubs may be asked to make announcements, as a courtesy, at their shows or meetings. At the first meeting please select temporary officers and adopt a set of Bylaws. For general guidelines on holding meetings and other club business, you may review Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised.
- Decide on a meeting schedule and location.
- Choose a temporary officer to keep records of the club’s development. (Note: Always keep copies of club records. Clubs have unfortunately lost valuable records due to floods, fires, individuals moving, etc.).
- Set up a program of activities. These should reflect your efforts to assist fanciers and promote the sport and responsible dog ownership.
- Code of Ethics. The AKC does not review or require a code of ethics but does expect all clubs and members to behave ethically at all times. If your club adopts a code of ethics, it should be used as an educational tool, and should not be tied to the disciplinary section of the bylaws. It is our experience that when bylaws and codes of ethics are linked, clubs become needlessly involved in internal disputes which are unrelated to the welfare of the club or the sport. Please see AKC’s Code of Sportsmanship.
There are “Two Event Paths” for clubs to become Accredited and Licensed – the Standard Event Path and the Mentored Event Path. A new club’s experience in the sport determines its path from accreditation to licensing. Each club is evaluated based on current policies and the number of years of experience possessed by each member as noted by the club on the Membership Information Sheet. Please contact Club Relations for more information.
After holding an organizational meeting, electing temporary officers, drafting a set of bylaws, a date for the first annual meeting should be considered. It is recommended to establish a schedule of meetings/events/activities until the first annual meeting. Your club will be eligible to apply for accreditation for consideration to hold sanctioned matches or mentored events, which may lead to the holding of licensed shows, trials and/or tests. A presentation may be submitted to the Club Relations Department, and should include the following information, as noted on the Check Off List for Status Approval.
- A general overview of the club’s development including the organizational date and history, which should also include a list of the dates and locations of meetings and events.
- If fun matches are held, please include dates, sites, and number of entries.
- A completed Membership Information Sheet including all dues paid voting members with names, postal and email addresses, and year joined. If there are non-voting members in the club, please list them separately. Please see the following letter designations:
- “B” (Breeder) — has registered a litter within the past three years.
- “E” (Exhibitor) — has handled a dog at an AKC-licensed event within the past two years, if you are applying for more than one type of competition the different types of exhibitors must be indicated as noted on the Membership Information Sheet.
- “DO” (interested Dog Owner) —although not actively breeding or exhibiting, a dog owner of an AKC registered dog; The breed of dog owned should also be indicated.
- “J” – AKC-licensed judge.
- “EC” – Event Committee – indicate the number of years of experience in each role on an Event Committee.
- A list of club officers with postal and email addresses with daytime telephone numbers.
- A completed New Club Profile Form.
- A copy of the club’s Constitution and Bylaws. Please review AKC’s Club Bylaw Services webpage for the current Sample Constitution and Bylaws for a readily acceptable document, along with the date voted to adopt. The Affirmation of Bylaw Review Form can also be found on AKC’s Club Bylaw Services webpage.
- (For All-Breed Clubs only) Please list four open weekends for holding shows within the required event mileage policy in your division. Please see AKC’s Board Administration Policy for New Conformation Club Approval Criteria.
When your club meets the criteria for accreditation, please submit your presentation to the Club Relations Department. A staff committee will review the materials submitted and determine if the club can be placed on our records as an AKC club. Once a favorable decision is made, your club will be formally notified that it is eligible to apply to hold qualifying events to become licensed (AKC-sanctioned Plan A matches, trials or tests, or mentored event) provided club member experience qualifies for application under the Mentored Event Path. Clubs that do not qualify for the Mentored Event Path are approved for the Standard Event Path to hold sanctioned matches and are required to submit a presentation requesting license status.
Upon accreditation, the club will be sent match applications, helpful match application guidelines, and AKC web links for the applicable Rules, Regulations & Policies and AKC’s Show Manual.
Please do not schedule sanctioned matches in advance of hearing from Club Relations that your request has been approved. Every request must be reviewed by our committee. We do not want to see any club disappointed if its request is delayed and commitments have already been made to hold a sanctioned Plan A match.
Please be advised that sanctioned match applications are not available online for newly sanctioned clubs.
Standard Path – Plan A Match Program
Before AKC grants clubs a license and the authority to hold championship events, clubs are accredited to hold sanctioned Plan A matches. These events are “qualifying” events to help new members learn the details and mechanics of an event and give inexperienced dogs valuable ring experience. The rings at matches are the classrooms of tomorrow’s exhibitors and judges.
Parent Specialty (National) Clubs: The Standard Path for Parent Specialty Clubs is to hold Two (2) Open Shows at least six months apart, at locations east and west of the Mississippi River. Please contact the Foundation Stock Services Department (FSS) for detailed information on the breed’s eligibility status before submitting a presentation to Club Relations for license status.
Performance Clubs: Please contact AKC’s Performance Events Department for guidance in submitting Accreditation requests – firstname.lastname@example.org
Holding Plan A Matches
All clubs are required to hold at least one (1) “Qualifying” sanctioned Plan A level match prior to requesting license status. Sanctioned Plan A level matches are held just like licensed events. Clubs should follow the Match Regulations, Rules Applying to Dog Shows and AKC Rules, Regulations & Policies carefully. Matches are evaluated on how closely the club adheres to the requirements outlined in the Match Regulations. If there are any questions, please contact Club Relations. Matches are designed so that experienced members can work cohesively with each other and at the same time teach new members the mechanics of the events. It is easier for the club to contact Club Relations when a question arises before the need to remedy a situation occurs.
Reports on Plan A Level Matches
Sanctioned Plan A (OA) Match Reports must be submitted to Club Relations within seven days of the date of the event. The Premium List should be sent to Club Relations at the same time it is made available to the public. The club must also submit all judges’ books, entry forms, and a marked and signed catalog. The club will be advised when the match has been deemed “qualifying”.
Sanctioned Plan A Field Trials and Hunting Tests
One (1) “qualifying” event will be required to satisfy the sanctioned Plan A program. A “qualifying” sanctioned Plan A event refers to an event held before a club is eligible to submit a license presentation to Club Relations for consideration of license status. A premium list and result recordings must be prepared. An AKC Field Representative may be scheduled to attend your club’s Plan A event in order to provide a report to AKC and deem it “qualifying”. The Field Representative will be evaluating how efficiently the club is able to conduct the sanctioned trial or test in accordance with applicable AKC Rules or Regulations. During the sanctioned event, the Field Representative will also help provide educational assistance to the club as needed. If in the opinion of the Field Representative, the event was successfully held by the club, it will be noted in a report that the event is “qualifying” and Club Relations will be notified by the Performance Events Department that the Plan A program requirements have been met.
Reports on Plan A Performance Events
Event results, including a copy of the premium list and result recordings, must be submitted to the AKC’s Performance Events Department within seven (7) days of the sanctioned event. The Performance event Secretary’s report should also include any problems encountered by the Trial/Test committee and how these problems were resolved. If you have any questions while preparing the report, contact the Performance Events Department at email@example.com.
After your club has successfully completed its “qualifying” Sanctioned Plan A level program, the club may submit a presentation requesting license status. A licensed presentation must include an officer signed letter requesting license status with updated items from the Accreditation requirements above (see #3, #4, #6).
The New Clubs Committee will consider a number of factors in making its decision, including your club’s continuity and development of membership — for instance, has there been excessive turnover? If so, were there any unusual circumstances? There is no minimum number of members who are required to be active breeders however, we look for an increase in the number of exhibitors over time. We review the reports on activities and the club’s ability to hold “qualifying” events for licensing.
The club will be notified of its status by the Club Relations Department. Please do not contract for grounds, services, etc., for holding licensed events until you have been notified that the club’s request has been approved. This will avoid problems if the request is delayed for any reason. Once approved the club will be advised to visit AKC’s website for applicable event applications (Downloadable Forms), and Rules and Regulations.
Mentored Event Path
The Mentored Event Path would require a set number of individuals with event management experience for each club type taking into consideration the competition type and level of complexity to hold a successful event.
All-Breed Clubs – ten (10) members with Event Management experience
Limited Breed (Group), Agility and Scent Work Clubs – seven (7) members with Event Management experience
Local Specialty, Obedience, Rally, Tracking, Field Trials, Hunting Tests, Lure Coursing, Herding, and Earthdog Clubs – five (5) members with Event Management experience.
The application to hold a Mentored Event is the same as a Licensed Event Application and may be found on the following link for Downloadable Forms.
Reports on Mentored Events
With mentored events, points and titles can be earned. An AKC Field Representative or AKC designated official from a mentoring club will be available to assist the club in planning and conducting the event. A report including details of the mentored event is submitted to Club Relations. If the results are acceptable, clubs are officially licensed to hold that type of competition.
Once the Mentored event is successfully held, a licensed presentation is not required, and the club will be advised of its official license status.
Additional Club Resources
- About Club Relations
- “Working It Outsm … Guide & FAQs”
- Club Bylaw Services
- Managing Club Finances
- Rules, Regulations & Policies
- Downloadable Forms
- The Complete Dog Book (AKC Shop)
- “A Beginner’s Guide To Dog Shows” (AKC Shop)
- AKC Gazette
- Press Center
- “The Economic Benefits to AKC Dog Events”
Accreditation: Approval by the New Clubs Committee to conduct AKC-sanctioned and mentored events.
Bylaws (Constitution and Bylaws): The document by which the club is governed and conducts its business.
Catalog: A printed catalog containing the names of all dogs and their owners entered in an event. A catalog is mandatory for “A” level events.
Inquiry: Clubs which have notified the AKC of their existence but are not yet AKC clubs approved to hold AKC-sanctioned or mentored events.
Sanctioned: Clubs which have been approved to hold sanctioned Plan “A” level or mentored events.
Licensed: Clubs which are officially approved to hold events at which championship points and/or titles may be earned.
Member: Only certain types of clubs are eligible to apply for member status in accordance with AKC’s Charter and Bylaws – Parent Clubs, All-Breed Clubs, Group Clubs, Obedience Clubs, Agility Clubs and Multiple Breed Field Trial Clubs. Member clubs select delegates who may attend the AKC’s quarterly meetings. Clubs are elected to member status by the sitting delegates.
Mentored Events: An event option available for eligible clubs wishing to hold conformation, performance events and/or companion events, provided the members of the club have sufficient experience in the sport. Points and titles can be earned at this event. An AKC Field Rep or AKC designated official from a mentoring club would be available to assist the club in planning and conducting the event. A report including details of the mentored event is submitted to Club Relations.
Fun Matches/Events: An informal dog event that does not require American Kennel Club approval. AKC clubs are encouraged to hold fun matches open to the public in order to introduce new dog owners to their club and the sports. Fun matches may be held in conjunction with a licensed event (on the same day and location), or they may be an independent event. If held in conjunction with an event, the fun match must abide by the Regulations, policies and procedure that apply to that sport.
Premium Lists: An advance notice brochure sent to prospective exhibitors, containing details of the forthcoming event. Premium lists are mandatory for Plan A level events.
Supported Entries: A specialty club that is sanctioned by the AKC, and which has held at least one successful sanctioned event, may support the entry of its breed at an all-breed or group club event. Supported entries are limited to one specialty club per breed. A group club that is sanctioned by the AKC, and which has held at least one successful sanctioned event, may support the entry of all the breeds/varieties in the group at an all-breed event. Supported entries are limited to one club per breed. Clubs that are not licensed or sanctioned with the AKC can only provide the trophies for supported entries and cannot provide for any class that the hosting all-breed show is not holding. The only place that a club not licensed or sanctioned with the AKC can be listed is in the trophy section of the premium list. Please refer to the Show Manual for further information.
AKC’s Club Relations Department may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
AKC/Club Relations Department
101 Park Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10178