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Enhanced Guidelines and New Format Provide Best Practices For All Responsible Dog Owners

As the only purebred dog registry in the country with an ongoing kennel inspection program, the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) is proud to announce recent enhancements to its Care and Conditions of Dogs policy.  Since 2000, AKC has conducted more than 55,000 inspections based on its care and conditions policy, which is at the core of its inspections program, as well as record-keeping and dog identification.  The AKC Board of Directors voted unanimously at its April meeting to implement the new enhanced policy with an effective date of June 1, 2012.

“In our leadership role as experts on maintaining and keeping of dogs since 1884, we are uniquely placed to provide American dog and kennel owners with guidelines detailing best practices that embody responsible dog ownership regardless of the number of dogs owned,” said AKC’s Director of Compliance Support Jack Norton. “We are committed to protecting the integrity of our registry and ensuring that all AKC dogs are cared for in a humane way. Our policies embody AKC’s mission to promote responsible dog ownership.”

Since 1990, an additional AKC policy has provided that when inspectors find substandard kennel conditions and /or dogs in imminent danger, it will be reported immediately to the proper federal, state or local authorities.

The policy has been reformatted into an easy-to-understand framework for responsible dog ownership including: Care of Dogs, Kennels and Housing and Operations. Anyone, from a single dog owner to a large kennel manager, can follow these enhanced guidelines, to ensure best practices of keeping and maintaining dogs. In addition, as the cornerstone of the AKC Inspections program, each time an inspector conducts an inspection they will have the opportunity to educate and communicate this policy to owners and breeders.  

Enhanced guidelines include:

  • The importance of daily positive human interaction and socialization for dogs
  • Sufficient number of staff must be provided to carry out appropriate levels of care and conditions for the number of dogs kept
  • Each kennel should maintain an emergency preparedness plan adequate for the type of facility owned and breed(s) of dogs maintained there
  • When euthanasia is necessary, it should always be performed humanely


AKC’s Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy (effective June 1, 2012)


The Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy, effective June 1, 2012, reflects the American Kennel Club’s values in promoting the responsible ownership and maintenance of dogs.  These guidelines are meant as a basis for helping individuals ensure that dog care practices are performed and housing facilities are maintained in a safe, humane and responsible manner.   The guidelines are not intended to be all-inclusive or definitive, but rather are intended to serve as a working basic outline that can be expanded and refined as needed while lending uniform application of this policy.  In addition to guidelines set forth in this policy, individuals are expected to comply with all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding the ownership and maintenance of dogs.

  • Care of Dogs

    • Dogs should have access on a daily basis for play and exercise. 
    • Dogs must have access to fresh water as appropriate. 
    • Dogs must have access to fresh food provided at appropriate intervals to maintain a healthy weight.
    • Appropriate health care, including routine and preventative care, must be provided for all dogs.
    • Dogs should be provided with daily positive human contact and socialization.
    • Each dog should have its overall health and behavior assessed daily.  Any deviation in health condition must be addressed expeditiously and appropriately.  
    • Dogs should be free from internal and external parasites.
    • Dogs should be afforded regular grooming to ensure health and comfort. 
    • When euthanasia is necessary, it must always be performed humanely.

  • Kennels and Housing 

    • The primary enclosure must be large enough so the dog(s) can sit, stand, lie down, or turn around comfortably, with no overcrowding. 
    • The primary enclosure shall be constructed and maintained so that dogs are securely confined and does not cause injury to the dogs. 
    • Protection from adverse or extreme weather conditions must be provided. 
    • While flooring that provides solid footing is preferred, if wire is used as flooring of a primary enclosure, it should be comprised of a material featuring a protective coating, be of an appropriate size to prevent injury (especially to feet), and must be kept in good repair.  If wire is used, a solid platform of sufficient size should be provided to allow the dog(s) to attain solid footing and to offer a space for resting. 
    • Facilities must be lighted to provide a regular lighting cycle for the dogs. 
    • Bedding material made available to dogs should be clean and not pose a risk to the dogs.
  • Operations

    • A sufficient number of staff must be provided to carry out appropriate levels of care and conditions for the number of dogs kept. 
    • Facility and primary enclosures should be clean, free from debris and odor, and feces should be picked up and disposed of as frequently as necessary so as not to pose a threat to the health of the dog(s).
    • Each kennel should maintain an emergency preparedness plan adequate for the type of facility owned and breed(s) of dogs maintained therein.  


The above is in addition to the policy adopted at the July 1990 Board meeting to notify federal, state or local agencies of unsanitary and/or unhealthy conditions found by AKC Inspectors during inspection of kennels; that the US Department of Agriculture (APHIS) will be notified when such conditions prevail at kennels regulated by that department under the provisions of the U.S. Animal Welfare Act; and that other state/local governmental or humane agencies will be notified when such conditions are observed at kennels not regulated by federal law. 

In instances when dog(s) are found in conditions that place them in immediate danger, the Inspector will immediately notify agencies with jurisdiction regarding the danger to the dogs. 

During the course of an inspection, if an AKC Inspector determines that an individual is not maintaining his/her dogs or facility in a manner that is compliant with the AKC’s Care and Conditions Policy, the individual’s  AKC privileges may be placed on temporary referral.  The individual will be notified, in writing, of specific deficiencies and what steps need to be taken to come into compliance with the Care and Conditions of Dogs Policy.  The individual shall be given 45 days to correct deficiencies and request a re-inspection.  In cases where deficiencies are not corrected or re-inspections are not requested, the AKC may proceed with disciplinary action leading to suspension of all AKC privileges.

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