The AKC’s DNA programs have resulted in an unprecedented level of accuracy to the AKC registry by evaluating the parentage of many AKC dogs and litters. However, for that very small percentage of registered dogs that are found, often years after birth, to have an unknown ancestor, the AKC had to cancel the registration.
To maintain genetic diversity, improve customer relations, and still maintain the accuracy of the registry, the Board of Directors approved the concept to allow the issuing of Conditional registration certificates and pedigrees, rather than canceling the registrations of a dog, all of its littermates and all of their progeny in these cases.
This concept was discussed at the September 2005 Delegate Meeting where AKC’s Consultant on DNA Science and Technology Dr. Elaine Ostrander recommended its implementation.
Below are the answers to some questions you may have. We welcome additional feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Conditional Certificate?
A dog with Conditional Registration has some unknown ancestors. The dog’s registration number will start with the letter ‘Q’ and the dog will have competition and breeding restrictions. Below is a sample Conditional Registration Certificate, showing the special border and (in this case) an unknown sire.
Sample Conditional Certificate.
What is a Conditional Pedigree?
When unknown parentage is indicated via DNA testing, the status of the registration will be downgraded to “conditional” until a three generation pedigree is established. “Unknown” will be noted on the registration or pedigree for the ancestor in question. This will only occur in cases where the dogs are believed to be purebred, but a registered parent is found to be incorrect.
The documents will have a different colored border and will be clearly labeled as Conditional. Also, a new registration number will be issued so that people familiar with AKC registration numbers can tell at a glance that the registration is different. For example, a dog initially registered as TN123456/01 would be registered with Conditional registration as QT123456/01. Thus, these dogs will be clearly noted as Conditional by their registration number, similar to the ‘Z’ used in the registration number for descendants of white Doberman Pinschers. In addition, the word “Conditional” will be boldly stated on the registration certificate which will have a yellow border (compared to purple for standard registrations or orange for limited) and the unknown parentage clearly displayed.
Why is this measure being adopted?
AKC continues to collect a rapidly growing number of DNA samples. By the close of 2006, the AKC had more than 425,000 DNA profiles from 196 AKC and FSS breeds in its database.
With our Frequently Used Sires requirement, many dogs are DNA profiled when they are three or four years old and have sired seven or more litters. AKC evaluates their parentage, and if incorrect parentage is found, it is sometimes not possible to determine the correct parentage of the litter because a potential sire is deceased or unable to be located. Currently, in these cases the registrations of the litter and its members and their offspring are canceled. A single case of an unknown sire can result in the cancellation of hundreds of AKC registrations. The negative reaction, especially from owners who registered their dog with AKC only to later have it canceled, is very damaging to AKC’s image.
Again, it is important to note that Conditional registration is only to be issued in cases where the dog appears and is believed to be purebred — it is just that one of the dog’s ancestors is unknown.
Why are Conditional Pedigrees considered the solution?
The AKC Board, staff, and Dr. Elaine Ostrander (consultant to AKC on DNA science and technology issues) have carefully and thoroughly considered this issue, weighing the benefits and drawbacks to various solutions.
In her September 2005 address to the Delegate Body, Dr. Ostrander recommended that AKC adopt this solution to allow for informed breeder decisions while maintaining a large population for genetic diversity.
The conclusion reached by all is that totally removing purebred dogs from the gene pool may not be the best thing for the breed populations or for AKC’s relationship with dog owners. By fully disclosing the incident of unknown parentage, breeders and dog owners can make their own, informed opinions about whether or not they will buy or breed a certain dog.
Will the registrations ever revert to Full?
Current policy for introducing breeds into the AKC registry requires a three-generation pedigree on each dog. This policy will also apply to dogs when an “unknown” dog is found in its pedigree based on a failed DNA test. An individual dog’s registration can be reverted to regular registration status with the completion of a DNA sample verifying parentage of that individual dog and confirming three generations of DNA-verified parentage. Returning to full registration after three generations of verified parentage is also in line with the acceptance of imported dogs with three-generation pedigrees from the country of origin.
Can these dogs be bred?
If both sire and dam have AKC DNA profiles, the litter may be registered. Litters already registered when the registration is converted will be changed to Conditional status.
What about event participation?
A dog with Conditional registration may participate in any event in which PAL/ILP dogs may participate. They may not participate in Conformation events or Field Trials, and titles previously earned in these events will be removed from the dog’s record. In the fourth generation of DNA-profiled parentage, the registration will revert to Full and the dog may participate in any AKC event.
Is the breeder penalized?
The discipline policies have not changed. When incorrect parentage is discovered via compulsory DNA programs, such as the Frequently Used Sires requirement or the Compliance Audit Program, the breeder is subject to a graduated schedule of penalties. When the DNA is on file on a voluntary basis, discipline is not applied.
What about dogs which are not purebred?
Conditional registration is only for dogs that appear to be purebred and had full AKC registration prior to the DNA exclusions being found. If the dogs in question do not appear to be purebred, an impure breeding complaint can be made to the Impure Breeding Committee, which will open an inquiry and take appropriate action.
Will the new mixed-breed DNA test be employed in determining Conditional status?
No. These new DNA tests are designed to determine the primary and secondary genetic heritage of mixed breed dogs, not to certify whether or not a dog is purebred. The AKC believes that the best way to determine parentage of a dog is still based on AKC’s long-standing DNA program and AKC does not intend to use these tests to evaluate a dog’s status as purebred. The AKC has long had procedures in place to deal with cases of impure breeding and will continue to use this method in dealing with any matters concerning the parentage of AKC registered dogs. AKC will, however, maintain positive contact with the laboratories offering breed identification testing, and may incorporate some of these techniques as a tool in registration inquiries in the future.
How will this affect the integrity of the AKC studbook?
A dog or bitch is listed in the AKC studbook after their first litter is registered. If a dog with Conditional registration (noted with the letter designation Q in the AKC registration number) appears in the studbook, it will help breeders quickly identify incomplete pedigrees. Having this tool will alert breeders that a Conditional dog has remained in its breed’s gene pool.