Chapter 4
How To Know What Type Dog Is Best For You

Registries, Pedigrees, and Papers

In order for a dog breed to exist, it needs to be recognized by a breed registry. You can think of a breed registry as a company that keeps a record of the entire family tree for all the dog breeds it has registered. A registry is essentially an official documented list of parents and offspring. You can trace the ancestry of a registered purebred dog back several generations through a documented pedigree program. This pedigree is recorded with a breed registry to establish an 'official' bloodline. When a litter of puppies is born, the breeder requests registration paperwork for each puppy. The breeder or dog owner can then send in these "papers" to the breed registry to register their puppy as a member of the breed. The American Kennel Club (AKC), formed in 1884, is the best known breed registry in the United States. The United Kennel Club, founded in 1898, is the American Kennel Club's biggest competitor and is a worldwide breed registry. When someone registers a dog, they file the registration papers which essentially states that a puppy was born as the offspring of two registered parent dogs of the same breed. The breed registry maintains a master list of all registered dogs and can trace each dog’s ancestry through these registrations. American Kennel Club printed pedigrees typically list three or four generations of dogs. Using the AKC or another online pedigree database, enthusiasts can trace a dog's pedigree back seven or more generations; or in some cases, as far as the beginning of the recorded pedigree of the dog. Normally the AKC will only register purebred dogs that are descended from AKC-registered purebred dogs. Puppies whose parents aren't registered by the AKC cannot become AKC registered, except through the Foundation Stock Service Program which exists only for breeds the AKC has not yet fully recognized, giving the family trees of these breeds an opportunity to be documented.