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What Are Registration Papers

Most people think that if their dog has “papers” it is a good dog. They believe that “papers” are synonymous with quality. Because of this belief, many people are taken advantage of by unscrupulous dog dealers and breeders. So what exactly are “papers?”

The registration papers that all purebred dogs should have, are merely a record of the breeding history of that dog. The registering body, no matter who it is, cannot guarantee the health, quality, temperament, looks, or potential performance of the puppy or dog. They can only guarantee that “as reported to them,” the records have been accurately kept. The weak link is “as reported to them.” This means that the breeder could have lied. (There are many ways that a breeder can do this, which I will not go into in this article.) What that means is that even if the registry has kept impeccable records, the records still may not reflect the true history of the dog in question. As a matter of fact, a dog could be a mixed breed and still have papers. For example, I had a client who called me to train his Spaniel, who had papers. When the breeder found out that the person was coming to me for training, they confessed that the dog was an accidental breeding and was half German Shepherd. Yet the dog had papers stating that it was a Spaniel. Even if the breeder was honest and accurately reported the proper information to the registry, that does not guarantee that the dog you get belongs to the papers issued with that dog. This often happens with dogs that are sold in retail outlets where the dog has passed through a middle man or two or three. There is only one way to accurately tell if a dog is sired and whelped by the parents listed on the papers, that is to have all involved DNA tested. Another misconception is that the registration papers prove that the person listed on the papers actually owns the dog. However, the fact is that the papers only show that the person listed owns “a” dog. There is no way to prove that a particular animal belongs to a particular set of papers.

In essence, papers do not represent the quality of a dog, proof of ownership, identify a particular dog, cannot be linked to a particular dog, and does not prove lineage. So what are papers good for? The registration papers that you get with a dog are only good if you plan to show a dog or breed a dog. There are two main registering bodies for dogs that are generally accepted. One is the United Kennel Club (UKC) and the other is the American Kennel Club (AKC). The United Kennel Club was formed shortly after the American Kennel Club. They are the two oldest registries in the country. The American Kennel Club is the ‘national’ registry so to speak since other countries recognize dogs that are registered with the AKC. The UKC traditionally has focused on the working dog rather than the show dog. Historically the AKC’s main focus has been the show ring. It’s most famous show is Westminster. Their next long standing involvement has been in obedience and field trials. Although in recent years they have tried to become more involved in sporting events such as agility, etc. The UKC has historically been involved with sporting events that relate to all types of hunting, obedience and other sporting activities. Recently they have offered conformation competition as well.

There is another type of registry. Sometimes a single breed club or a registry for a certain type of dog offers a registry service for their breed or type only. Then you may see such acronyms such as Australian Shepherd Club of America, ASCA, or North American Sheepdog Society, “NASDS,” North American Beauceron Club, “NABC”and so on. The single breed registries specialize in a particular breed and usually offer very high quality dogs. Most club’s require their members to adhere to a strict code of ethics.

However, a new type of registry has become popular with certain types of breeders. These registries go by a number of different names, most of which include initials that when spoken out loud may try to sound like either the AKC or UKC. Most of these registries will include one or more of the letters “A” “C” “U” or “K” in them. Almost all of these other registries will have a three letter acronym. You are not likely to see a registry that looks something like this, “DKCA” or “ADCA.” These registries have become very popular with the people who supply retail outlets with puppies. The registries only register dogs. They usually do not offer any other services such as shows or require a code of ethics to register a dog. Their sole purpose is to offer the coveted “papers” to the unsuspecting person who buys a dog registered with these organizations. Unlike the AKC and UKC, these registries do not police the breeders or the conditions that the dog farms operate under. By not registering with the AKC or UKC, these breeders no longer have to worry about investigations by the two major registering bodies because now the AKC and UKC have no jurisdiction over the operation. What this means is that the puppy mills only have to worry about local humane officers, complaints from people who see the conditions under which they operate or those who buy a sick dog. The papers issued by these organization are not accepted by any of the major registries in the world, and certainly not by any in the United States. That means that a dog registered by these organizations cannot compete in any recognized shows, cannot be bred and registered with any major registry. And when you consider that these are the only true benefits of having a dog registered by a recognized registry, then that means that the papers issued by this new type of organization is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Therefore, if you plan to buy a dog, please look into who the dog is registered with and do not support the puppy mill registries. Purchasing a dog is a buyer beware situation. So buyer, beware!


Copyright 2001 Susan Bulanda. All Rights Reserved.