A Guide to the Dog Clubs of America

by Randy Hemsley




There are quite a few clubs and associations in the United States devoted to the love of dogs and dogs themselves. Some are comprised of owners' groups just looking to get together for off-leash events, training exhibitions, obedience training, or other casual events. But there are others, like the American Kennel Club, that are closely managed and mainly for breed registration. Keep reading for a simple guide to the major dog associations in North America.

The primary and perhaps best known is the American Kennel Club (AKC), which deals only with purebred dogs. Basically, the AKC is simply a registry of breeds and dog pedigrees. Aside from purebred registration, the AKC also holds regular events and dog shows. To register your dog with the AKC, both the dog's parents must be registered and within the same breed. It can be an expensive and arduous process, but ultimately necessary if you are planning to enter your dog in show competition or using it for breeding purposes.

The AKC also supports its Foundation Stock Service (FSS). These are breeds, like the American English Coonhound, that are not quite yet fully recognized by the AKC, but are on their way. Dogs from the FSS breeds can be registered, but they can't earn championship points at AKC events.

For dogs with less illustrious backgrounds, the American Mixed Breed Organization (AMBOR) is a wonderful registry for dogs of mixed breed backgrounds. It enables them to compete in obedience and agility competitions like the popular SuperDog events. Founded in 1983, AMBOR is about dogs earning titles through ability and training, not patronage.

Membership is open to all dogs of any background, other than wolf hybrids, as long as the pet is neutered or spayed and the nails are properly trimmed. To register your dog with AMBOR, you'll need to submit front and side photographs along with the application papers. From there, each competition your dog participates in, his tallies and scores will be automatically added to his record and entered into the nationwide obedience ranking system.

Purebred dogs are also welcome as members of AMBOR, but their entry is limited to the agility-specific programs and competitions. Dogs that are purebred, as in registered with the AKC or Canadian Kennel Club, are not eligible for the obedience or agility scoring systems. This means they won't appear on the web site highlights and can't qualify for mixed-breed national competition.


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