Saturday, December 12, 2009

AKC allows mixed breed dogs to compete!

I am happy to announce that the American Kennel Club has broadened its horizons and as of April 1, 2010, is allowing mixed breed classes at its agility, obedience and rally obedience performance events. This is a HUGE concession on the part of this organization, which is dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs and breeding. All registered mixes are required to be spayed or neutered.

The AKC states that their shows are for the purpose of evaluating breeding stock (similar to showing cattle and horses at 4H or the county fair). The field (hunting), tracking, earth dog and obedience classes were originally developed to evaluate a dog's ability to do what it was bred to do, giving the dog further breeding credentials.

For many years, spayed or neutered purebreds have been allowed to compete in many performance events. Allowing mixed breeds in was the next logical step. The UKC has allowed it for years. There was resistance in the AKC, and I understand that. No one wants to be seen endorsing random dog breeding, and by allowing mixes you could claim that this leans in that direction. But it's a stretch.

Mixed breeds will compete in separate classes, and only at non-conformation events. Here is the exact wording:

Mixed-breed classes can be held at all-breed sanctioned/licensed/member stand-alone AKC Companion Events. The definition of a stand-alone AKC Companion Event is an AKC Agility, Obedience or Rally event that is NOT held on the same date AND show site as an AKC All-Breed dog show, Group Show or Independent Specialty. Mixed-breed dogs compete in separate classes from purebreds.

I sense a little "keep your grubby mixed breeds away from my classy purebreds" attitude here, but this is at least a step in the right direction.

The significant benefit to the AKC is a new source of income. For a $35 fee, a mixed breed dog gets an AKC Partners registration number, a subscription to AKC Family Dog magazine, and lifetime enrollment in the AKC Companion Animal Recovery Program, all very nice benefits to the pet owner. And the AKC builds their marketing database significantly, without "endorsing" mixed breeds, or worse, "hybrids." Think of all the designer breeds that can now compete: labradoodles and goldendoodles will at last have a place to showcase their talents. (I can see the conformation crowd cringing.)

The AKC has always allowed mixed breeds (and even cats) to enroll in their CAR database. Mixes are also eligible to earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate.

Although money and marketing clout may be their motivation, I think this move benefits pet owners everywhere and helps foster responsible dog ownership. I'm sure they hope to move some owners of mixes over to the purebred world, but I for one, have owned both and loved them equally.

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