American Kennel Club

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American Kennel Club (AKC) is an American association of pure bred dog enthusiasts and a lobbying, industry-funded organization for commercial dog breeders.


The American Kennel Club maintains a registry for purebred dogs in the United States and promotes events such as the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship. Unlike most dog clubs in other countries, the AKC is not part of the International Canine Organization or the Fédération Cynologique Internationale. [1] The AKC is comprised of approximately 500 autonomous clubs. [2]A delegate from each club votes on rules and regulations for dog shows, obedience and field trials. The AKC has corporate headquarters on Madison Ave, New York City and an Operations Center in Raleigh, NC.

Over 60 employees work at AKC headquarters. The New York office is home to the President/CEO, Chief Financial Officer and Executive Secretary, as well as the Club Relations, Communications, Finance, Legal, Marketing, and Publications' staff. The AKC employs approximately 300 administrative and professional employees at its Operations Center. [3]

Primary source of income

Breeding dogs in puppy mill

In 2006, the AKC's Board of Directors signed a contract with Petland pet stores to facilitate the registration of dogs sold by Petland and purchased from the Hunte Corporation, the largest commercial puppy mill broker in the United States. After a brief flurry of controversy, they rescinded the contract. However, as Chairman Ron Menaker noted, the American Kennel Club has "been registering AKC eligible puppies from Petland, and every other company selling AKC registrable puppies for the past 122 years". [4] In 2006 the AKC registered 870,000 individual dogs and 416,000 litters. At $20 per dog and $25 per litter (plus $2 per puppy) the AKC brought in well over $30 million in revenue from registrations. Litters from puppy mills are the registry's largest source of income. [5]

In an August 2008 meeting of the AKC board, management and staff were directed to "aggressively pursue all registrable dogs in the commercial sector where all AKC rules, regulations, and policies are followed." [6] However, the AKC has no specific health standards and lobbies against breeding standards and other humane legislation. See also sections 3 through 5.

Puppy mills & pet stores

Puppy mills mass produce dogs usually sold in pet stores or on-line. There are approximately 1,500 pet stores in the United States that sell puppies. [7] There are approximately 4,000 to 5,000 puppy mills in the United States, with 75 to 150 breeding dogs in each. Dogs in puppy mills receive little care, socialization and exercise and are often "stored" in cramped, dark and filthy cages. Breeding dogs and puppies from mills are also often inbred, sick, malnourished and flea infested. Not surprisingly, many also have behavioral problems. [8] Female dogs are bred twice a year and destroyed when they can no longer produce litters for sale. Puppies who survive unsanitary and abusive puppy mills must then endure grueling transport conditions. Brokers pack puppies for sale into crates to transport to pet stores. They are shipped in pick-up trucks, tractor trailers or air planes; often lacking adequate food and water, ventilation and shelter. Conditions don't improve much when they arrive at the pet store. Dogs are kept in small cages without exercise or socialization. [9] See also puppy mills.

AKC, NAIA & state breeders associations

There are about 20 state pet breeders associations who are (not too surprisingly) located in the major puppy mill states. The most active and vocal ones are in Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio, home to the heaviest concentration of puppy mills or what the AKC refers to as "high volume breeders". Almost all pet breeder associations link to the National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA) and AKC websites. The mouthpieces for the Pennsylvania and New York Pet Breeders Associations are Amish and Mennonite puppy millers, whose U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspection reports list repeated violations. [10]

Lobbying against humane legislation

The AKC is describes itself as a "national organization devoted to the advancement and welfare of pure-bred dogs." However, the AKC lobbies overwhelmingly in favor of commercial dog breeders to the detriment of health and other welfare issues. The AKC tracks dog related legislation in the United States, lobbies lawmakers and issues legislative alerts for members. It lobbies aggressively against humane, welfare legislation such as spay/neuter, tethering/penning and breeding restrictions. [11] The AKC also works through the NAIA, a lobbying organization for animal commerce and agriculture based in Portland, Oregon. Founder and director Patti Strand, is a Dalmatian breeder and AKC board member since 1995. [12]

Empowering puppy mill operators

The AKC sponsors a seminar called "Legislative Empowerment" that teaches breeders, owners and others involved in commerce involving dogs how to oppose legislation and regulations. According to the AKC:

"Specifically, in 2007, the Canine Legislation department: Tracked nearly 400 state bills relating to canine ownership." [13]

Opposing spay/neuter & breeding restrictions

Spay/neuter laws and breeding restrictions are reliably lobbied against by the AKC. [14] According to Patti Strand:

"Campaigns to stop pet overpopulation have been so successful they have caused a shortage of puppies and small dogs in many shelters. Rather than declare success and close their doors, some of these shelters now pay for puppies and dogs and import them from other cities, territories and countries so they will have dogs available for adoption. ..Some of the rescue groups and shelters participating in this relocation process are acting as dealers and pet stores and should be licensed accordingly." [15]

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), 6 to 8 million companion animals a year enter U.S. shelters and 3 to 4 million of those animals are euthanized. Every day in the U.S., thousands of companion animals are born due to uncontrolled pet breeding and lack of spay/neuter laws. Other negative byproducts include transformation of shelters into warehouses and incredible stress on shelter workers. Aggression and temperament issues can be attributed to uncontrolled breeding as can over 4.5 million dog bites annually. Neutering helps to reduce aggressive behavior. Every year, communities spend millions of dollars and vast amounts of volunteer hours coping with surplus pets. [16] Humane societies sometimes take in overflow from areas withy overcrowded shelters and high euthanasia, who would otherwise by put down. They do not buy and sell dogs. See also War on Animals, section 7.1.

H.R. 3058: Puppy Protection Act, 107th Congress, 2001-02 (defeated)

The Puppy Protection Act S. 1478/HR 3058 (PPA) was an amendment to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) [17] which would have protected animals living in laboratories, puppy mills and pet stores. It was introduced by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Richard Durbin (D-IL). [18] The PPA included a "three strikes and you're out" system, limits on litters for breeding females (to recover between litters) and a minimum breeding age of one year for females. It also contained requirements for adequate socialization with other dogs and people, to prevent future behavior problems. The House-passed version of the Farm bill H.R. 2646, did not contain the puppy mill provision. [19] Opposition to this bill included breeder and industry lobbies like the AKC, the NAIA and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). [20], [21] According to Patti Strand:

"The PPA was inspired by special interest groups that fund raise using emotional animal welfare issues. As such, it was based on sound bites and depended on evidence from those who aim to restrict all dog breeding. NAIA supports the AKC's conclusion that there is no basis in current science and no consensus among breeders, veterinarians or animal behaviorists as to what constitutes acceptable socialization standards." [22]

Independent research has indicated that most temperament issues are due to inhumane treatment, lack of proper socialization, inappropriate functions (guard dogs, chained dogs and fighting dogs) and irresponsible breeding. [23] There are also numerous groups devoted exclusively to this issue. [24]

Health, misleading advertising & lack of standards

Although the AKC has run advertising campaigns that imply a commitment to healthy dogs, they have no health standards for breeding other than a minimum age of 8 months. Registration indicates only that the dog's parents were registered as a recognized breed. It makes no claims on health, show quality or how a puppy was raised. [25]

A certified mess

For example, when a New Jersey resident contacted a licensed dog broker in Pennsylvania, the website assured quality breeders and healthy puppies. He was referred to Amish breeders Jonas and Henry Lapp of Chester County. In February of 2006, he paid 700 dollars for an AKC registered Boxer puppy. In April of 2006, the puppy was diagnosed with Demodectic Mange and certified as unfit for sale. By December of 2006, veterinary expenses had reached over $2,000. According to Mrs. Lapp, the puppy had inherited this condition from his grandmother. After being informed of the puppy's problems, the breeders "got rid of her". [26]

Although AKC policy bars employees from speaking to reporters without permission, six former inspectors gave lengthy interviews for a Philadelphia Inquirer investigation in 1995.[27] See also puppy mills.

Prohibition of mandatory standards in clubs

The AKC prohibits clubs from imposing stricter health regulations. For example, an AKC club cannot require a higher breeding age, hip dysplasia ratings, genetic tests for inheritable diseases, or any other restrictions.[28]

Letter from Patti Strand

A February 18, 2008 letter from Patti Strand objects to a Washington state consumer protection bill proposing commercial breeders be legally accountable for the health of puppies they sell, while exempting charitable rescues. According to Patti Strand "these entities are totally unregulated" and "operate like pet stores". Furthermore, they "recruit and sell/adopt" in the "secondary pet market". According to Ms. Strand complaints about "sick, dying and vicious animals" have increased due to the fact that "rescues and other quasi-humane groups have mushroomed." [29]

She apparently makes no distinction between breeding and selling sick puppies for hundreds or thousands of dollars each and charities rescuing homeless and abused animals; which she refers to as a "secondary pet market" (like used cars?) While rescues quarantine and screen animals for health and temperament issues prior to adoption (sometimes with restrictions); even young, healthy animals are sometimes euthanized due to lack of space, funds and available homes. Most issues (including over population) are preventable and result from the lack of standards which the NAIA and AKC endorse. Some are rescues from puppy mills and the "professional breeders" she advocates for. She also objects to "strays being imported from Asia", where millions dogs and cats are victims of the fur and meat trades. [30], [31] The real issue is not lack standards for "quasi-humane groups", but competition with AKC registered mill puppies.

Inbreeding & exploitation of pure bred dogs

Dogs represent are a $7-billion-a-year industry in the United States. 12 million out of (approximately) 57 U.S. dogs in 35 million homes, possess AKC papers (half of those eligible). The AKC has come under fire from an increasing number of critics including veterinarians, breeders, trainers and animal advocates that who charge that it has done purebred dogs irreparable harm. The AKC defines quality in a dog primarily on the basis of appearance; paying little mind or at the expense of other issues such as health and temperament. Over time, this policy has led to destructive inbreeding. Furthermore, the AKC has actively furthered its own interests in relation to dog exploitation by commercial dog breeding, selling and pet shop industries. [32]

Endorsing unnecessary & inhumane surgeries

Canine ear cropping & tail docking

The Faces of Devocalization - Coalition to Protect and Rescue Pets. - September 2009

The AKC "opposes any legislation that bans cropping/docking."

"...These procedures improve the quality of life for many dogs and often prevent future injuries when dogs are performing the tasks for which they are bred. Tail docking is important because it prevents field and working dogs from getting their tails caught or damaged in underbrush or when crawling into a tight space or under a fence. Ear cropping can help prevent ear infections common among dogs with long, floppy ears." [33]

Certain dog breeds are mutilated as puppies solely for cosmetic reasons. On this basis, it is an animal welfare issue. Claims that dogs of only certain breeds have their ears cropped for prophylactic reasons are unsubstantiated and misleading. For example, "drop eared" breeds like Labradors and Spaniels are not cropped. Spaniels have long, heavy ears and are prone to ear infections, yet they are allowed to keep their ears (but not their tails). Many sporting breeds do not have their tails docked while many working and non-sporting breeds do. These docked dogs are not running around in the brush. Yet, according to the AKC, some vague potential risk for future tail injury theoretically justifies docking every single puppy of certain breeds. One study of 12,000 canine cases over seven years found only 47 cases of tail injuries from any cause, or about 0.003%. Another reviewed 2,000 canine emergency cases and found only three tail injuries, all complications from docking. [34]

In July of 2009, Banfield discontinued cosmetic tail docking and ear cropping. Debarking has also been discontinued. According to Karen Faunt, DVM:

"Historically, tail docking and ear cropping were typically performed according to breed standards. However, there is little scientific evidence that these cosmetic procedures benefit dogs." [35]

Banfield is the largest veterinary practice in the world with over 730 hospitals and 2,000 vets in the U.S. Bans restricting cosmetic surgeries are being considered in New York and Illinois. [36]


Debarking of dogs involves the surgical removal of tissue from the vocal chords and is illegal in some parts of US. According to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers:

"Dogs bark for a reason, frequently because they are bored, lonely, threatened, or otherwise distressed. Debarking silences the dog without addressing the environmental issues that are causing the stress and the barking. The owner then has less reason to be aware of the environmental stressors, and little or no motivation to reduce or correct them, thus leaving the dog still distressed, but silent." [37]

However, since debarking is an abusive convenience tool used by breeders and researchers; it is predictably endorsed by AKC breeders. In this NAIA article, it has been renamed "bark softening". According to Charlotte McGowan "who has bred dogs for 50 years and been an AKC dog show judge for 30 years", it is "animal rights interests" who are attacking this "life saving procedure". Ms. McGowan has "had many dogs debarked over the years" and assures critics that the "usefulness of this procedure should not be ignored". She counters the "urban legend" that dogs are debarked by shoving a pipe down their throats. [38]

Urban legends notwithstanding, in August of 2009 Pennsylvania legally banned "tail docking after five days of age, debarking and surgical birth on dogs, unless performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian." Apparently, PA puppy millers were debarking (cutting or scarring a dog's vocal cords), tail docking and even performing Caesarean sections on dogs themselves without anesthesia. [39]

Other funding

Iams pet food

Eukanuba pet food sponsors the AKC Eukanuba National Championship. [40]

Eukanuba is manufactured by Iams. For nearly 10 months in 2002 and 2003, PETA conducted an undercover investigation at Sinclair Research Center, a contract laboratory for Iams pet food. The investigation found that dogs had gone crazy from intense confinement in barren steel cages and cement cells. Dogs were left piled on a filthy paint-chipped floor after chunks of muscle had been hacked from their thighs. They had also been surgically debarked. Severely ill dogs and cats languished in cages without veterinary care. Iams representatives toured the facility and witnessed dogs circling their cells and sweltering in the summer heat, yet did nothing about it. The USDA investigated PETA's complaint and cited the laboratory for failure to provide veterinary care and pain relief; adequate space; and employee training; along with almost 40 other violations of the Animal Welfare Act, [41] including failure to provide veterinary care, pain relief, adequate space and proper training. [42], [43] Sinclair paid a penalty of $33,000.[44] Shocking cruelty was also exposed in the United Kingdom in 2001. IAMS/Eukanuba's experiments on hundreds of animals caused kidney failure, obesity, malnutrition, liver damage, severe allergic reactions, stomach inflammation, diarrhoea, severe skin disorders, lesions, skin wounds and other painful illnesses.[45] See also Proctor & Gamble.

Board & staff


  • Dennis Sprung - President & CEO
  • Ron Menaker - Chairman
  • John Lyons - COO, Operations Center [46]
  • Dr. Thomas M. Davies - Vice Chairman

Board members

  • Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia
  • Dr. William R. Newman
  • Nina Schaefer, Secretary & past President, PA Federation of Dog Clubs
  • Dr. Patricia Haines
  • Ken Marden
  • Patti Strand, National Director, NAIA
  • Dr. Thomas M. Davies
  • Walter F. Goodman
  • Ronald H. Menaker
  • Lee Arnold
  • Carl C. Ashby, III
  • Alan Kalter
  • Dr. Robert D. Smith [47]


AKC Headquarters
260 Madison Ave
New York, NY 10016

AKC Operations Center
5580 Centerview Drive
Raleigh, NC 27606

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. American Kennel Club, Wikipedia, accessed January 2009
  2. About Clubs, American Kennel Club, accessed December 2008.
  3. Our Locations, AKC, accessed January 2009
  4. American Kennel Club,, accessed January 2009
  5. Laura Allen Rally Against The AKC's Support Of Puppy Mills, Bestfriends Network News, April 2007
  6. Highlights from the August 2008 Board Meeting, AKC News, August 2008
  7. Pet stores,, accessed January 2009
  8. Laura Allen Rally Against The AKC's Support Of Puppy Mills, Bestfriends Network News, April 2007
  9. Puppy Mills: Dogs Abused for the Pet Trade, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed February 2009
  10. Libby Williams Animal interest groups such as NAIA, Best Friends Network, January 2007
  11. Legislative Alerts: Current Issues in Canine Legislation, AKC, accessed August 2009
  12. AKC Announces Board of Directors Election Results, AKC News, March 2007
  13. 2007 Year End Review, AKC Taking Command, January 2008
  14. Walt Bebout Editors Note: Dog Owner's Rights Under Attack, AKC Taking Command, June 2006
  15. WE WON!!! Puppy Protection Act Defeated, Dog Press, April 2002
  16. The Crisis of Pet Overpopulation, Humane Society of the United States, May 2007
  17. Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, December 2009
  18. H.R. 3058: Puppy Protection Act,, 2002
  19. U.S. Senate Passes Farm Bill Addressing Animal Fighting, Puppy Mills, Farm Animals and Bears, HSUS, February 2002
  20. WE WON!!! Puppy Protection Act Defeated, Dog Press, April 2002
  21. Letters needed in opposition to the 'Puppy Protection Act', National Animal Interest Alliance Action Alert, accessed January 2009
  22. WE WON!!! Puppy Protection Act Defeated, Dog Press, April 2002
  23. Karen Delise Fatal Dog Attacks, the Truth Behind the Tragedy: It's the Owner, Not the Dog, National Canine Research Council, 2007
  24. Chained Dog Sites, Dogs Deserve Better, accessed January 2009
  25. American Kennel Club,, accessed January 2009
  26. A Certified Mess, Why Pennsylvania Needs Stronger Laws to Protect Dogs & Consumers, Consumers Against Pet Shop Abuse, December 2006
  27. Karl Stark Digging into the AKC: Taking cash for tainted dogs, Philidelphia Enquirer, December 1995
  28. The Politics of Dogs: Criticism of Policies of AKC, The Atlantic 1990, 265 (3), 49
  29. Patti Strand Urging a NO vote on SB 6408, NAIA, February 2008
  30. Animal Abuse in Korea: The True Price of Fur, In Defense of Animals, accessed July 2009
  31. Hell on Earth for Dogs in Korea, In Defense of Animals, accessed July 2009
  32. The Politics of Dogs: Criticism of Policies of AKC, The Atlantic, 1990, 265 (3), 49
  33. Jennifer Clark Crop/Dock Bans Threaten the Rights of All Dog Owners, AKC Taking Command, 2009
  34. Jean Hofve, DVM Cosmetic Surgery for Dogs and Cats: Tail Docking, Ear Cropping, Debarking, Declawing., Animal Protection Institute, accessed November 2009
  35. The Pet Hospital discontinues tail dock, ear crop and devocalization procedures, Banfield, July 2009
  36. Tail Docking & Ear Cropping, Dogged Health, 2009
  37. Surgical Debarking, Association of Pet Dog Trainers, January 2003
  38. Charlotte McGowan Debarking (Bark Softening) - Myths and Facts, NAIA, 2008
  39. Gov. Rendell Signs Bill to Combat Cruelty at Pa. Puppy Mills, HSUS, August 2009
  40. AKC/Eukanuba National Championship, AKC, accessed January 2009
  41. Animal Welfare Act and Regulations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, December 2009
  42. Sinclair Research Center, USDA Report, October 2006
  43. Animals Still Suffer at Iams,, accessed January 2009
  44. Animals Still Suffer at Iams: cruelty investigation,, accessed February 2009
  45. Iams... the suffering behind the 'science': IAMS/Eukanuba test on animals, Uncaged, accessed March 2010
  46. Our Locations, AKC, accessed December 2009
  47. AKC Board of Directors, AKC, accessed December 2009
  48. Contact AKC, AKC, accessed January 2009