Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Coton de Tulear AKC debate

Recently I received a Coton newsletter that denigrates AKC. It implies that AKC affiliation brings with it popularity, proliferation in so-called "puppy mills" and dogs entering shelters in large numbers. These sorts of claims are patently false.

Approximately 50 AKC breeds are truly rare. Some of these register less than 50 dogs per year. Sussex spaniel, English Foxhound, Puli, Otterhound, Dandie Dinmont terrier...these are rare breeds. On the other hand, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Coton breeders in existence. Cotons became popular without any involvement by AKC, and will continue to grow in popularity as they are promoted on breeder websites and exhibited in most all venues other than AKC. They are cute and cuddly and will continue to grow in popularity. Look out if Disney decides to feature a Coton in a movie! Now THAT would exponentially increase the popularity of the Coton.

This statement about breed acceptance into the AKC was recently made publicly by a Coton Club president:

"The number of abandoned Cotons waiting to die in shelters will add to the 7,600 AKC Registered dogs that are killed in America's shelters every single day."

A quick computation based on this statement...

7600 AKC dogs per day X 365 days in a year =

2.8 million AKC registered dogs killed by shelters every year.

This claim is absurd. Right now, AKC registers less than a million dogs per year. As a matter of fact, all the registrations from all US registries combined, don’t add up to 2.8 million dogs per year.

Shelters are not filling up with AKC registered dogs, or for that matter, with purebred dogs in general. The vast majority of intakes are mixed breeds.

If the Coton community wants to remain independent of AKC, that is certainly their right. However, make the decision based on facts, instead of lies, hype and hyperbole.

Here are some FACTS to ponder about AKC:

AKC is the ONLY registry to conduct regular inspections of high-volume breeders. A high-volume breeder is defined as one who registers more than six litters per year. AKC is not opposed to breeders who comply with current laws and meet USDA health and welfare requirements. However, if substandard conditions are found on inspection, the breeder will lose AKC privileges and may also be reported to local authorities. Every month there are published reports of breeders whose conditions were found to be substandard and who therefore have lost AKC privileges for a specified period of time….MANY YEARS. Usually ten years.

AKC is officially opposed to dog auctions, but is present where such activities are legally conducted in order to assure that registrations and transfers are accurately recorded. AKC further recommends that rescue groups do not support auctions by purchasing dogs at these events. AKC does not at this time oppose retail sales that are legally conducted. They are under extreme pressure from most of their member clubs to change that position….and most (if not all) AKC member clubs include prohibition in their codes of ethics of selling to pet stores or placing dogs by raffle or auction.

AKC registrations have declined dramatically over the past 15 years. This is due in large part to the proliferation of new registries such as APRI, CKC etc. Despite the drop in revenues, AKC continues to support the Canine Health Foundation, breeder educational seminars, the Canine Health Information Center, and the canine legislation department.

The legislation department is essential to the future of all dogs, as so-called “puppy mill” bills are rearing their ugly heads around the country. Virginia, Louisiana, Washington and Oregon all now limit the number of intact animals that may be kept. In some areas in Oregon, a breeder is considered to be “commercial” if he owns just 10 intact dogs. AKC considers anyone who registers more than six litters per year a "high volume breeder". Is such a breeder a “puppy mill”? Ridiculously, many people seem to believe so. Other states are attempting to institute similar restrictions on dog ownership.

AKC member clubs (breed parent clubs) all have codes of ethics which are individually drafted and may also address breed-specific concerns. These are considered to be guidelines for good practice…most address breeding, sales and sportsmanship… and thankfully, most are not set in stone. The individual clubs are responsible for implementing their codes of ethics as well as drawing up their own breed standards. In the final analysis, no registry or club can realistically guarantee compliance with all points in their codes of ethics.

Dog owners who neglect and abuse dogs are already breaking current animal welfare laws that exist in every state. Most often, these sort of people do not belong to any certain club or registry. Perhaps if they did, and had to submit to inspections we would see less neglect and abuse. Generally, the worst offenders of dog neglect and abuse are the ones who operate outside the mainstream confines of clubs, registries and the law.

When people refuse to patronize substandard breeders, they will disappear. Meanwhile, don't try to blame AKC for their existence. It's an argument that just doesn't hold water.


  1. Not all dogs that can be registered with AKC are registered, but there is a lot of AKC breeding of millions of dogs just to find one that will "win" in the breed ring. DITTO on the race horse industry. There ARE millions of dogs that are not registered because there is no reason to do so. The breeders and/or AKC will not allow for breeding unless certain stipulations are met therefore dogs are bred that have no papers. Cotons newsletter may or may not be exaggerating their figures but they hit the nail on the head.

  2. If this is true then why did the akc try to make a contract with pet land?