The American Kennel Club is the only dog registry in the United States that maintains a policy outlining the conditions under which breeding dogs should be maintained and the care they should receive and that conducts inspections to assure that its policy guidelines are met. The AKC’s Care and Conditions of Dogs policy was updated as of June 1, 2012.

Beginning in 1991, the AKC Compliance Department was given the funding for a “dedicated proactive inspections team.” AKC claims that since 2000 it has conducted more than 45,000 kennel inspections across the country. Kennel inspections are random for breeders who register from four to six litters of puppies per year. Breeders who register from seven to 24 litters per year are reportedly inspected on an 18-month cycle, although those that have passed two consecutive inspections may have the next inspection waived. This allows AKC to free up resources to inspect other facilities, and also rewards breeders and kennel operators who are consistent in their compliance with AKC policies.

The AKC Care and Conditions of Dogs policy includes a requirement that dogs have access to play and exercise, as well as positive human interaction, on a daily basis. Photo by Can Stock Photo Inc./Gert.

An inspection may also occur if a complaint is filed with AKC about a kennel, regardless of the number of litters bred. AKC routinely inspects kennels whose owners register more than 25 litters annually.

The AKC agent is tasked with looking at the breeder’s dog and litter records and other paperwork to be sure that it meets AKC requirements, to examine the kennel facilities indoors and out, and to see all of the dogs in the breeder’s care to be sure that they are being housed, fed, watered and generally cared for in a responsible and humane way.

AKC inspectors also seek to educate those who breed dogs for profit in how best to house and care for dogs. The “first time inspection” program is designed to help new breeders by giving them “insight into what has worked for thousands of other breeders.” Inspectors also conduct DNA testing via cheek swab in the event that the parentage of particular dogs is in question or record keeping is not in order.

In addition to the basics already covered by the AKC’s Care and Conditions policy, the new guidelines emphasize several aspects of canine care that directly impact each individual dog, including the importance of positive interaction with humans on a daily basis, as well as socialization in general, and maintaining staff proportionate to the number of dogs being kept. The new guidelines also require that kennels have an emergency preparedness plan appropriate for the facility in question and, in instances where euthanasia is necessary, that it always be performed in a humane manner.

If AKC inspectors find that a breeder is not compliant in any way, the individual may face temporary suspension of AKC privileges. In cases of suspension of AKC privileges, owners are given 45 days to correct the problems outlined in writing by AKC, which will then be verified on re-inspection before privileges are reinstated. If inhumane, unhealthy or dangerous conditions are discovered, inspectors may report this to local, state or federal authorities. Any individual convicted of animal cruelty is automatically suspended from all AKC privileges.

Learn more about the AKC inspection program, and read the updated policy in its entirety here.