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AKC Delegates Say ‘No’ to Group Realignment

American Kennel Club delegates voted down a proposal to split the existing seven Groups into 11 that would have mainly affected the Sporting, Hound and Working Groups.

With three new delegates elected and seated earlier in the quarterly delegates meeting on March 13, the recommendation of a special 4-year-old committee was defeated by a vote of 231 to 165. The amendments to “Rules Applying to Dog Shows” required a two-thirds vote. If 16 delegates had voted “yes,” rather than “no,” it would have passed, says AKC Group Realignment Committee Chair Dr. Tom Davies.

Had the committee’s recommendation been approved, Hounds would have been divided into Sighthounds and Scenthounds, the Sporting Group breeds would move into two separate Pointer and Setter, and Retriever and Spaniel groups, and the Working Group would become three groups: Working-Utility, Working-Molosser, and Working-Spitz. In addition, several breeds in Non-Sporting and Herding would move to other Groups. The changes would have taken effect in mid-2015.

“There was definitely a misunderstanding that this is going to cost somebody a huge bunch of bucks to implement,” Davies says.

“We’ve had dozens of people contact us to tell us it would have been better instituted in pieces rather than all at once. If they’re concerned about how much it’s going to cost, it’s going to cost just as much,” regardless of how it’s implemented, he says.

His sense is that this misperception about cost was the major reason it didn’t pass.

He also says some clubs objected to the title of the proposed Working-Molosser Group, feeling that it was the Group for “big, scary” dogs. Davies says it’s simply a term for Mastiff-type dogs.

Something that upset him, he adds, was the many delegates who told him at the meeting that they supported the realignment, but their clubs didn’t. He says his own club, the Springfield Kennel Club, was opposed until he explained it to the members.

Although the committee has not met since the vote, Davies says he has no intention of letting the initiative founder.

“What I’d dearly love to do is get people to discuss in more detail their opposition to it,” he says, “and what we might have done differently that might have convinced them to accept it.”

He points out that if, in 1983, the Working and Herding Groups hadn’t been split, it would now be of an unmanageable size. “At that point in time, my wife and I bred Belgian Sheepdogs. A Group placement was rare. Since then, people have seen that these are good breeds, and they now do well in the Groups.” He says many breeds are “seldom awarded” and in smaller Groups “would get more of their day in the sun.”

A list of realignment FAQs on the AKC website includes this projection about the increase in the number of breeds per Group between July 1, 2011, and 2014 if new Groups are not created:

  • • Sporting grows from 29 to 39;
  • • Hound, from 28 to 41;
  • • Working, 28 to 42;
  • • Terrier, 29 to 31;
  • • Toy, 23 to 25;
  • • Non-Sporting, 20 to 23; and
  • • Herding, 26 to 38.

To see Best In Show Daily Master Blogger Billy Wheeler’s take on this growth in breeds, click here.

For now, Davies says, the committee will “sit tight for a bit. Again, it just depends on getting the whole process and concept understood by more people. We are traditionally a traditional bunch, and change is hard to effect. But I think it’s all good for what we want.”

The Dog Show Superintendents Association posted a poll in mid-January regarding the proposal, then sent a letter to delegates on February 21, 2012, detailing “problems to be understood and addressed before implementing this change” and asking them to “consider all of the factors before voting.” Included in the list of problems were longer shows due to more Group judging, possibly less TV coverage because of the longer judging day, and costs for more judges, judges’ expenses, rosettes and AKC staff time to redo documentation and forms related to dog shows and judging.

The letter, similar to one sent to delegates before a vote in 2009, concluded by saying that the “time is not now” for the realignment to be approved. Bob Christiansen is president of the DSSA.

The realignment committee responded with its own letter, rebutting most of the DSSA’s points and questioning the “the appropriateness of vendors (whom we hire to administer our shows) attempting to influence the policies and operation of our events for their own self-interest.” The letter also pointed out that Group assignments are ultimately decided by the AKC Board of Directors which would consider input from parent clubs before moving breeds from one Group to another.

To see the proposed lineup of breeds by Group, click here.

Written by

Susan Chaney has been on the editorial side of publishing since 1990, starting her career as a newspaper features writer and editor. A lifelong lover of dogs, Susan has lived with German Shepherds, Labs, Yorkies, an Irish Setter, a Great Dane-Bloodhound mix, a Sheltie and currently a Chihuahua mix of unknown pedigree. She was the editor of Dog Fancy magazine, content editor of DogChannel.com and group editor of Dog World, Dogs USA, Puppies USA, Natural Dog, Cat Fancy, Cats USA and Kittens USA from March 2005 to December 2009 when she left her position to work at home, part-time. Susan lives in Long Beach, Calif., with her artist husband, Tim, that Chi mix and two big cats. As an editor and writer for Best In Show Daily, she is reveling in the amalgam of three loves: writing, editing and dogs.
  • Bruce E. Voran March 24, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    What hasn’t been made clear in Susan Chaney’s article or Billy Wheeler’s Blog is an analysis of each of the breeds currently in FSS/Miscellaneous that “potentially” could attain Regular Status–a status needed to compete for championship points and therefore, be counted in the numbers of each Group. A study of the number of dogs in each breed that currently are registered by AKC, the number of members each breed has in that breed’s parent club, whether a breed’s parent club actually exists, and what activities are happening under the direction of each breed’s parent club is information currently not available.
    Additionally, what are AKC’s requirements that have to be met before a breed is moved from FSS/Miscellaneous status into Regular Status. A comparison between AKC’s requirements and each FSS/Miscellaneous breed’s status as outlined may prove that not all of the 60 or so breeds in FSS/Miscellaneous will ever in the near or far distant future be added to AKC’s current Groups. An unfavorable analysis may indicate that group expansion at this time is unnecessary.

  • Lynda beam March 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    I believe that doing this in pieces would actually cost more in time and money, far better to think ahead and get it done at once. Takes longer to judge one huge group than two smaller groups especially when the quality is high.

  • Leonore March 24, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    I’d like to see a detail of which club voted how. That way members of those clubs can educate their Delegates. This needs to get passed, and the sooner the better.

  • John March 28, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Tom is a very bright man who surrounded himself with a committee of equally bright and forward thinking individuals. They worked long and hard on this proposal and it is sad to see it scuttled. Discussion of increased cost and time appeares to cloud the real issue of individuals unable to cope with change. Equally disturbing were the more selfish motives of some breeds fearing realignment or those who did not wish the points awarded in Group competition to change. Seems like old times to those who lived through the birth of the Herding Group. I don’t think this plan will resurface for some time.

  • Kay March 28, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    My club asked our delegate to vote “NO” on this issue. Changing from the current 7 groups to 11 is of no benefit to our breed nor to holding all breed shows. First of all, group size under the expanded group proposal ranges from 16 to over 30. Small deviations in size are reasonable and unavoidable but major deviations are not. Second, you now have 4 more sets of ribbons and trophies to purchase – not to mention the cost of additional judges or the time it takes to judge additional groups. Lastly, some of the “new” breeds in the FSS/Miscellaneous being considered don’t even have ONE parent club but multiple clubs claiming to be the parent. AKC is in such a rush to approve new breeds that they are ignoring their own requirements for this.

  • jaimie Smith March 31, 2012 at 8:29 PM


    this is a very interesting topic.

    I don’t know what AKC plans to do now, stop recognizing breeds to keep the number of breeds in a group down? Or will they keep letting breeds in and keep the original groups.

    I think that the idea of eleven groups is kind of ‘scary’. it’s a major change and with ALL these changes happening within these couple years its understandable not to want this one. But out of all the changes made and proposed, I think this would be the one that is truly important and matters.

    The breeds in the Miscellaneous class really really want in. But if the group sizes keep growing it will be a lot harder to achieve group wins for these new breeds.

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