AKC delegates will vote on March 13 whether to recommend to the board of directors that the current seven Groups be further split into 11.

The realignment of breeds would make major changes to the Hound, Sporting and Working Groups. Hounds would be divided into Sight Hounds and Scent Hounds, the Sporting 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.

In response, the Dog Show Superintendents Association put out a poll last week to its members to “better understand the thinking of the Fancy and possibly how best to implement the new Variety Groups.”

A DSSA analysis of the issue states that the realignment “should have little impact on most shows at the Group level. Few shows have most or all breeds in the current seven Groups represented at that level. For those occasions where the Group Ring available is too small for the number of breeds, the Judge can divide the dogs as they do now with a large class in a breed.”

However, the DSSA further points out, “The addition of four Groups will add time to the length of a normal all-breed show day at a time when AKC is urging judging schedules be compressed and have no delays.” The organization estimates it will extend the average show by one to two hours, while offering the option of judging Groups concurrently or throughout the day as breed judging within a Group concludes. The DSSA notes that this would pose “other challenges,” but doesn’t elaborate.

The poll poses two essential questions: “Are you in favor of this proposal?” and “Why or why not?” It also asks whether the respondent is in favor of concurrent or as-possible Group judging.

Changes in the Groups were first proposed by a special realignment committee created in October 2007 to “align breeds that are similar in conformation, structure or function; improve judges’ education by building on similarities; accommodate new breeds within the Groups; increase entries/enhance exhibitor experience by providing additional opportunities for Group placement; and improve spectator understanding of dog shows,” according to the AKC.

A 2009 proposal to create 10 Groups, leaving the Working Group intact, was referred by delegates in March 2010 back to a re-formed committee for further work.

In a 2011 memo to the AKC Board and Delegates, the committee said, “The time has come.”

Should the board approve the breed reassignments, the changes would take effect sometime in 2015.

For further information, visit the AKC website FAQ page.

Revised 3/20/12 to correct the date of the delegate’s vote on this issue.