How often do you see a breed of dog that you can’t quite identify? There are well over 300 recognized breeds of dogs in the world, and today it seems that American dog show enthusiasts are more likely than ever to come across a purebred dog unfamiliar to them.
The American Kennel Club currently recognizes 174 breeds. Our neighbor to the north, the Canadian Kennel Club, recognizes 175 breeds. The Kennel Club in Great Britain registers 210 breeds, and the Fédération Cynologique Internationale recognizes more than 330 breeds.
In the United States, new AKC breeds are being recognized at a somewhat faster pace today than in the past. I vaguely remember when the Bichon, the Akita and the Beardie were new AKC breeds, although now I can hardly imagine a dog show without any one of them. Those three breeds, and five others, achieved AKC recognition in the 1970s, and at that time eight new breeds in 10 years seemed like a wealth to dog show fanciers.
Only four new breeds were recognized by AKC during the entire decade of the 1980s: the Australian Cattle Dog in 1980 and the Pharaoh Hound, Portuguese Water Dog and Tibetan Spaniel in 1983. No new breeds were accepted for the next six years, but when the ball got rolling again in 1990, with the recognition of the PBGV, it kept a steady pace, and a total of 16 new breeds came in during the 1990s.
Although it may seem that breeds achieve AKC recognition much more rapidly today than they once did, during the first 10 years of the 21st century only three more breeds were brought in than in the 1990s. Of the 19 breeds recognized between 2000 and 2009, however, six came in during 2009 alone. The following year, 2010, saw only three new breeds, and in 2011 the total again was six.
Bringing new breeds into AKC conformation rings slows considerably in 2012, with only two new breeds. The Treeing Walker Coonhound is the latest newcomer, and on June 27, 2012, the Russell Terrier will become AKC’s 175th breed.
The AKC Board of Directors is authorized to add new breeds to the list of AKC-recognized breeds based on several factors. The most significant, perhaps, is that the breed seeking recognition has been “breeding true” for many generations. Simplified, this means that when two dogs of the breed are mated to one another, they produce only offspring that, in appearance, are just like themselves.
Of paramount importance to getting a breed recognized are accurate ownership and pedigree records for the breed maintained over many generations. The AKC established its Foundation Stock Service program specifically to assist with keeping accurate records for these breeds.
Currently 61 breeds are part of AKC’s Foundation Stock Service. Just 14 of those breeds are in the Miscellaneous class, where each breed lands prior to full AKC recognition.
Entering the Foundation Stock Service
When fanciers involved with a breed that is new to AKC decide that they would like for their breed to become AKC-recognized, they approach the American Kennel Club and fill out a questionnaire to begin the process. AKC requires a written history of the breed seeking to enter the FSS that must track the existence of the breed over “many decades,” and the source of this history must be provided. There must also be a written breed standard in place, and fanciers must provide photographs of several specimens of the breed, both adults and puppies, including photos of any possible varieties.
Once a breed is accepted into the Foundation Stock Service, fanciers are encouraged to do several things before the breed moves to the Miscellaneous class:
- • Form a strong national breed club and encourage people involved with the breed from around the country to become involved. A membership of approximately 100 households is desirable before a breed moves into Miscellaneous, although that number can vary.
- • Create a breed standard that conforms to AKC’s “Guidelines for Writing Breed Standards.”
- • Form committees within the established parent club, such as perhaps rescue, health and education, and name a liaison to keep AKC apprised of the club’s activities.
- • Encourage fanciers with dogs not recorded with FSS to do so, as a minimum of 150 dogs with complete three-generation pedigrees should be on record before movement to Miscellaneous is considered. AKC prefers that the dogs be owned by many different people in different parts of the country.
Now the parent club will maintain contact with AKC regarding activity within the breed. Interest in some breeds is strong, with numerous active fanciers, and naturally those breeds progress through the system toward full recognition much more quickly than others.
Being part of the FSS affords numerous benefits to fanciers and their dogs. The most obvious, of course, is that AKC provides a proven system where they can maintain ownership, pedigree and litter records. AKC staff has the experience to provide invaluable assistance to fanciers who want to continue to protect and improve their breed. Many FSS breeds are also eligible to compete in companion and performance events.
AKC’S FSS Breeds
The current list of AKC Foundation Stock Service breeds includes a fascinating variety of dogs. Many of these breeds have been recognized by foreign kennel clubs for years; indeed, 51 of the 61 are FCI breeds, 23 are recognized by the Kennel Club in Great Britain, and nine of the breeds are CKC-recognized in Canada. Another American registry, the 114-year-old United Kennel Club, already recognizes 52 of AKC’S FSS breeds.
Only four FSS breeds are recognized by all four of the above-mentioned registries: the German Longhaired Pointer, the Hovawart, the Spanish Water Dog and the Eurasier. The German Longhaired Pointer is quite an old gundog breed that originated, of course, in Germany. Its breed standard was first written in the 1870s, and in the early 1900s the Large Munsterlander became a color variation of the German Longhaired Pointer, the Munsterlander being black and white while the GLP is always brown (liver) or a brown roan.
The Hovawart is another very old German breed, this one a farm dog that originated as a livestock dog and guardian of the home. The Hovawart Club of North America calls it “one of the oldest breeds that still exists today,” and the breed is reported to have been saved from extinction in the 1920s when a group of fanciers began to revive it. The breed was officially recognized in Germany in 1937.
The Spanish Water Dog is another breed believed to have ancient origins that was resurrected in the 20th century. The breed’s origins seem to trace to the 10th century, and it was used as an all-around working dog, on land for driving and guarding goats, pigs and perhaps even cows, and in the water for setting and retrieving nets, and guarding the catch and boats. In the 1970s, admirers in Europe began efforts to restore the breed, using stock from many different areas, and the breed was officially recognized by the kennel club in Spain in 1985. The Eurasier is a spitz-type dog developed in Germany in the 1960s, and the breed has gained popularity around the world.
One AKC FSS breed is not recognized by any of the aforementioned registries. The South African Boerbel is a Mastiff-type breed said to have originated in South Africa from stock brought in by Dutch traders who landed at the Cape of Good Hope in the 1600s. The breed is not recognized by kennel clubs in the U.K. and Canada or by the FCI, but is a Foundation Stock Service breed in the Kennel Union of Southern Africa.
Two additional FSS breeds are not recognized by any of the above registries, both distinctly American breeds. The Miniature American Shepherd descends directly from Australian Shepherd stock. It is believed that the original stock of Aussies was selectively bred to produce larger dogs when sheep ranching began to decline and cattle ranching took its place, thus perpetuating the need for larger dogs. But in the late 1960s in Southern California, several horsemen and horsewomen began to work on breeding the smaller Australian Shepherds so that they would have a dog that could not only work stock, but would also be small enough to travel easily to trials and make a compact housedog. The result is the Miniature American Shepherd.
Another FSS breed created in the U.S. is the Treeing Tennessee Brindle, developed by preserving the hunting dogs that were specifically of the brindle coloration.
Many of the other FSS breeds claim ancient origins, while some are more modern iterations. All of the breeds enjoy the devotion of fanciers in at least one region of the world, as well as fanciers in America who hope to see them recognized by AKC one day.
Entering the Miscellaneous Class
When all of AKC’S criteria have been met and fanciers have demonstrated a sincere dedication to seeing their breed recognized, AKC will put the breed in the Miscellaneous class. Of course, further devotion to the process is now required before the breed can move to the final level.
Before a breed can achieve full recognition, its breed standard must be approved by the AKC Board of Directors. Generally breeds must be in the Miscellaneous class for a minimum of one year before moving forward, although if a breed has more than 1,000 dogs on record with three generations of documented parentage, then that club can request full recognition after six months in Miscellaneous.
Perhaps most important, fanciers within a breed must continue to record their dogs and litters with AKC, and the parent club must demonstrate that it is holding regular meetings and activities, and conducting its business as would be expected from an AKC parent club.
Fanciers who have been part of achieving AKC recognition for their breeds will tell you that it was well worth the years of effort that it took to reach their goal. The Foundation Stock Service allows those who are interested in perpetuating a breed within the United States a strong and reliable framework through which to pursue that goal, and helps fulfill AKC’s commitment to ensuring the continuation of purebred dogs.