Papers and Pedigree: More than Ink

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The registration certificate of the American Kennel Club, known commonly as AKC, is an important document if you have a dog with a pedigree.

The world of competitive dog shows is highly controlled and regulations are strict. The AKC is the final authority for American dogs and pedigree validation. The certificate gives you bragging rights, the right to breed your canine as a purebred, and the right to show your dog in a conformation show ring.

When you bring your puppy home from a reputable breeder, you can register your dog with the AKC. The puppy should be registered as a member of a litter by the breeder. The buyer gets a blue slip giving the names of sire and dam, the breeder,and a physical description of the puppy; the slip must be filled out with the puppy’s name and the buyer’s signature.

The AKC offers new owners a package deal with their registration: AKC Pet Insurance, which is 30 days of free pet health insurance; VetNET, a free initial vet appointment; AKC ReuniteSM, a custom collar tag and 24/7/365 protection; and access to AKC’s GoodDogSM Training. This package will get you through the first 30 days with your new puppy and give you time to investigate other options. You also receive a one-year subscription to the AKC Family Dog magazine and a dog care and training video. Your dog becomes eligible to participate in AKC events such as agility, obedience, tracking, field trials, dog shows, junior showmanship and many more.

For purebred dogs, there is little question that the AKC registration certificate is a valuable part of the canine’s history, but what about the pooch you got at the shelter because it was so cute? Probably not.

Not so fast! There are benefits to registering your shelter dog with the AKC even if it is not purebred. First of all, it will entitle you and your dog to compete in several AKC-sponsored events such as the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. The program evaluates both purebred and mixed-breed dogs of all ages. The ten-step evaluation certifies that the dog has good manners at home and in public. Once the course has been passed, the owner can continue with other programs or courses if she desires. The CGC test is given in a simulated situation; other tests are given in a natural environment. The AKC Community Canine test is to determine the dog’s ability to behave well in the community, and the AKC Urban Canine Good Citizen is for dogs that live in an urban environment in which there are cars, streets to be crossed, noises and distractions.

In addition to obedience training, you want a dog that can follow the instincts of its breed. Most mixed-breed dogs show traits of their ancestors even if there was an accident or two along the way. The AKC sponsors many sporting events for dogs. The obedience, agility, rally, tracking, scent work and performance events are open to all dogs of all ages.

Okay, all you want is a puppy for your kids. You don’t need the hassle of training your dog to do special tricks or achieve different goals. Well, why not encourage the kids to do it? Too often, dogs get minimal training and are a nuisance to everyone. They are poor companions and a bother to any visitor in your home. When dogs are left on their own for most of the day, they quickly become bored and even destructive. What better way to encourage responsibility in the kids than to have the kids bond with their pets by teaching them new tricks? It could be a boost to a shy child’s ego to have a dog eager to please them by learning new tricks. When the tricks are learned, the dog is ready for competition with others.

There’s really nothing wrong with having a pet that is just a pet. If the dog is well trained, however, it’s more fun and safer to have around. It is far better to invest in training classes than to have a tragedy occur by the dog bolting in front of an oncoming car. Classes are available in many locations, including your local pet supply store.

For many people, it matters little if they have an AKC registration or not. The real value of having the registration is the ability to breed purebred dogs and the ability to show the dog in AKC-sponsored shows. Otherwise, it’s just an expensive piece of paper. If you have gotten a beautiful puppy from a breeder who is happy to show you her kennels, show you the parents and, in general, has a good reputation, then what more do you need? Enjoy your new pooch and forget about the paperwork.

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