What does Kennel Club registration tell you?
What does KC registration actually tell you about your dog? Well, first and foremost it tells you that your dog’s parents were registered with the Kennel Club, as were their parents before them. It also tells you that your dog belongs to a breed recognised by the Kennel Club. In some breeds records go back over a hundred years.
In principle KC registration should guarantee that your dog is pure-bred, in other words that his bloodlines contain only genetic information from other dogs of his breed for as far back as records exist. In practice this is not necessarily the case.
It is possible to cheat the system, and unscrupulous breeders have probably been doing so for generations. The reason that the system can be cheated is that you only have the breeder’s word for it, that the parents of the puppies are who the breeder says they are.
Until the advent of DNA testing it was not possible to prove the parentage of a puppy, and it is still not obligatory for a breeder to do so. Much relies on trust as it has always done. No doubt at some point all pure-bred puppies will be DNA profiled but for the time being it is important that you trust the breeder of your puppy.
KC registration and your dog’s health
The KC registration of your puppy also provides you with some information that is important with regard to your puppy’s future health. In the UK this information is still fairly limited.
KC registration in Britain tells you that your puppy is not the result of a mating between brother or sister, or of a mating between mother and son or father and daughter. This ban on very close breeding was introduced only recently and is an important one for the health of our dogs. Puppies resulting from very closely related parents are more likely to inherit genetic diseases.
KC registration in Britain also tells you that your puppy was not born to a bitch under a year old, or to a bitch over eight years old, or to a bitch that had already had six previous litters. These regulations are more relevant to the health of the bitch than your puppy but are important for the overall welfare of breeding dogs.
What KC registration does not tell you
In some countries KC registration with their Kennel Club gives you quite a bit more information about the health of your puppy’s parents. In the UK at the moment this is not the case, and although the KC has a raft of health tests which they recommend for each breed of dog, they will still register puppies from untested dogs or from parents that have been tested and have poor results.
For example, in the UK at the time of writing KC registration does not guarantee that you puppy’s parents have been hip scored, and if they have been hip scored, the KC will register the puppies even if the parents hip scores are terrible. It is entirely up to you, the buyer, to check the results.
It’s all in a name
Each KC registered dog is given a registered name. The first part of the name is normally the Affix registered by the breeder, all puppies registered by this breeder will have this name. The second part of the name is unique to your puppy, and again is usually chosen by the breeder.
Sometimes, especially if the litter of puppies is a ‘one-off’ and the breeder does not intend to breed regularly, he or she will not register an Affix. In which case the puppies will be registered with the Kennel Club’s own Affix. This changes depending on the year, but always begins with ‘Ken’. So if you see the name Kenmilfore, Kenmillix etc you will know that these are puppies bred by a breeder that does not own their own Affix and is probably a ‘casual’ breeder. The KC will for a fee also choose the second part of the name if the breeder does not wish to do so.
Affixes are usually important to a breeder and are a part of their reputation. Enabling their puppies to be identified as bred by them at any time in the future.
Some people are very disappointed to find that the dog they registered with the Kennel Club is barred from certain events. This can happen because the Kennel Club also run an Activity Register for mixed breed dogs whose owners want them to compete in KC events such as Agility competitions, and a Companion Dog Register.
Be sure that you know which register your puppy belongs to. He must be registered on the Breed Register in order to compete in KC dog shows, or Field Trials (gundogs). Unlike the breed register, the Activity Register, and Companion Register are not evidence of a pedigree, only the Breed Register is evidence of a dog’s ancestry.