That’s not how that actually works you know… a.k.a. The AKC is not the enemy and why you sound stupid when you say so.

20 Jun

A few months ago a short piece aired on HBO (Home Box Office for them there fancy folks) charmingly titled ‘Unnatural Selection’ on their ‘Real Sports’ program. The theme, was of course, supposed to be Dog Breeding, showing and the pitfalls therein. Not really a friendly topic in dog circles, but it is topical if somewhat delayed from the ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed’ kerfuffle from a few years ago and more recently its sequel.

 

Fuck airing that dirty laundry, let’s launch that shit at pedestrians!

 

The reality of the program however it was… well not.

 

Dog-based documentaries will do it quicker.

 

While PDE was incredibly well researched and maintained, while not a balanced but a mostly fair critique (To a point) of the dog breeding establishment, the folks at Real Sports took a different tack. Their overwhelming hypothesis as it turned out was “The American Kennel Club sucks hairy herpe-d balls so neener neener”.

 

We expected more, Bryant.

 

Honestly, the general content of the program was laughable The bulldog owner was clearly a dumb-ass (You get not one but two English Bulldogs and you expect them to be a paragon on health? Come the fuck on.), Mr. UKC came across as a dillweed* (Seriously dude, discretion is the better part of valor) and the AKC PR machine clearly screwed the figurative pooch on interview prep for that one but the biggest assholes were by far and away the “reporters” involved in the pap that they passed off as hard-hitting docutainment. Their fact-checkers were clearly either ocupado or set on ‘What the fuck ever. This isn’t football’ mode. So we’re here to clear some things up.

Right Back to Whore Island! Straight back!

 

 

1) The AKC is first and foremost a registry business

Boogie on Down

 

It’s a 130 year old business to be precise. The AKC is paid to keep the records, run the events and be the governing body in the American Dog Fancy. In return they dump a lot of that right back into research and lobbying and bigass events to raise more money for more of those things.

 

2) The AKC does not mandate breed standards.

 

You figure it out, asshole.

 

Those AKC standards that people keep harping on about? Those are not created nor altered by the AKC. Who can alter that shit? That would be the breed clubs for $500, Alex.

 

3) The Breed Clubs are not the AKC

Which one of these things is not like the others…

 

 

The breed clubs function with basic autonomy from the AKC proper. They follow their rules (mostly) and they can play their games and earn their titles. What the breed club deems acceptable is what is in the standard and more importantly what is acceptable in the fashion which you can kind of think of as the unwritten expectations in many breeds.

 

4) The fashion is what drives extremity, not the standard

I invented the Piano Key Necktie!

 

Standards, go figure, are open to interpretation. Different interpretations can give you massive type distinctions within a single breed. If one dog of an extreme type becomes inexplicably popular the fashion is then set and the vision of some breeders will shift to adapt to this new shiny ideal. How do you stop the shiny object drift? Easy, education.

 

5) Judge and Breeder education is mandated by Breed Clubs

 

It’s completely untouched! Mint Condition!

 

Again, not in the AKC’s purview. Breed education is set forth by the clubs themselves. Judges need to learn the extremes and they can’t do that if the clubs aren’t showing them what it is they should reward.

 

Clear as mud?

 

Now, all that being said, we are hardly apologists for the AKC. As a registry and arbiter of dog events, there is certainly room for a lot of improvement and these are just our off-the-cuff ideas.

 

1) Some tighter reins on the breed clubs who are being deliberately ridiculous (I know, dog people being insane? Say it ain’t so!) would be nice. We’re not saying they have to shove modifications of the standard to reduce extremity and mandatory health testing down the breed clubs’ throats, but holding them down and making them chew on it a little isn’t the worst idea.

 

Duh. Now, learn to like it or else.

 

2) A more concerted effort to educate John Q Public on what “papers” actually mean and how a registration number doesn’t actually equate quality. Or even better, make “papers” mean something again. See above point.

 

Same value in some cases

 

 

3) Infuse some youth into the organization. We’re not saying the Board of Directors is a Crypt Keepers’ convention but they could certainly be mistaken for one. The old guard has great value and should always be a part of the dog fancy, but in neglecting the reality that is a severely aging population of dog fanciers. They will cause their own extinction.

 

More Top Knot!!!

 

4) PR isn’t just for nightclubs and politicians. Playing catch-up is fine and dandy but a proactive move in supporting and hell, praising, your good examples of responsible breeders and why they are needed in the first place? Probs a good idea.

 

Fuck yes, I did.

 

 

4.5) Also, AKC, you should probably stop sending reps to dog auctions. It isn’t helping anyone, but that’s a whole other topic for another day.

 

They Pizza-ed when they should have French-Fried

 

 

When  it boils right down, the reality is there will likely never be a documentary that can truly and fairly capture the sport of dog showing and dog breeding. (Unless Best In Show counts, they pretty much hit the nail on the head) There’s an incredible amount of time, money, passion, and insanity that goes into the sport and it really just can’t be captured in ninety minutes by a filmmaker that has already decided on an angle he wanted to pursue going in to the filming.

 

“But TDS,” you say. “The AKC is horrible and murdered my dog/my mother/my garbage man!”

 

To you we say, “Pish Posh!” if you have an issue with the AKC either don’t play, or even better, join an AKC club and begin the change from the inside. We’re all for impotent bitching when it’s relevant, but the case of the AKC, lots of decisions are delegate driven. Of course it’s not perfect, and it never will be, this is the life of human-driven hobbies. It certainly however, can’t get better without working together rather than fracturing into 1000 useless pieces. We are all in this shit-storm of zero or just plain bad PR together, and even the most uptight among us has to admit, this is a hobby for odd ducks.

 

Damn right, Emilio.

 

 

… So we’re stuck together no matter who’s in charge.

 

*Fang regularly plays in the UKC and this interview was a serious turn-off. There is no functional difference between people who breed AKC or UKC dogs. They both have good and bad breeders and they both are registries which means driven by money. Presenting it as the avenging angel vs. the big bad Goliath… no. Not cool Wayne and a massive disservice to the UKC. If you can’t make your point without dragging down others, you probably need a better point, and the sad part is, you do have a good one buried under the vitriol.

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21 Responses to “That’s not how that actually works you know… a.k.a. The AKC is not the enemy and why you sound stupid when you say so.”

  1. bgszap2 June 20, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Not long ago my dog was beaten at a show by a dog brought down from Canada, who had a rear end that made it appear to be holding a beach ball.
    While there was nothing I could do about the loss (and I was not alone in my assessment of the winning ….dog.) I went to the AKC rep and requested that she sit in on the next class so that she could see what the Judge who clearly had h9t read the standard, was putting up.
    When the dog won his BOW the Rep, two other Judges and a professional Handler visited with the Judge about her decisions and the standard. It didn’t change the win but it made me feel better that there was someone there to whom I could officially complain.
    My mistake was probably not carrying it far enough and filing a formal objection but I may be showing under that Judge again sometime, so I didn’t.
    Now, with a little more experience, I think I would.

    • Cynthia D. Eliason June 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      But why would you want to show under that judge again?

      • houndsofgrey June 27, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

        Some people show only locally or conveniently. Myself, I’m not a fan of the way some dogs are run around the country, chasing favorite (and favorable) judges, finishing while they’re still puppies.

  2. Chris June 20, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    Ah yes. We are none responsible and yet all guilty. The breed clubs are definitively more fucked up than the AKC. I can’t join a single one because I cannot, with a straight face and uncrossed fingers, state that I will uphold the breed standard to chop off the tails of puppies I produce. It’s totally unnecessary, but more to the point, it totally fucking hurts. A big middle finger up to you all who think it does not. How would I change the standard? Hide my uncropped dog, take down every post against tail and ear cropping I ever wrote, wear a mustache and a wig and join the club. So perhaps, maybe, in three years I can get on the board with the rest of the fat, old people, and then convince them to change the standard? I can only hope they all die sooner than that, which judging by their slow wheeze and impressive waist line isn’t too far off. Frankly, the market changes faster than people minds, especially those stuck in a nostalgic rut of what the breed was in their delusion recollection of the 60s when Wycliffe single handedly ruined the poodle breed. Its going to be easier to create your own club then join the nazi regime options we have before us. Hell, I’ve tried three times to join a club, and each time I stop hearing from them. Even when I paid! So kudos to the PDE, however biased, for making the general population ask uncomfortable questions. If you aren’t ready to answer the questions, then stop breeding dogs.

    I agree with the article, those damn clubs are doing damage. But I won’t let the AKC off the hook. They can’t regulate breeders paperwork only when they haven’t brought in enough revenue to make it worth their while not to. My biggest issue is that the AKC allows registration of large commercial dog operation’s litters. You can’t call them “breeders” because they don’t care about the dogs. Nothing living in a cage its whole life is cared about. (that includes those fish on your counter, they don’t want to be there.) And I would say that a thousand dogs a year must certainly be a flag that you are neither giving the dogs the time and treatment they deserve, nor are you worthy of living. All together I’d say the AKC just doesn’t impress me, because they claim to care about dogs and then look the other way when the money flag is waived. But neither does anyone else. ‘Tis the all mighty dollar that speaks. Fuck Citizens United, and the AKC for that matter.

  3. Amanda June 20, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    yup get over it people.. AKC is a paper and record keeping service.. No different than the DMV for your car.. yet.. crappy conditions.. oh well they where AKC dogs.. no mention how the state or USDA failed to shut them down.. sick puppy.. how about the person or “gasp” the petstore who sold you the dog? or hell the breeder who sold the dog to the store??

    nope the AKC is to blame.. kind of like saying well I have a GM car part of the recall.. guess I blame the DMV because they issued a title..

  4. Tiffany Marshall June 20, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    And I hate the BYB’ers & casual breeders who use AKC as a selling point to entice ignorant buyers….. AKC registered puppies!! So what?? With a good breeder, pups registered is a given, not something mentioned to bring in buyers…

  5. Julie June 20, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Yeah, Technically it’s a record keeping registry. But this is a BS post that again defends the AKC and you’ve obviously fallen into their PR machine. Bad on you dog snobs. Yes, the HBO story was biased, and yes breed clubs set the standard, but the AKC does have a huge amount of influence in many areas that need some attention for the health of dogs in the USA. And yet, the AKC chooses to sit back behind the screen of “were just a registry” while spend $$$ to essentially encourage anyone with an intact male/female to breed breed breed and for people to buy buy buy. While I don’t agree with “trickle down” Reaganomics, I do feel that the largest dog organization in the country with a core value that includes “We protect the health and well-being of all dogs”, I do feel the AKC is criminal in their “ignorance is bliss, we’re just a registry” BS. Let’s see, they could choose to NOT register double merle breedings that lead to deafness/blindness. They could choose to not register dogs that are being breed in puppy mills in atrocious conditions (they have like 5 inspectors for the entire fucking country for all breeding). They could choose not to register dogs that are docked/cropped, because come on, cosmetic surgery on a dog is, well, inhumane. So I do hold them accountable because they are in a position to make change, but choose not to. So yeah, HBO got it wrong, but HBO is also the David in this story. So stop defending Goliath.

    • TheDogSnobs June 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

      No, not technically a record keeping registry, it is a registry.

      1) They have a lot of influence but less than you seem to believe.

      2) Where do they encourage any asshole to breed two dogs? And not to point to the obvious, but people do that anyway. Papers are “fancy” and rarely sold with the worst offenders.

      3) They could choose not to do a lot of things, but they don’t because that’s not how the organization is designed. They allow the breed clubs to make those decisions. There are movements within many, if not most clubs that penalize deliberately dangerous breeding but not all do. Cropping and docking is still very much the norm in the US, so that’s not even something addressable.

      4) When David is acting like an uneducated douche-bag, yes we will “defend” Goliath.

  6. laurararah June 20, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    I ❤ my breed club.

    My dog is a gun dog/bird dog type and they could definitely have gone with the "blocky" type of look that labs and goldens have become. They realize that this look is not ideal for the field (smaller legs, neck, and backs does not make for a versatile breed that can leap over logs or far into the water) and they prefer to breed along the "form follows function" ideal. They've already kicked out a few kennels who were breeding blockier dogs.

    They're also sticklers for health and temperament testing. Sometimes it's better to own a rare breed because the breed club hasn't lost control yet.

  7. tvignogna June 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    *make “papers” mean something again.* Yes, Please! I am tired of telling folks who own pet store dogs that toilet paper is more valuable than their “papers.”

    Extremes in breeds annoy me. The Neopolitan Mastiff has morphed from a somewhat jowly dog to a pile of molten flesh.

    The only papers my dog has is his adoption papers……………………………….

  8. melissamyers0117 June 20, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Except….
    The AKC profits from the registrations from commercial breeders (aka puppy mills), and…adding insult to that injury, financially supports legislation in the form of PACs (political action committees) and lobbyists to keep those operations in business under the guise (and fear) that if there’s legislation regulating commercial breeding conditions that it’ll impact ALL breeders, commercial or not. While the AKCs history might be “just a registration” in mission, their reality is profiting from the commercial breeding industry. In my mind, if you are willing to accept registrations from commercial breeders, you have a moral responsibility to the dogs therein. Unfortunately, often times where there is money involved, morals are out the window.

    I appreciate the attempt to offer an alternative point of view. And it think you are right…in that, the AKC is not the only evil in world of commercial dog breeding…its also everyone affiliated with the AKC – which is all of us who participate in their programs.

    • TheDogSnobs June 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

      Of course they profit. They’re a business, that’s their job.

      Because all that lovely legislation, while it looks good in theory, penalizes the shit out of the hobby breeders. The people who keep purebred dogs around, and it’s not a guise, if you actually read the legislation. My personal dog clubs had a fit with the last “Legislative scare” and I rolled my eyes, until I actually read what was being proposed.

      Moral responsibility starts and ends with the individual. The AKC is not the evil of commercial dog breeding, commercial dog breeding is the evil. Placing blame at the feet of the AKC is just inaccurate. Can they do more? Absolutely, and we said as much. But they’re playing appeasement games with kennel inspections etc. 60,000 + in the last 3 years? Five Years? I’d have to dig up the info. For an organization not designed nor intended to regulate the actions of individual outside their events, they’re giving it a try, which is more than you can say for anybody else.

      • houndsofgrey June 21, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

        From my perspective, the trendy new legislation hurts RESCUES more than anything… here we’ve got surprise inspections of kennels (and the wrath of put-out public servants upon us if we don’t happen to have someone staffing the kennel that minute) and limits on how long a dog can be kept by an adoption group before it needs to be moved out of our hands one way or another… this has precisely zero effect on any breeder I know of in my area, because the rule is that you only fall under the heading of “seller” if you move more than 15 dogs a year. True, puppy mills and shit BYB’s might do that kind of volume, but they also likely keep the dogs “at home” which means all they have to do is keep the place clean enough to avoid being demoed by the city and they pass inspection. Meanwhile, we’re given one month to shift the dogs, and the result is either fewer dogs taken in (and therefore fewer adoptions) or rushed placements out of desperation that likely don’t work out and now we’ve got a bounced dog and that’s extra stress on the animals.

        In other words: the legislation the AKC and other groups are fighting is poorly thought-out and doesn’t do a damned thing about the actual problem.

  9. MT June 21, 2014 at 5:18 am #

    AKC has never been just a registry with a hands off approach to standards (especially if they might restrict future registrations or are too loose for their tastes), tends to invent it’s own breed groups if a group doesn’t want to come in, and sometimes even smacks a new name on breeds to bring in breeds by hook or by crook, and has always been about exclusion of people of lesser qualities through closed registries and politics.

    I blame AKC in the sense they have a broken business model, are bleeding money, and are doing nothing to increase the value of their “brand.” They could as a novel thought put chic requirements on getting a championship. They could come out with a better recognition for the breeder/owner/handler or even the owner/handler. They could get rid of pro handlers like UKC did. They could do away with co ownerships which scare away new people and massively f’ up the paperwork.

    Don’t drink the cool aide snobs – try reading a book about a breed who didn’t want to come in on AKC’s terms. The Dog Wars by Don McCaig pretty well covers it and is on sale at Amazon.

  10. Insider and poop knower June 21, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Right, the AKC just keeps raking in so much money they are in deep financial doodoo. I think an apt, if horrific, punishment for whiners without a clue would be to sit through a Delegates Meeting. The impression of a monolithic organization with an agenda disappears 3 minutes before the urge to scream STFU becomes overwhelming.

  11. Sarah June 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

    Up until now, I’ve loved every single post of yours that I’ve read and thought you were spot on, though I’ve never commented before. This post has hit my hobby-horse and has prompted my to hit the keyboard.

    Sure, the AKC and national registries like them are not the whole problem, but they are a huge part of it. They cannot be defended by the “just a registry” argument. Have you taken a look at their mission statement, publicly available on their website? Here it is for your perusal:

    “The American Kennel Club is dedicated to upholding the integrity of its Registry, promoting the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function. Founded in 1884, the AKC® and its affiliated organizations advocate for the purebred dog as a family companion, advance canine health and well-being, work to protect the rights of all dog owners and promote responsible dog ownership.”

    This is hardly the mission statement of “just a registry’.

    If the AKC wants to include all these added extras to its mission statement in order to promote itself as a responsible organization, then the Club and its apologists cannot fall back on the “just a registry” defense when it is called on its failures. If the AKC wants to say that it “advance[s] canine health and well-being” as part of its mission statement, it needs to address the core problems of compromised gene pools and conformation created by the system it heads. The AKC donating huge sums of money to research into health is the equivalent of tobacco companies donating money to cancer research and funding sports events and does not get them off the hook.

    Sorry, Dog Snobs. You’ve got this one wrong and the critics of the AKC and other national kennel clubs are not the ones who sound “stupid”.

    For the record, I am not anti-registry. My model is the KPNV. Yes, it’s a working dog registry whose breeders are selecting for traits that hardly make for a good pet, but using it as a model, you can select for whatever traits you want. And by selecting for and testing for functionality rather than purity and looks, strangely enough, you get functional dogs that, if you do throw in the odd outcross, within 3 generations, are indistinguishable from their “purebred” fellows if looks are what matter to you.

  12. Kitten June 22, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    AKC public relations are a disaster. They come off sounding defensive and wrong in almost every interview I’ve ever read or watched, even when they are clearly correct. And you guys hit the nail square on the head about some people being past their intellectual prime *gentle cough*. What the AKC really needs is a modern lobbyist who can spin the media. They need to take a stand on issues and stick to their position or logically defend a transition. And they need to redefine their business plan, de-emphasizing the registry aspect of the business, because it clearly isn’t enough to pay the bills and requires holding their nose while they mail out papers. In short, AKC needs a new CEO.

    I hate to admit it, but until they get someone who is a lot more with the times, AKC are going to continue getting their butts handed to them by clear-thinking business people like Wayne Pacelle and his odious ilk. It’s a shame to admit this because I love AKC dogs and AKC events so I naturally feel they are the gold standard, but the fact of the matter is AKC is helping to kill the sport they profess to love with their stubbornness and persistent inability to cogently present facts in a positive light to anyone in the media

  13. Sara June 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Posting this here as it got buried on FB:

    Alright I’ve tried but I can’t bite my tongue on this one. But first and foremost, I have to make a disclaimer here, that I am speaking for MYSELF and not on behalf of any organization. These are my personal opinions and beliefs.

    I LOVE you guys and adore all of your snark, but I have to say you’ve got it all wrong here. You say you are not AKC apologists here but it sure as hell sounds like it. I am so so sick of this whole “you’re either with us or against us” attitude that is truly pervasive in the fancy. If you criticize ANYTHING about dog breeding or say anything remotely positive about any dog legislation you are now an animal rights person. I’m over it.

    Major clarification needed here—if you actually watch and pay attention to the show, Mr. Cavanaugh never actually bashes AKC or even says “AKC.” He makes some very valid points about what’s wrong with the fancy, some very bad practices, and admits he has contributed to and been a part of it. The divisiveness was created and emphasized by HBO. The AKC reps sure as hell didn’t help—they did a fantastic job of making themselves look idiotic all on their own. I mean seriously—they completely denied that there is a problem and could only regurgitate their ridiculous catch phrase of “happy healthy dogs.” How could Bryant Gumble NOT make fun of that? And the comment comparing a dog trotting around a ring to an OLYMPIC ATHLETE is not only ludicrous but also patently offensive. IT IS NEVER OKAY that a dog is so overheated from breathing that it needs to be on a damn ice cushion. That same dog was on an ice cushion on the Today show the next day, which I will never ever forget. I was so outraged at seeing a dog who couldn’t even perform its basic function as a companion and sit on a couch without overheating and no one even noticed! My dogs perform actual athletic events in real heat (disc dogs, hunting, etc.) and they have never needed an ice cushion.

    You guys have some good points—for sure the fancy needs more youth involvement. I don’t have an easy answer for that, but dog showing is a dying sport. Continuous denial of issues does nothing to help that, it’s only pushing the youth and the general public towards rescue and all of the lovely ‘hybrids’ that are sold on the myth of hybrid vigor. I particularly agree with your point that papers are no guarantee of quality, but that’s a whole separate can of worms. I get pretty tired of all the blame being put on bad breeders: what about the dumbass who made the spontaneous decision to buy a puppy from the pet store and then cries foul when it’s sick? It’s called Google—do your damn research. Time to put more onus on the buyers instead of attacking all breeders. Oh and getting the registries to work together? A few years ago UKC organized a conference for all registries to come together and strategize on issues facing the industry as a whole. Which was the only registry invited that did NOT come? Enough said.

    Yes, it’s wonderful that AKC puts so much money into research for better health testing—that’s fantastic and I applaud them for that. But all the health testing in the world will not fix breeding for extremes. There’s no health test that will fix tiny nares or triangle GSD’s or other near deformities that are obvious to anyone with eyes. While UKC is not perfect by any means—there are plenty of those dogs in the UKC rings as well—at least UKC has ACKNOWLEDGED that the problem exists and is trying to take some steps to change them, through breed standard changes, the Total Dog program, and judge seminars. Is it a perfect solution that will fix everything? No, but it’s a step. I heard Temple Grandin speak at a conference a few years ago, and she told us how the agriculture industry has taken a path of cleaning house so they can open their doors to the public. It’s time for the world of dog breeding to do the same.

  14. LydiaG June 29, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    I do wish that AKC would require (or at least encourage) that a dog be able to do its “job” as well as look pretty. For example, maybe judge the herding breeds on stock before going into the confirmation ring. Take the 2 scores and add them for a final.

    There are so many conformation dogs that probably couldn’t hold up to the job they were intended for…

    P.S.
    Conformation vs working Border Collies (or even Aussies, but BC people are more rabid) is a fun argument to watch!

  15. Nadja July 29, 2014 at 1:41 am #

    LydiaG has it right and straight up. One reason coonhounds tend to be double registered AKC/UKC is a dog without a night championship is just a warm couch pillow.

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