M any people are unsure as to which “makes” a better dog – registered or non registered. It can be very confusing and there are many issues that need to be addressed in order to come up with which is best suited for your situation.
First, you need to know the difference between a “Pet Registry” and a legitimate Kennel Club. The main Kennel clubs that are pertinent to North American dogs are the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), and the American Kennel Club (AKC), Almost all others are PET REGISTRIES. (And beware, there is even a registry known as the Continental Kennel Club ,who also uses the acronym CKC, which can be easily mistaken for the Canadian Kennel Club.) One might argue that using the same acronym as the Canadian Kennel Club is purposely meant to confuse and deceive. (For the sake of clarification from this point on, when we refer to the CKC, we are referring to the Canadian Kennel Club.)
What is the Difference?
M ost pet registries are not much more than a piece of paper. They will register ANY dog with very little information, or from photos. Many will register dogs who are mixed breeds, or whose purebred status is in question. They normally document little more than the name and address of the owner, and the birth date and suspected breed of the dog. Some will list the names of the pup’s sire and dam as well. Their basic function is to record the pup and owner’s information to prove ownership or in the case of microchip companies, to provide assistance if the dog is lost or stolen.
O n the other hand, the CKC and AKC will only register pups whose parents are both registered with their KC (Kennel Club), or another recognized KC. In this way, both clubs have a long and documented pedigree of the ancestors of the pup. With registration, these dogs are eligible to compete in conformation shows. When you watch the Westminster Dog Show on TV, you can be sure these dogs are all registered with a legitimate KC.
Are CKC Breeders better?
T he CKC is a highly regarded club which keeps records of the pedigrees of purebred dogs. They also advocate for animal rights and try to educate the public. They regulate dog shows and promote responsible dog ownership. What they DO NOT do, is protect buyers from unethical breeders, puppy mills, or buying inferior quality pups. ...W H A T...? No doubt, this will shock many people reading this, but it is true. The CKC has done a wonderful job of marketing itself to the public. In the 2007 edition of Dogs Annual, for example, there is an ad from the club, which among other things, states that CKC Breeders “Test for Genetic Disease”, “Socialize their Dogs” and “Provide after-purchase Assistance”. And in a perfect world, this would be true. The simple truth is that any ethical breeder would do these things and the CKC does NOT enforce any of these issues, nor ask for proof from its breeders that these standards have been met. So it is left to the discretion of its breeders. And just as with any profession, there are good dog breeders and there are bad dog breeders, CKC membership is totally irrelevant, as either type can be a member of the CKC.
What are the Requirements Needed to become a CKC Member?
I n order to be a member of the CKC, you are required to pay a membership fee and fill out your basic information including name and address. That’s all. Seriously. You are not even required to own a dog! Surprised? Therefore, an unethical, abusive breeder could run a puppy mill and have all CKC registered dogs, and the CKC really has no way of finding out, as they do not generally do kennel inspections. They document pedigree and keep meticulous records, however, they do not go to their member’s homes to judge competency, ethics or standards. I have to tell you that my intention is not to bad mouth this organization, as they do good things for dogs, BUT, I think many people have a false sense of security when they buy CKC pups, and therefore just trust that a CKC breeder is an ethical person, no questions asked.
Will I be protected if I buy a CKC registered pup?
T he CKC is regulated by the Animal Pedigree Act of Canada. It ensures that all of its members provide the necessary documentation when selling pups. It has the authority to discipline its members for failing to do so, or for falsifying documents, (which is more common than you may think.) It can NOT, however, help you if you have purchased a sick puppy, and/or have purchased a puppy from a bad breeder. The only recourse for you at this point is through the court system. I encourage you to call the club yourself and ask how you are protected from bad breeders if buying a CKC registered pup. Keep in mind that they want their breeders to provide honest, ethical service, and encourage health testing and after purchase assistance, BUT, they do not oblige their members do so.
A nother little known but important fact that buyers need to understand is that puppies and dogs can be registered by the CKC even if their owners are not members. As long as both parents are CKC registered, puppies can be registered with the club as well, only the fees for non members are higher. Breeders who have been expelled from the Club, or who just do not like the bureaucracy involved, can opt to still register their puppies even though they are not members of the club.
The bottom line is that buyers must do their homework. Whether the pups are CKC registered or not, you must ask questions, spend time with the pups, and run like the wind if you are uncomfortable with the breeder! Buying a puppy is a LONG term commitment. Do not feel that you need to rush into a purchase, and do not allow yourself to feel pressured by the breeder. If you are unsure of anything, go home, do some more research and only choose a puppy when you are completely comfortable in doing so.
So are CKC registered Dogs Better than Non Registered?
S o, now that you understand the differences a little more, the choice may be a bit easier. If you are seeking a pet whose pedigree is recorded and their ancestry is documented, than yes, you should buy a CKC registered dog. Similarly, if you are planning on showing your dog in conformation shows, than you should also purchase a CKC registered dog. But if you want a pet, a loving, faithful companion, then No, registration is not at all important.
* Registration status has nothing to do with the quality of your puppy!* Do your homework and find a happy, healthy puppy, registered or not, from a reputable breeder who will openly and honestly answer your questions, and provide after purchase assistance. Take your time, and ask questions so you understand all that is involved in bringing home your new bundle of joy!
T he BBC recently conducted an extensive investigation concerning purebred show dogs. Some of what they learned was both shocking and truly sad. Here is a link to the 1 hr show - but please keep in mind that parts of this video may be disturbing to some viewers.