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AKC Announces Mixed-Breed Program
Mutt lovers question the new “separate but equal” designation.
My young mixed breed, Ginger Peach, practices agility.

After 125 years as an advocate for (select) purebred dogs, the American Kennel Club (AKC) announced its new mixed-breed program last week. For the past several years, rumors abounded that AKC was on the cusp of allowing mixed breeds to participate in activities, such as agility, obedience and rally. Some folks claimed AKC was growing enlightened, while others claimed it was simply trying to shore up its bottom line. (Obedience entries are down and other venues, such as USDAA and APDT, welcome mixed breeds in their agility and rally programs, respectively.)

Mixed breeds may be registered with AKC as of October 1, 2009, and be eligible for agility, obedience and rally competition on April 1, 2010. No doubt this is a step in the right direction, but I do have mixed feelings (no pun intended) about some conditions of the program. For example, mutts may participate in agility, obedience and rally competitions, however, they will be in a separate class and not allowed to compete head to head against purebred dogs. Are we mixed-breed lovers really expected to support a “separate but equal” class? Why this special designation?

Offering separate classes will create more work for the hosting club’s members and volunteers. Since the inclusion of a mixed-breed class is optional, clubs might simply choose not to offer it at their event. Another rule states that mixed breeds will not be allowed to participate if the agility, obedience or rally events are held in conjunction with a conformation show. So what good is a mixed-breed program and registering your mutt with the AKC if you can rarely participate in events?

What about people who have a rare purebred dog, such as a Catahoula Leopard Dog or McNab? They do not fit either class since they’re neither AKC-recognized breeds nor mixes. Not to mention, the mixed-breed program requires proof of spay/neuter and some rare purebred dogs might be part of a responsible breeding program with another registry, such as UKC.
In an old AKC PowerPoint presentation, “Why Explore Mixed Breed Dog Listing” (that until recently was posted on the AKC website), one rationale was: “Exposing mixed breed dog owners to AKC and encouraging them to make their next dog a purebred by showing that purebreds consistently outperform mixed breeds (Purebreds consistently score better than mixed breeds in head-to-head competition. The U.S. Dog Agility Association has given 63 lifetime achievement awards for outstanding performance, and only three of those have gone to mixed breed dogs.)”

Aside from the fact that the AKC misrepresented USDAA’s statistics in order to support the superiority of the purebred dog, I find it rather sad and disappointing that AKC even felt the need to reassure its members that their purebred dogs would remain top dog. Was this just a tactic in order to get all AKC members on board? Or will this attitude persist even after mixes are supposedly “welcomed” into the group?

Currently, I compete in AKC agility with two rescue Dalmatians and am training my youngest dog, a mixed breed, to compete in USDAA and NADAC agility. Despite its flaws, I think the AKC mixed-breed program is a step in the right direction and I will likely support it. But I am prepared to hear cries of protest from fellow mutt lovers who disagree with my decision.

This topic continues to be hotly debated between dog lovers both in person and in cyberspace. Some people think the program will only improve if mixed-breed owners support it right from the start and lend their voices to its evolution. Others find it insulting and want nothing to do it with it. What do you think about AKC’s new mixed-breed program? If you have a mutt, will you consider participating in AKC events? Why or why not?


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

CommentsPost a Comment
Please note comments are moderated. After being approved your comment will appear below.
Submitted by Carolyn with Ma... | April 22 2009 |

I'm all for "inclusive" rather than "exclusive," so this sounds good to me. If I lived in the US, I'd be interested in participating with my mixed breed. I think including mixed breeds would be a breath of fresh air to the organization.

Submitted by Anonymous | December 13 2009 |

Oh how do I begin? The whole pure breed and mix breed makes me mad. OK so for conformation and show and go..let the pure's go!!
I have gone to many AKC show's ( not to be rude but I find the people at those shows to be very rude and mean. Hey I would think that if I was showing a good looking pure breed I would want everyone to know all they could about the breed.)Not that way with AKC..from what I have experienced! Anyways I have a mutt (white boxer red heeler X) he is great. He is therapy certified and has many agility titels. ONE BIG prob. we live in Alaska now and most of the agility trials are AKC. so we don't have many chances to play.
anyone have ideas???

Submitted by Sarah | April 25 2009 |

The AKC continues to support puppy mills, consistently opposing legislation that would create more humane conditions. They are one of the biggest obstacles to puppy mill legislation. Until the AKC shows that it is a true friend of dogs, I would never participate in any AKC event. It isn't a matter of purebred vs mixed breed. AKC=puppymills.

Submitted by Kate | June 10 2013 |

I wouldn't say that. puppy mill dogs are not always purebred at all. AKC supports responsible breeders that breed into regulations.

Submitted by Kathy Konetzka-Close | April 28 2009 |

I'm a dog lover, pure and simple--mutts or purebreds, it doesn't matter to me. So I actually think that any step for inclusiveness is a good thing, even if there's an underlying hope that purebred dogs will "outperform" the mixed breeds. I truly doubt that will be the case(how stupid is that comment, anyway?) and I suppose anyone could find that as reason to not participate, but heck, why not get involved and show everyone what your dog can do? Educating the public about dogs, in any venue or arena, can only serve the greater good. It may seem like a small step, but any step in the right direction is a step in the right direction!

Submitted by Eileen | May 4 2009 |

Simply put, what should qualify a dog for agility? How should dogs be categorized? Logically it should be ability and maybe size?
The AKC seems to constantly 'qualify' or 'disqualify' dogs according to complicated standards that exclude. Which category would my 'foreign born' purebred (hence not registered with the AKC) qualify for in the 'beauty' or agility competitions?
Okay, the AKC is making baby steps at inclusion for agility...but I doubt this is by choice....rather for increased income.

Submitted by Day | May 4 2009 |

I have a chiweenie (the now technical term for my chihuahua dachshund mix) and a three-legged mini dachshund. Neither would be acceptable in teh eyes of the AKC. Isn't accepting these "sub-par" dogs a lot like wearing jeans to the ball? Who really wants to be around that? I'll stick with my pound puppies and let them be arrogant about traits man bred into them anyway.

Submitted by Syllygrrl | May 10 2009 |

"encouraging them to make their next dog a purebred by showing that purebreds consistently outperform mixed breeds"

NO THANKS - My next choice will always be a rescue - mixed or not, it won't be bought!

Submitted by Anonymous | May 20 2009 |

I have a mixed breed dog and have UKC novice and open obedience titles. I will remain loyal to the UKC. The judges are great and the events are always run well. I think its wrong that the AKC is putting mixed breeds in a separate class. Are they afraid that mixed breed dogs will out perform pure breds? Are they trying to get our money from registering and entry fees? If they really want to let mixed breeds into the AKC than let them perform in the same class and may the best dog win!!!

Submitted by Pat | May 21 2009 |

I won't be competing in any AKC event. I used to show in AKC conformation and obedience when I had Belgian Sheepdogs, but that was many years ago.
I have shown in USDAA and NADAC agility. Since Border Collies, Australian Shepherds and Shelties seem to dominate any agility competition, the AKC is quick to jump on that. Though Border Collies and Australian Shepherds haven't really been part of the AKC for all that long.
I used to compete in agility with Border Collies, I was saddened when I heard the AKC was going to 'recognize' Border Collies, I was saddened yet again when the AKC announced they would be adding agility to their performance sports. The AKC has one thing in mind in allowing mixed breeds to compete, the bottom line more money.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 24 2009 |

I recently applied for an ILP for my pup. I simply got a rejection with no discussion of the characteristics of my dog followed by a link to information to their new mixed breed program. It came across to me as a clear conflict of interest. When I asked for details about the decision - maybe a little report of characteristics for my $35, I got nothing.

With the efforts they are putting into developing this new program, I wouldn't waste any money applying for an ILP number. I would imagine pet quality pups without proof of pedigree will be rejected and called mutts. This sounds like the fallout from an ILP dog victory that was offensive to the pure breed owners to me.

So, now that I have been rejected for the ILP, do they really expect me to send them more money to get registered as a mixed breed when I got no useful feedback from the first fee? I would think they should offer either the ILP or the mixed breed number with the fee instead asking for two different applications and two different fees. I am not very interested in sending more money to them for a different registration at this point.

Submitted by Catzrcool | July 1 2009 |

I wouldnt waist a dime registering a mutt or a pure bred dog with the ACK. I have an american cocker spaniel that is white and black parti with merle coloring. They would not let me regsiter him as merle. I have a problem with that because both parents are AKC registered and have champions in their bloodlines. The breeder is also AKC registered. The AKC is just a big hipe. I have a friend that successfully registered a spider with them. TOO FUNNY. I wasted money on them and now wish I hadnt. I hope others follow suit and dont worry about the AKC or CKC. Print yourself a certificate on your computer and call it a day!

Submitted by Cathy Hjelm | February 10 2010 |

As of May 2010, AKC will allow mixed breeds to compete with purebreds at obedience, rally and agility at all AKC sanctioned events, not just the stand alone events. It's been said before, AKC isn't interested in being "fair" to the mutts, just looking for more money. There are plenty of events and organizations out there for mutts to compete in. As a show chair for a kennel club, I take exception that kennel club members are stuck up and think that they are too good to talk to people at an event. If you approach someone showing a dog at an event, please make sure that you do it after they have shown their dog or if they look like they are just casually hanging out at their set up. This is a sport and just like you wouldn't walk up and try to strike up a conversation with an athlete, you shouldn't do it with exhibitors. We get keyed up and sometimes nervous, we are watching what is going on in the ring, how the judge is judging, what he is asking the competitors to do, etc.. Come talk to me when the pressure is off, I'll be happy to tell you about my breed good or bad. I'll also invite you to join our kennel club, even if you don't own a dog. We can always use a hand at our events. We'll even pay you to be a steward (check in dogs at ringside). We are just people like everyone else, just because you've met one bad apple, don't assume the whole barrel is rotten!!

Submitted by Vince Stead | March 29 2011 |

I really liked your article. My name is Vince Stead, and I wrote a book about mixed breed dogs that you can get on Barnes & Noble and Amazon for only $2.99. Here is a link to it:


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