How the American Kennel Club Decides New Dog Breeds

There are upwards of 400 dog breeds in the world today but only 193 are recognized by the American Kennel Club. Here's how a pup makes the cut.

beagle dog show american kennel clubAP/Shutterstock

Three new dog breeds were recently recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC), and they are already stealing our hearts. So why haven’t we seen the Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes (pronounced NAY-dehr-lahn-seh KOY-kehr-hahnd-jeh), the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen, and the Azawakh (pronounced Oz-a-wok) before? They’ve actually been around for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t automatically give them the green light to AKC status.

It’s a process for a breed to be officially recognized by the AKC. First, there has to be an official request with documentation that an acceptable foreign or domestic registry officially recognizes the breed, says Brandi Hunter, vice president, public relations and communications, AKC. After the initial request, the breed must enter the AKC Foundation Stock Service (FSS), a record-keeping service for all purebred breeds not currently registrable with the American Kennel Club. In addition, a questionnaire, documented breed history spanning a minimum of 40 years, a written breed standard, and photographs of the breed as puppies and adults, including males and females must be submitted. “Before a breed is recognized, they are eligible to compete in the Miscellaneous Class, a stepping stone from the FSS to Full Recognition.” Here’s how to pick the best dog breed for you.

Breeds typically stay in the Miscellaneous Class status from one to three years. In the waiting period, a national club with at least 100 members in 20 states must be established, more litters of puppies must be born and the enrollment of dogs in FSS and participation in AKC event must grow. (Advancement to full registration is contingent on this growth.) The AKC requires a prospective dog breed to have a three-generational pedigree and there must be at least 300 dogs registered with the AKC FSS. It’s not a given that every proposed official breed will become one; the Belgian Laekenois, for example, has been stuck in miscellaneous class since June 2011. Here are some of the most popular dog breeds from all 50 states.

Once the breed is finally recognized by the AKC, they can compete in dog shows and be registered with the AKC. The Nederlandse Kooikerhondjes and the Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen were able to compete in the 2019 Westminster, but the Azawakh was only recently recognized on January 1, 2019, and can just compete in dog shows within its class—the hound class. But when February 2020 rolls around, the Azawakh is eligible to compete in the prestigious all-breed Westminster Dog Show. Read on to see the 50 cutest dog breeds as puppies.

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Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, HealthiNation, The Family Handyman, Taste of Home, and, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center. Follow her on Instagram @lisamariewrites4food and Twitter @cornish_conklin.