The birth of a breed - How do new dog breeds gain official recognition?

The birth of a breed - How do new dog breeds gain official recognition?

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Almost all of the pedigree dog breeds that are established within the UK today have their roots in much older breeds and types of dogs. Many of the most popular dog breeds in common ownership today began their lives as cross breeds or hybrids of other dog types and mixes of parentage from other core groupings, and the majority of breeds that have been officially acknowledged and recognised over the last hundred or so years were ‘created’ rather than born. Often, people think that the term ‘pedigree’ refers to a dog that is of a pure and distinct genetic type and heritage that stands alone and unrelated to other types of dogs, but this is very rarely the case. It is incredibly uncommon for a new breed of domesticated dog to be ‘discovered’ or for such a breed to occur naturally in the wild, and generally, all new breeds that are officially recognised and that attain pedigree status have their origins in other older breeds and mixtures of different breeds.

Who decides upon the pedigree status of a breed?

Generally speaking, the different Kennel Club organisations across the world are considered to be the authority bodies that recognise and approve the pedigree status of any type of dog. In the UK, The UK Kennel Club is considered the governing body and umbrella organisation for the recognition and registration of new breeds of dogs, and is the body that has the ultimate say on assigning pedigree status to a dog type and managing its formal registration. Different Kennel Clubs across the world hold different breed standards. Sometimes, a dog that is recognised by one country’s Kennel Club may not necessarily be recognised by another.The majority of established pedigree dog breeds within the UK, and many unrecognised breeds that may in the future attain Kennel Club recognition as a pedigree breed have their own societies and clubs, which establish the breed standards of the dogs in question and form the basis of the lobbying bodies that petition The Kennel Club for recognition.

What is a pedigree dog?

The term ‘pedigree dog’ is used to refer to a dog that is of an officially recognised breed, and that has a traceable ancestry going back several generations on both sides of being a pure example of that particular type of dog. To be classed as a pedigree dog, the dog in question must be formally registered with The Kennel Club and/or the official breed organisation that governs it, and have the paperwork to prove this. This basis forms the difference between what makes a dog a pedigree, and what makes a dog a ‘pure breed’ or ‘full breed dog. A pure or full breed dog is the term used to refer to a dog that has all of the looks, temperament and parentage of a pedigree dog, but without the formal recognition and paperwork to back this up.

How do new breeds become formally recognised by The Kennel Club?

The Kennel Club offers clear guidelines upon registering a new breed of dog within the UK, and in order to be considered for recognition, the breed (and so the group that is lobbying for it) must be able to fulfil all of the following requirements:

  • A clear and formal outline of the breed standards for the potential new breed in question that falls in line with Kennel Club policies on the temperament, wellness and ongoing sustainability of the dogs in question.
  • A significant number of the dogs of that type and meeting the breed standard being present within the UK.
  • A verifiable history of the parentage of the existing dogs within the UK going back at least three generations.
  • Details of the official status of the breed or type of dog in its country or countries of origin, if outside of the UK.
  • A complete history of the breed’s origins, usage and ancestry.
  • Details of any genetic predispositions to inherited health conditions, or any illnesses or other known problems that are prevalent within the breed.

Understandably, both the eventual process of gaining Kennel Club recognition and the formation of a new breed itself takes a considerable amount of time. Establishing a desirable type of dog, producing significant numbers of them, generating demand for them and maintaining breed standards and good health with only a limited pool of founding dogs is not something that can be rushed. It takes decades, rather than years, for a new dog breed to become established and recognised, although this process can be expedited in the case of recognising breeds that are new to the UK but established within another country.

types of dog are on their way to becoming formally recognised as breeds in their own right?

Without a crystal ball, it would be hard to say what breeds or types of dogs are likely to become recognised as breeds in their own right by The Kennel Club in the near future. The ultimate decision making process comes down to The Kennel Club authority, and as mentioned, takes a considerable amount of time to establish.The upsurge in popularity within the last ten or so years of so-called ‘designer dogs’ or ‘hybrid dogs’- those that are a cross breed of two existing pedigree dogs- would seem to be the obvious place to look for new candidates.Increasing numbers of Labradoodles (poodle/Labrador crosses) Cockapoos (cocker spaniel/ poodle crosses) and Jugs (Jack Russell/pug crosses) indicate that perhaps these three types of dog might well be some of the first currently unrecognised breeds to attain official Kennel Club breed status recognition in the future. This has already happened within the cat world, with the Tonkinese breed- a cross bread pairing of Siamese and Birman cats- gaining official recognition by the feline world’s Kennel Club counterpart, The Governing Council of the Cat Fancy, in 1984.

Generally, an individual person attempting to register a new dog breed on their own is unlikely to be successful, due to The Kennel Club’s rules and guidelines on what constitutes the formation of a new breed. However, dog owners and breeders lobbying and supporting applications for formal recognition of the dogs that they own as a breed in their own right plays a large part in getting any new breed of dog recognised officially.Once a breed is formally recognised by The Kennel Club, dogs of that breed become eligible to compete in pedigree classes at Kennel Club registered shows and events, and even stand a chance of winning the coveted Best in Show title at Crufts.

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