Who Is Alexandra Semyonova, And What Are Her Credentials?
Alexandra Semyonova, a dog “behaviorist” and former Dutch SPCA inspector, is author of The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs (Hastings Press, 2009.)
I would be interested in seeing proof of Semyonova’s qualifications and/or training to be a “behaviorist” and Dutch SPCA inspector because her article raises significant questions in my mind regarding her credibility and the accuracy of her statements.
Semyonova’s article entitled “The science of how behavior is inherited in aggressive dogs” should be included in her book “The 100 Silliest Things People Say About Dogs” as, in my opinion, it definitely qualifies for inclusion.
Maintaining A Breed
To maintain the characteristics of the breed it is necessary to continually breed the dogs with others possessing the same characteristics.
Baby, our AmStaff, was bred by Half-pint, another AmStaff. Nether dog has ever been used for dogfighting.
So, are the ten puppies that came from that union, i.e., the first litter, puppies that were bred for dogfighting?
How many would be suitable for dogfighting, and what happens to the rest?
Will the breeding of the puppies from this first litter that were not suitable for dogfighting propagate a new second litter of puppies that will be suitable for dogfighting or will that characteristic be diminished in the second and subsequent litters?
Have their dogfighting “genes” been diminished with each subsequent breeding, if they ever had any?
How many generations will it take for them to lose their dogfighting instincts and abilities, if they ever had any?
Does the fact that one or more dogs of a particular breed was successful at a particular athletic endeavor mean that all of their breed will be equally successful?
Secretariat was one of the best race horses in history: however, none of his offspring has won the Triple Crown since he did it in 1973. He sired an estimated 600 foals. None won the Triple Crown. The point being that just because one animal was very good at what it did does not mean that its descendants are going to be good at the same endeavor.
The same applies to humans and all other animals. Children are not necessarily going to achieve the same level of success as their parents. They may be more or less successful, and frequently, it is not going to be in the same endeavors as their parents. So to with animals.
Have you heard of any of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, etc. sons being contenders for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship?
Can Fighting Dogs Become Pets?
At file:///D:/E%20Drive/My%20Documents/My%20Documents/2000-01-01PitBulls/UseInBookThe%20Investigation%20and%20Trial%20of%20Michael%20Vick%E2%80%94April%202007%20_%20ASPCA.htm, it is stated,
“The Michael Vick investigation began in April 2007 with a search of Bad Newz Kennels, located on Vick’s Surry County, Virginia, property. The ASPCA assisted in the recovery and analysis of forensic evidence from Vick’s property, including carcasses and skeletal remains of numerous Pit Bulls. The evidence helped to convict the football star of operating a competitive dog fighting ring, a federal offense that resulted in a prison term for Vick and three co-defendants.
The ASPCA also led a team of certified applied animal behaviorists in behavior evaluations of the rescued dogs, making recommendations to the USDA and U.S. attorney’s office regarding the dispositions of the dogs.”
“Of the 49 Pit Bulls evaluated by the ASPCA-led team, only one was deemed behaviorally unfit for rehabilitation and recommended for euthanasia. A federal judge determined the final disposition of the 48 remaining dogs, who were then taken in by sanctuaries, rescues, foster homes and adopters throughout the country.”
At http://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/vicktory-dogs, part of the story of the Michael Vick dogs is told after they were rescued.
“The brave, beautiful dogs out of Bad Newz Kennel
Though bred to compete in the fighting ring, the dogs rescued from the property of professional football player Michael Vick went on to become champions of resiliency. Their astonishing courage proved that there’s no such thing as “too damaged” or “beyond hope.” And that no dog is inherently vicious, no matter her breed or background.
At Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, dogs endured cruelty that to most people is unimaginable. And sadly, when the dogs were finally discovered by authorities, they were in danger of being killed. Even some humane groups argued that these dogs were too traumatized and had been made too vicious to live.
Second chances where they matter most
Best Friends was among those who first advocated for these dogs. In the end, their lives were spared, and 22 of the most traumatized came here, to the Sanctuary, where the quest to heal them began. A new documentary film called “The Champions” follows several of the dogs in their journey and offers an uplifting glimpse into where they are now.
Hope, healing, and health
The journey wasn’t easy. Some of the dogs would flatten themselves like pancakes to avoid being noticed by people. Some expressed fear toward both humans and other dogs. But they all received the training, veterinary care, compassion and in-depth emotional support they needed. For caregivers at the Sanctuary, the priority was to ensure the dogs’ happiness and safety. But of course, there were questions. Could they be turned around? Could they lead normal lives? Could they ever be adopted into homes?
A resounding yes
The dogs that began life at Bad Newz kennels are now referred to as the Vicktory dogs, and with good reason. Many have earned their Canine Good Citizen certificate and are now adored family members in loving homes. Some went on to become service dogs or therapy dogs. Only two were ordered by the court to remain at Best Friends for life. Lucas, Vick’s grand champion, blossomed at Best Friends, but passed away in 2013. Meryl is healing and blossoming, enjoying comfort and companionship here among the red rock canyons.”
At http://barkpost.com/vicktory-dogs/, it is stated,
“The pups we’ve featured below are a few of the “Vicktory Dogs,” the dogs who were rescued from Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring back in 2007. When the dogs were discovered in Vick’s home, many people said even though the situation was horrible, these dogs should be put down because of their obvious violent natures and killer instincts.”
“Almost 8 years later, the Vicktory dogs have some incredible stories of perseverance and hope. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary took in 22 dogs and set out to prove that these dogs could be turned around– they could live normal lives in cozy homes. Below are snippets about 9 of those pups, snippets that show the flexible, fiercely-loving natures that live inside every dog.”
“Cherry went from a dog who slept with one eye open to a cuddly pup who goes to events and gets the word out that abused animals aren’t inherently evil. People watched him grow as one of the tough pups on the show “Dogtown” and now he’s a bit of a celebrity. Even though he was bred and taught to fight, today that’s the last thing he wants to do. He prefers constant snuggles with his family– including his canine sister and his cats.”
“One thing that surprised Georgia’s adopter, Amy, when she came to her new home was how quickly Georgia adapted to a loving family life. Georgia’s favorite thing to do was go on walks and she taught Amy powerful lessons on forgiveness, love, and learning to trust again. (Georgia passed away in 2013 but her legacy will always live on.)”
“Halle’s story continues to reiterate that no one should give up on a dog because of their past. Today Halle lives with two dog brothers and constantly plays with them. One of her brothers climbs on Halle, sits on her, bites her back legs to play–and she hasn’t gotten angry at him once. Whenever she sees another dog, her tail starts wagging and she does a happy dance. The first Vicktory dog to be adopted, Halle and her human started a dog enrichment program for shelter dogs called Halle’s Enrichment Club.”
“When Handsome Dan first came out of Michael Vick’s home, he was very skittish and fearful. As he’s grown older, Dan learned how to be more trusting. In 2010 his family welcomed a baby (human) sister to the family and Handsome Dan, like many pitties, was the pawfect nanny dog.
“The five years Little Red spent in Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, she was used as a “bait dog.” “Bait” animals are animals used to test a dog’s fighting skills– dogs like Little Red are often mauled or killed in the process. Little Red’s owner, Susan, never thought that Little Red needed to be rehabilitated, instead the pup needed time to recover. After being rescued from the dog fighting ring, Little Red lives a life full of treats and zooming around 6 acres of pasture.”
“The thing that Oliver’s adoptive parents were most surprised about after they brought him home was how willing the Pit pup allowed his new family to love him to pieces. Oliver had no fear in his new home or surroundings, despite the fact that his original evaluation stated that he was extremely fearful of people. Oliver would jump on his mom Erika’s lap and shower her with kisses.
Oliver passed away from cancer in 2009. He died in Erika’s arms.”
“When new people meet Squeaker they continuously say, “Wow I can’t believe a former fighting dog is so sweet.” Even though the beginning of her life included violent interactions with dogs, today Squeaker lives with her adoptive human family and their pack of 6 additional pups. Her adopter says that “Squeaker also stares at you like she is in love with you. Her eyes are filled with love and tell a story.”
“Richard Hunter, Mel’s adoptive pop, was a radio show host in Dallas back in 2007. Richard reported on the gruesome details of the Michael Vick dog fighting story and became emotionally invested in the well-being of the pups. When the opportunity came to adopt one of the Vicktory dogs, Richard jumped at the chance and drove to pick up a very scared Mel at the Best Friends sanctuary in Utah. Today Mel continues to recover and goes on car rides and sleeps on the pillow with his pop.”
“Oscar’s mom, Rachel, never set out to adopt a Vicktory dog. She just wanted a Pit Bull. But after Oscar came into her life, Rachel realized she didn’t just adopt a dog. She herself was adopted into the Vicktory dog family where everyone stays in close contact swapping stories, advice, and support to spread the word that unconditional love, forgiveness, and a bit of understanding goes a long, long way.”
“Curly still lives with his Best Friends family as the head dog over at the Dogtown Management office. Although he still struggles a bit when in unfamiliar territory, he is gaining confidence with the help of his best dog pal, fellow Vicktory dog Mya. In the summertime, Curly enjoys splashing about in the pool.”
“Sweet Layla passed her Canine Good Citizen test in February 2013, which is a huge deal for the fearful pup who had trouble relaxing due to her past. When she first arrived at Best Friends, Layla would shy away from people, but today she has her own Facebook page, where fans can follow along on her journey through recovery.”
The following is from a copy of an ASPCA webpage that I saved, but failed to save the URL.
“On July 8, 2009, the ASPCA participated in a multi-state dog fighting raid, the largest federal crackdown on dog fighting in U.S. history, resulting in the rescue of over 400 dogs, most of whom were Pit Bulls.”
“A team of pet behavior experts, including HSMO behavior staff, Dr. Lockwood and other ASPCA experts, has also evaluated each dog to determine suitability for possible placement with qualified rescue groups or experienced adopters. A complete veterinary and behavior report for each dog was submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which is responsible for providing information to the courts for the final determination for each animal.”
“Meet the Survivors
One-year-old Jakob now lives in California, where he has worked with Our Pack, Inc., Pit Bull Rescue to be trained as a therapy dog for hospital patients, residents of retirement homes and school children.
“The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is temperament, and as we know, Pit Bulls have loving, affectionate nature that often make them perfect for this kind of job,” said Marthina McClay, Founder of Our Pack, Inc.
Meet Fae, whose face was disfigured after losing her lips as the result of a dog fight. After working with St. Louis rescue group Mutts-n-Stuff, Fae is getting ready to start classes for the Canine Good Citizen tests. Fae has undergone reconstructive surgery and, with her inspiring story, she will make a wonderful ambassador for overcoming the cruelty of dog fighting.
“It’s amazing to watch her discover new things and receive love for the first time,” says Mutts-n-Stuff founder Gale Frey. “Fae is a sweet dog who loves nothing more than to be around people!”
UPDATE: In a tragic twist of fate, Fae passed away on December 30, 2009, after undergoing her third round of reconstructive surgery. The ASPCA convey our deepest condolences to Gale, the staff of Mutts-n-Stuff, and to everyone who was touched by Fae’s tragic, yet deeply moving, story.
Darmah lost part of her left front leg as a result of being forced to fight. She is now working to become an ambassador to children who have experienced similar losses. Darmah is living in her new forever home in Chicago, where her new pet parent hopes to work with her at the Shriners Hospital for Children.”
“Most of Gordon’s teeth are filed down. Others are missing, probably yanked out with pliers so he couldn’t defend himself from the bites of other dogs.
His bark is gone, too. It’s more like a high-pitched squeal now after someone shoved a pole, stick or something else down his throat to damage his voice box so neighbors wouldn’t hear him yelp in pain.
Gordon, his trainer recently said, was a “bait dog” in an Akron dog-fighting ring.”
“Men running the dog-fighting ring stripped Gordon of his defenses and then let their fighting dogs attack him again and again to improve their ferocity, strength and endurance.
Many bait dogs like Gordon don’t survive. They’re killed during one of the training attacks or fed, cut and bleeding, to the fighting dogs as a treat.
But Gordon was rescued in 2014 when law enforcement busted up one of Akron’s dog-fighting rings.”
“After enduring a lifetime’s worth of hardship, Gordon finally found his happy ending.
He was adopted Jan. 9 after Charlene Knerr, a 20-year-old nurse’s aide from Sandusky, read about him on Cleveland Dog Rescue’s Facebook page.”
“Gordon didn’t waste any time making himself at home with the Knerrs.
Knerr said in just one day he befriended her 1-year-old daughter, Cataleya, playing with her on the floor and putting his paw around her when she puts her arm around him. He even found himself sleeping in Knerr’s bed the first night.
“He’s got a forever home here, that’s for sure,” she said.”
There are countless numbers of similar accounts of so-called “killer Pit Bulls”. One only needs to look and learn.
The studies cited in Semyonova’s article contradict the most significant “facts” claimed by the author in her article, and consequently, in my opinion, it appears that Semyonova has an agenda and is trying to “support” that agenda with “science” that is for the most part not applicable and/or inflammatory, biased, baseless conjecture, “half-truths”, falsehoods, misapplication of facts, etc. in the belief that no one will verify her statements and/or check her “sources”. However, this is not unusual for detractors since the scientific evidence or studies to support their positions doesn’t exist, based on my research, and thus, they resort to hyperbole.
Nevertheless, the consumer is welcomed to form their own opinions.
“A Pit Bull Can Be One Of Several Breeds, Such As An
American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier,
Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Dog,
Boxer, Or Alpha Blue Blood Bull Dog. Or, Even
More Complicated, A Mix Of Several Breeds.”
No substantiation for the statement that “a Pit Bull can be one of several breeds, such as an American Staffordshire Terrier, Bull Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, American Bull Dog, Boxer, or Alpha Blue Blood Bull Dog.” has been located on the American Kennel Club website. However, an examination and analysis of this statement follows, but in order to fully appreciate and understand what a “breed” is and how they differ, an understanding of the development of a new breed is required.
Creating A New Breed
At http://www.cfba.co.uk/creating-a-new-breed.html, an excellent article entitled Creating a New Breed by Dr. Carmen Battaglia states,
“…The ideas for creating a new breed usually begin with a group of breeders or an individual. They start with the notion that they will share breeding animals and the resulting offspring. For reasons which are not yet clear, those who have taken this path rarely think about the time and the requirements of such a breeding program. Too often the idea for a new breed is simply to cross two or more existing breeds whose characteristics they like with the expectation that cute puppies will appear.
Once the decision is made to create a new breed, what follows are talk, rumor and excitement, all of which make for interesting newspaper and TV stories. The hype typically begins with an announcement about the new breed. This is followed by a bombardment of questions from the media and curiosity seekers. The motivation that drives the idea is the belief that they can demand higher prices for their new dogs (mongrels). In the midst of all this excitement there is one important question that is rarely addressed. What do they mean when they call themselves breeders? Those who breed animals for consumption such as cattle, sheep and hogs will answer this question differently from those who breed purebred dogs. In this regard, some believe that the term “breeder” means nothing more than someone who mates males to females. In that environment, anyone can become a breeder.
There are no entrance exams, rules or penalties for those who produce the unexpected. Under these conditions any one of our neighbors can claim to be a breeder. But regardless of how you define the term, the real dilemma comes when the breeder comes face to face with the larger question about the skills necessary to take on such a project. Those who attempt to create a new breed usually begin with a reason for doing it. It might be a new purpose, a function or a special need. But for most, it seems to be the perceived benefit of financial gain.
Occasionally there will be others who attempt to create a new breed without cross-breeding. Their approach begins with an existing breed and a trait within a breed they admire. Typically, they will choose a color that is disqualified by the breed standard. What puzzles the long-time breeder is why these individuals call themselves “breeders” when they deliberately set out to breed dogs that have a trait that is disqualified by a breed standard. While this approach avoids cross breeding, it also requires isolating those with the disqualification. The immediate affect is the impact on a reduced gene pool and the decline in the genetic diversity of the dogs being used. Their plan usually involves enhancing the color that is not allowed in the belief that they can improve it and eventually have it recognized as a new breed. As these breedings progress, many will begin to enter these dogs in companion and performance events (obedience, agility, herding, etc.) where disqualifications are allowed in the belief that by competing in these venues they give credibility to their efforts.
The history of breed development is centuries old. The Chinese Crested dates back to the 1500s and the days of Columbus. The Pekingese has a history that’s more than 1,000 years-old. Other breeds date back to the 1700 and 1800s. In each case, it was understood that careful selection and the need for recognition by a legitimate stud book was an important part of the process. More recently (1980s), Tina Barbara and Cinnamon Kennedy began an effort to create a new breed called the “Shiloh Shepherd”. They began by crossing the Alaskan Malamute with the German Shepherd Dog. It wasn’t long before others claimed to be breeding “Shiloh’s”. A typical problem that begins to surface is disagreement about how these offspring should be bred and who would keep the records and monitor the progress of the breedings. Without a recognized stud book and a registration system, other interested breeders and the public are left wondering what will become of these efforts.
The path to recognition should not be taken lightly. It requires a large population of dogs with pedigrees that can produce consistent and predictable type. To accomplish this, a written breed standard is needed that describes the traits that the judges and breeders will use to advance not only temperament and type but many of the other desirable traits. Each standard includes the major and minor faults and the disqualifications. For these reasons, those who attempt to create a new breed must craft a breed standard that fits the traits they intend to establish. Oftentimes these breeders will overlook the requirements and expectations that will be placed upon their new breed for its qualities, function and purpose. The show ring will become the primary place where breed type, temperament and conformation are evaluated. In this regard, the breed standard serves as the blueprint. It describes the special trait(s) unique to the breed. Standards usually begin with a general statement about appearance, followed by a specific description of the traits found in the ideal dog. By design, standards focus on the traits and characteristics that give each breed their distinct “breed-look”. One of its primary purposes is to feature the traits that make the breed unique, along with the qualities it must possess in order to perform the job for which it was created. Standards emphasize what is important; conversely the qualities that are of little or no importance are usually only mentioned in passing or not at all. The text of a standard must be clear and concise. Sentence structure is usually simple and straightforward. For example, verbs are used in the present tense: “is” or “are” rather than “should be”. For these reasons, any change to a breed standard must always be given careful consideration.
Disqualification is a term found in many breed standards. It is the mechanism used to eliminate a trait from a breed. When such a trait occurs, breeders will not use these individuals in their breeding programs. Some will place limits on puppy registration papers or sell them on spay/neuter contracts. Historically, the rationale for using a disqualification can be divided into two broad categories. Breeds will usually disqualify a trait for either aesthetic or functional reasons. For example, the German Shepherd Dog, Doberman Pincher and the Boxer standards all disqualify the white coat, but for different reasons. The German Shepherd standard disqualifies the white coat based on three of the breed’s primary functions: herding, police and military work. Those who herd prefer a dog that is not white because it is difficult in winter to distinguish the dog from the sheep and the snow. The police and military prefer a dark dog because it is not easily seen making the handler and dog less of a target. The standard for the Doberman Pinscher and the Boxer disqualify the white coat for aesthetic reasons. Their rationale relates to phenotype where emphasis is placed on appearance and desirability. Faults are different from disqualifications. They can be based on appearance, weight, height, color, coat texture, missing teeth, etc. In the show ring, dogs with faults can be exhibited. Judges are guided by the language of the breed standard in determining how they will be penalized.
By definition, a breed can be described as a unique group of animals whose phenotype and genotype distinguish it from all others. Both are central to a breed’s identity. The AKC [American Kennel Club] is able to support pedigree accuracy with its DNA program that can include and exclude sires and dams with pinpoint accuracy. Generally speaking, those who attempt to create a new breed will give more attention to the secondary traits of expression, coat texture, pigment, and eye color than to structure and temperament. The latter are the prerequisites to having a sound dog and are the more difficult traits to change.
[At http://www.apps.akc.org/apps/insideAKC/delegates/delegates_search.cfm,a description of the AKC is
“The American Kennel Club is a not-for-profit organization devoted to the advancement of purebred dogs. AKC is a “club of clubs”, comprised of over 500 member clubs and almost 5000 affiliated clubs. There are no individual members. Each member club exercises its voting privileges through a representative known as a “delegate.” The delegates form the legislative body of the AKC, making the rules and electing from their body the individuals who serve on AKC’s Board of Directors.”]
The following scenario is typical of the breeders who attempt to avoid the challenges of cross breeding. As indicated earlier, they will begin with a disqualified color in an existing breed. The challenge for these breeders is to understand the requirements of the AKC and those placed on parent clubs. Here they will find the strict requirements for breed standards, how they are developed and how they are changed. For those who intend to create a new breed using a color that is disqualified in an existing breed, they must find a way to meet several requirements. Some believe that they can request that the standard be changed to allow the disqualified color to become a variety. This approach avoids cross breeding. The problem here is that the AKC has not allowed a new variety in over 50 years. Another approach is to have the parent club change their breed standard to accommodate their request. The requirement for any change to a breed standard is that such a request must receive a two-thirds favorable vote of the membership. But regardless of which approach is taken, the process begins when the proposal is sent to the AKC by the parent club.
In order for a breed, new or old, to be recognized, the breeders must be able to demonstrate several generations of pups that resemble one phenotype and are genetically similar to their parents.
This means that they can be distinguished based on their appearance and genetics.
For example, breeders who choose to create a new breed must be prepared to spend upwards of 50 years of continuous breeding to create a gene pool that will produce entire litters consistent in type and genetics.
In every breed there will be health problems to address. This means that the new and seasoned breeders must learn how to manage the carriers. They must give priority to the diseases most likely to cripple, blind and cause early death. Through the use of pedigree analysis, formula breeding and selection methods, most breeding problems can be addressed. For example, in the case of the German Shepherd, Doberman and Boxer breeds, the white coat is produced by simple recessives. The term “simple recessive” is taken to mean that both parents will be carriers of the recessive trait. Said another way, the mode of inheritance requires that each parent contribute one recessive white gene to their offspring. When traits are controlled by simple recessives, breeders can easily control and manage the carriers just by knowing what the ancestors and littermates have produced. In the case of the white coat it means that a sire and dam that are colored can produce white pups. A fundamental reason why color has not been an effective trait on which to create a new breed involves the genes. For example, if DNA were taken from several dogs of the same breed, the laboratory would identify all of them as being of the same breed. Color alone would not be sufficient enough to separate them into different breeds and their DNA would identify only a color variation.
There are many existing breeds that have not been recognized by the AKC. Some are referred to as “rare breeds”. These are the breeds that have varying degrees of history and development. They are not the same as those which have occurred by cross breeding to produce mongrels or “pseudo” breeds. A good example of the latter is the “Labradoodle” which was nothing more than a crossbred or mongrel. The puppies produced from these breedings reflected all of the variations known to both breeds. The Labradoodle which began as a legitimate experiment to produce a hypoallergenic service dog for the blind was abandoned after it failed to consistently produce the desired results. Those who pursue these fads and continue to cross breed only puzzle the public and leave the legitimate breeders frustrated along with the unsuspecting puppy buyers. Those who call these breedings by their “pseudo” names such as “Labradoodle” or “Cockapoo”, etc. only give credence to the breeders who cross breed to produce mongrels.
When breeders attempt to create a new breed, one of the concerns must be recognition by a legitimate registry. Some of the popular routes that these breeders have taken were to seek an organization outside the United States which might recognize their dogs as a different or new breed. For example, the breeders of the white Doberman and white German Shepherd Dog have both looked to the Federation Cynologique International (FCI) for help. Unfortunately, there are many misunderstandings about the FCI and their role in the development of new breeds. What gives many breeders a false sense of security is their lack of understanding about FCI. This is a world organization which functions outside the United States. It serves as an umbrella for other countries to host shows. It is not a stud book and it does not approve new breeds or breed standards. Recognition of a breed by the FCI begins with a member country whose stud book and breed club intends to use their own standard when hosting an event. Rarely does the FCI hold a show of its own. While many national kennel clubs throughout the world host shows under the rules and auspices of the FCI, they pay a portion of their entry fee to FCI. For a variety of reasons, not all countries belong to the FCI. The American Kennel Club, the Kennel Club (England), Canada and a few others are not members of the FCI but have working agreements in place so that their judges can judge throughout the world. The FCI recognizes the AKC as the only stud book in United States and they have agreed not to hold shows in the United States.
Under FCI rules, the breed standards used at their shows are determined by the registry in the country of origin. For example, all FCI shows use the German standard for the German Shepherd Dog, the Japanese standard for the Akita, the French standard for the Papillion, etc. While AKC is not a member, the standard used for Boston Terriers and for American Cockers is the AKC standard and it is used whether the show is in Japan, Argentina, France or wherever.
Legitimate breeds in the United States must eventually become an AKC-recognized breed. As the world’s largest and most prestigious stud book, the AKC is recognized as the authority for purebred dogs. Most of the breeds recognized by the AKC were established in some other country. But regardless of origin, when a new breed seeks recognition, the process begins by enrolling the breed in a program the AKC calls the Foundation Stock Service. The process starts when a written request is received from a breed club requesting that their breed be listed as a Foundation Stock Service breed. Their request must include:
1. An AKC designed questionnaire giving details of the breed, its registry, etc.
2. A sample of all registry documents: registration certificates, pedigrees, etc.
3. An official written history documenting many decades as a distinct breed.
4. An official breed standard.
5. A selection of photographs epitomizing breed type.
This information is then presented to the AKC Executive Committee for a decision to allow or deny the request. The second step of entry into the Miscellaneous Class usually takes several years. By the time a breed is ready for the Miscellaneous Class, it should have established three major milestones.
(1) A national breed club with a minimum of 100 active household members located in at least 20 states in the United States.
(2) A list of the current officers and members, the current breed standard and the club’s constitution and by-laws.
(3) A minimum of 300 to 400 dogs, with complete 3-generation pedigrees in this country.
Breed observations are then scheduled by AKC Executive Field Staff. When these criteria have been met, the results are presented to the Board of Directors of the American Kennel Club for approval into the Miscellaneous Class. Breeds usually remain in the Miscellaneous Class for one to three years, sometimes longer. At the end of the first year there is another evaluation which requires that the national breed club update information about club matters, officers, directors, etc. to the AKC. When all the criteria have been met, the updated information is presented to the Board of Directors of The American Kennel Club for the final decision which moves the breed from the Miscellaneous Class to regular breed status and competition.
Two conclusions can be drawn from this discussion. The first is that cross bred dogs should always be known for what they are – mongrels or mixed breeds. When breeders refer to them by their pseudo name i.e., “Labradoodle, or Cockapoo”, they legitimize the efforts of the mongrel breeders and encourage them to create markets for their puppies. The second is that the history of breed development is filled with failure and disappointment. Creating a new breed is not for the timid or those lacking in time, resources and adequate kennel space. The more than 160 AKC-recognized breeds each took decades to develop. It is folly for breeders to think they can create, in a few years, what it took others a lifetime to accomplish. For these reasons, creating a new breed should be left to those with the necessary skills, time, resources and determination.
Barber, Tina M, and Kennedy, Cinnamon, The Shiloh Shepherd Story, Mid Atlantic Highlands, Huntington, West Virginia, 2006.
Battaglia, C. L. – Breeding Better Dogs, BEI Publications, Atlanta, GA 1986
Bell, Jerold S. “Choosing Wisely”, AKC Gazette, August 2000, Vol. 117, Number 8, p-51.
Bell, Jerold, S. “Developing Healthy Breeding programs”, Canine Health Conformance, AKC Canine Health Foundation, Oct. 15-17, 1999. St. Louis MO.
Brackett, Lloyd, C. “Planned Breeding”, Dog World Magazine, Chicago, Illinois, 1961.
Carlton, Bronwyn and Alger, Bill, “Bow-Wow”, AKC Family Dog, New York, New York, March/April 2006, pg 11.
Keller, Greg, “The use of health databases and selective breeding, a guide for dog and cat breeders and owners”. Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Inc, 2300 Nifong Blvd, Columbia Missouri 2003.
Willis, Malcomb, “Breeding Dogs” Canine Health Conference, AKC Canine health Conference, Oct. 15-17, 1999. St. Louis, MO.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Carmen L. Battaglia holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State University. He is an author of many articles and several books, an AKC judge, researcher, well known lecturer and leader in the promotion of breeding better dogs.