History Of The American Kennel Club

A history of the AKC from its humble beginnings in 1884 to present. Information on groups, first dogs registered, past presidents, rules and regulations.

In the rooms of the Philadelphia Kennel Club on September 17, 1884, twelve delegates from dog clubs across the nation met to start a regulatory "Club of Clubs" that would oversee the minor clubs which held benched dog shows or field trials. This new club was to become what we know today as "The American Kennel Club."

Over the next few years the club met many times to adopt a Constitution and By-laws, and elect its first president (Major James Taylor). Until 1887 the AKC had a simple desk set aside for use in the offices of the Westminster Kennel Club although meetings were held in Boston, Newark, New Jersey, Cincinnati as well as New York.

Since the club had no official studbook, Dr. N. Rowe donated his records dating from 1878. Thus the first date a dog entered the American Kennel Club's studbook was 1878, six years before the actual formation of the club. The first dog was an English Setter named Adonis and he was owned by George Delano of New Bedford, Massachusetts.

From that simple beginning, the following new dogs and breeds were entered into the Stud Book in 1885:

Basset Hound "Bouncer"

Beagle "Blunder"

Blood Hound "Corodoc"

Bull Terrier "Nellie II"

Collie "Black Shep"

Dachshund "Dash"

Fox Terrier "Cricket"

Greyhound "Baron Walkeen"

Harrier "Jolly"

Irish Terrier "Aileen"

Mastiff "Bayard"

Pug "George"



St. Bernard "Chief"

Scottish Terrier "Prince Charlie"

Yorkshire Terrier "Belle"

In 1887 a room was rented at 44 Broadway and in 1888, August Belmont, Jr. became the AKC's fourth president. Mr. Belmont remained at the helm of the American Kennel Club well into the Twentieth Century.

The first AKC Gazette was published in January 1889 with Mr. Belmont guaranteeing against the magazine's losses with a personal security of $5000. This Gazette has been in continual publication since that time without ever having to dip into Mr. Belmont's security fund.

In the early 1900's the AKC started a point system for earning a championship title. At that time, a total of ten points were needed for a title and the points were not dependent upon the number of dogs in the winning dog's breed, only the number in the entire show.

On January 10, 1910 changes were made in the prerequisite for championship titles. The new rules required the dog to acquire fifteen points under a minimum of three different judges with three of the points being awarded at one show. These three point or better shows are what now termed "majors".

In 1923 the AKC instigated the system of judging dogs in groups. At that time five groups were recognized:

1. Sporting Dogs - which included all hounds

2. Working Dogs

3. Toy Breeds

4. Terriers

5. Non-Sporting Breeds

In 1936 the first official rules and regulations for "Obedience Test Field Trials" were adopted.

Over the years the American Kennel Club grew and required larger accommodations. In 1964 it finally moved to its current location of 51 Madison Ave. New York, NY. 10010. It spread out to occupy several floors and eventually moved to its own building in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The AKC was slow in recognizing women's rights. It wasn't until 1974 that a motion to allow women to be delegates was passed by the vote of 180 - 7. In June of that year, Mrs. Carol Duffy of the Mid-Hudson Kennel Club, Mrs. Gertrude Freedman of the Bulldog Club of New England and Mrs. Julia Gasow of the English Springer Spaniel Club of Michigan became the first female representatives. The first female director of the AKC was elected March 5th, 1985.

Many changes have occurred in the American Kennel Club during the last twenty years.

Until the 1980s the largest group by far was the Working Dog Group. In 1983 a splinter, "The Herding Group" was developed and all herding dogs such as Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, Corgis and such were transferred to there.

Earthdog tests began in 1984, hunting tests in 1985 and many new judging guidelines in 1986.

Rules for registering litters conceived by artificial insemination were adopted in 1986.

In 1987 the American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog opened its doors in St. Louis, Missouri.

Herding tests and Lure coursing events were begun in the 1990s as well as Agility, Tracking and Canine Good Citizen.

The American Kennel Club has grown in leaps and bounds over the past century. From its first registered dog in 1885 to 1.2 million dogs and 555,000 litters in 1998. From a single desk, to the forefront for information about anything and everything concerning purebred dogs.

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