American Kennel Club: All Bark, No Bite By Maryclaire M.Farrington


Maryclaire M. Farrington 704-202-6080

Most Americans have seen the ASPCA commercial: Sarah McLachlan’s singing as flashes of dirty, dejected, skeleton-like dogs stare at you through the television. (1). Animal abuse in its most obvious form—horrified by all Americans. But there is a more invidious threat hiding behind the “picture-perfect” and heavily papered bulldog in the pet store window. Pedigree breeding and America’s obsession with the purebred dog has resulted in Frankenstein-like animals who suffer from the moment they are born, simply because they were born. One might not immediately think “animal abuse” when they see Uga VII, the mascot of the University of Georgia, spending his Fall Saturdays sleeping in his air-conditioned doghouse watching his favorite football team and sporting his little red doggie jersey. (2). But Uga VII only lived to watch two football seasons; he died of heart failure at just four years old. (3). His successor, Uga VIII quickly replaced him—and just as quickly died of lymphoma two years later. (4). The fates of the Ugas is unfortunately not unique. (5). Now, more than 500 genetic defects exist in purebred dogs—disorders and diseases perpetuated by the “artificial constructs of human fancy.” (6). Of the twenty million dogs in America, one in four are afflicted with a serious genetic problem. (7). For example, despite data that 70% of border collies suffer genetic eye disorders and 10% will eventually go blind (8) or that 60% of golden retrievers develop hip dysplasia, (9) humans continue to breed animals—prioritizing aesthetic features over the health and wellbeing of the dog. (10). America’s purebreds “have had their senses dulled and spirits broken.” (11). Yet, Americans continue to purchase—and value—purebred animals. In many ways, ownership of a purebred animal is a status symbol. (12). In America, the leading organization benefitting from the “purebred problem” is the American Kennel Club (“AKC”). Part I of this Article discusses the history of dog breeding and the origins of the AKC. Part II describes breeding standards and examines the harmful effects of such standards, including intentional inbreeding and mutilation. Part III dispels the myth that AKC-affiliation guarantees quality animals and breeders, and examines the AKC’s indifference to subversive breeders. Finally, Part IV analyzes how the AKC perpetuates breeding problems in the United States by opposing legislation intended to control the negative effects of dog breeding. I. History of Dog Breeding and the Origins of the Kennel Club

In the late nineteenth century, purebred dogs became a status symbol for America’s elite. (13). The first official dog show was held in England in 1859. (14). That same year, Charles Darwin published his treatise On the Origin of Species. (15). In his treatise, Darwin explained “natural selection” and evolution. (16). The idea that species evolve as a result of natural selection led to the idea that creatures could be “improved” into perfect beings by “getting rid of its undesirables while multiplying its desirables.” (17). As “a creation of the eugenics movement and heir to its misguided principles,” (18) the motivations of purebred dog breeding was clear from the start: form over function, beauty over practicality, and “creation through competition of a better breed.” (19). As the demand for purebred dogs over working animals increased throughout the late nineteenth century, (20) purebred dogs became a status symbol among the elite. (21). As pedigree became priority the value of these animals increased, validating the dog “fanciers.” (22). In an effort to prevent breeder fraud, the breed clubs devised the Stud Book (23) while simultaneously and strategically limiting show registration to a “carefully screened segment of the canine and, implicitly, the human population.” (24). In a way, the pedigree obsession reflected the nineteenth-century emphasis on class distinctions: To the “human elite … some dog pedigrees might identify parvenues.” (25). The AKC was founded in 1884. (26). The AKC is America’s premiere kennel club and recognizes and currently provides a registry of 200 breeds. (27). At its inception, the AKC founders “pledged “to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running and maintenance of purity of thoroughbred dogs.” (28). Yet the power of economics and a surge in demand has clouded the once-clear vision. In 1944, AKC registrations totaled 77,400 dogs. (29). Five years later, the total neared 236,000. (30). By 1970, the club registered a million dogs every year. (31). The AKC doubly profited from the surge in “purebred popularity” as their moneymaking breed shows took off as well—eleven all-breed shows in the late-nineteenth century is a trite memory when, by the late 1990s, 1.3 million dogs competed in 1,177 shows. (32). Today, in addition to its breed registry, the AKC organizes dog shows, provides publications on dog ownership, and sponsors the Canine Health Foundation, Companion Animal Recovery, the Museum of the Dog, and a pet insurance program. (33). The organization does not recognize individual members, (34) but instead is comprised of 620 member clubs and recognize an additional 4,500 clubs. (35). The AKC registers about 560,000 dogs and 270,000 litters annually. (36). Basic paper registration of individual dogs starts at $37.99, and litter registration starts at $25.00 plus $2.00 per puppy (37)—in 2010, approximately 40% of the AKC’s annual revenue came from registration-related fees. (38). Of course, the AKC also charges fees for entering shows and competing in events. (39). The nonprofit organization reported $86.06 million in modelled sales for 2022. (40). II. The Costs of the Purebred Pedigree

Breeding standards may be the root of all things “bad” in the purebred breeding world. Breeding standards are physical descriptions contain requirements of the “typical specimen” of a particular breed. (41). The standards “list such phenotypic characteristics as size, shape, coat, head, neck, ears, eye color, tail length, gait, and bite.” (42). Notably, many of the standards do not require the functionality of a breed (43)—often times, functionality is sacrificed for appearance. a. The Harm of Breeding Standards: From Inbreeding to Mutilation The priority of breeding specific characteristics to meet breed standards can have dramatic negative health effects on the animal. (44). Selecting breeding stock primarily based on physical appearance can perpetuate health concerns and inherited disease. (45). Because some breed standards require exaggerated looks and disproportionate features such as large eyes or excessive wrinkles, some breed characteristics cause pain and compromised welfare. (46). Furthermore, in some cases, puppies might be euthanized simply because they do not meet strict breed standards. (47). Inbreeding is also a major concern arising from the “pedigree-focused” mindset. (48). Inbreeding is the practice of mating animals with one or more common relatives. (49). Inbreeding increases the risk of inherited diseases such as “blindness, blood disorders, and metabolic problems.” (50). These animals are also subject to “inbreeding depression” which includes “decreased immune system function, decreased viability, decreased reproductive ability[,] and the loss of genetic diversity.” (51).
While the US does not have any national regulations on breeding, many Western countries do restrict breeding animals with “welfare-threatening characteristics.” (52). In a study of eleven Western countries, (53) every European jurisdiction except Denmark had rules which prohibited breeding dogs “with traits, defects, or serious abnormalities that can be expected to cause suffering either to the animal itself or to its offspring.” (54). For example, in the Netherlands, brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs must meet criteria established by an expert opinion appointed by the government. (55). The study also found that the US did not have any legislation on minimum age limits for mating and limits on the number of litters, while five of the sample countries did have existing legislation. (56). While certain breeds’ exaggerated features cause harm and pain to the breed, some breed standards require ear cropping and tail docking to satisfy the standard. (57). While some argue there are health-motivated justifications for the procedure, (58) this tradition of mutilation occurs “primarily to improve appearance.” (59). The processes of ear cropping and tail docking are painful (60) and can have a lasting negative psychological effect on the animal. (61). Yet, the mutilation does not end at ear cropping and tail docking—the AKC has permitted whisker-trimming for numerous breeds. (62). One veterinarian explains simply that “the net result is suffering.” (63). The physiological effects of physically altering breeds in this manner are significant. Dogs use their tails and ears as vital communication tools with other dogs. (64). For example, a dog’s tail may communicate that it is fearful when tucked, or excited when erect and wagging, (65) tucked ears may communicate suspicion or aggression. (66). Furthermore, the dog’s ability to independently position its ears contribute to hearing ability and location mapping. (67). Dog whiskers contain receptor cells that send signals to their brain to detect objects around them and “give a dog specific information about their environment” such as peripheral perception and detecting objects outside their normal field of vision. (68). Ear cropping and tail docking are illegal in most European countries, with an exception if the procedure is “performed by a vet for medical reasons.” (69). The 2006 Medical Welfare Act even refers to these processes as “mutilation,” (70) and the procedures are considered animal cruelty. (71). Despite such progress abroad, the same cannot be said for the United States. In 2013, the AKC recognized at least twenty breeds with cropped ears and sixty-two with docked tails. (72). The AKC continues to categorically state that ear cropping and tail docking are “acceptable practices integral to defining and preserving breed character, enhancing good health, and preventing injuries.” (73). The AKC claims that mutilation procedures are optional and that “[e]ven if it is traditional in a particular breed that the dogs have one of these alterations, it has the same potential to win as any other dog of the breed.” (74). Yet some breeders feel there is a bias against “natural” dogs, and one breeder even stated that “she would stop docking altogether if she could still compete [in a dog show] ‘on an even playing field.’” b. Comparing Primary U.S. Kennel Clubs’ Breed Standards While this Article focuses on the AKC, it is necessary to discuss the penultimate kennel club in the United States—the United Kennel Club (“UKC”)—and point out relevant comparisons to the AKC. The UKC was founded in 1898 to champion the “working dog.” (75). The UKC has since transitioned to emphasize the “Total Dog”: One which “displays equal parts Function, Temperament, and Structure.” (76). Simply put, the UKC’s Total Dog balances aesthetics with functionality. (77). This is reflected in the differences between the AKC’s and UKC’s breed standards across several breeds. The UKC unilaterally disqualifies unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidic males, (78) and dogs with viciousness or extreme shyness. (79). Contrastingly, AKC’s Disqualification Details state that “if a male has been disqualified for not having two normal descended testicles, the dog may continue to compete.” (80). The UKC also considers features that may present health concerns as faults.
For example, the UKC’s standard for the English Bulldog states that the ideal English Bulldog’s “[n]ose roll does not protrude over the nostrils, constricting breathing” and “[p]inched nostrils” and “[o]ver-nose roll, even if broken, that covers any part of the nose” are eliminating faults. (81). Differently, the AKC’s English Bulldog standard states that “[t]he distance from bottom of stop, between the eyes, to the tip of nose should be as short as possible and not exceed the length from the tip of nose to the edge of underlip” and does not mention any disqualifying features related to the health of the dog. (82). The UKC also considers “[t]eeth or tongue showing when the mouth is closed” to be an eliminating fault, (83) while the AKC requires that the Bulldog’s chops “join the underlip in front and almost or quite cover the teeth, which should be scarcely noticeable when the mouth is closed.” (84). The discrepancies of the AKC’s breed standards demonstrate that more humane standards are available and exemplified by the UKC. c. No Genetic Screening Requirements Despite the fact that many of the aforementioned health defects are inherited, the AKC overlooks genetic screening for purebred qualification—there is no requirement for breeders to perform health screening on their parent dogs or litters. (85). Health tests are only mandatory if a breeder wishes to advertise either as a “Breeder of Merit” and/or a member of the “Bred with H.E.A.R.T.” program. (86). Additionally, the health test requirements are set by the breed’s “parent club,” not veterinarians or researchers. (87). The parent clubs unilaterally write the standards for the breeds, and the AKC claims it cannot “make [the parent clubs] change [their breed standards].” (88). The flaws in the AKC’s parent club-oriented system become glaringly clear when you investigate the individual parent clubs’ statements for their respective breeds. For instance, the parent club for the pug does not require any genetic or health testing. (89). This means that an AKC-affiliated pug breeder can receive the “Breeder of Merit” and the “Bred with H.E.A.R.T.” designation without performing a single health-related test on the parents or the puppy. Other brachycephalic breed AKC parent clubs that do not require health or genetic testing are the Shih Tzu, (90) Pekingese, (91) and the Lhasa Apso. (92). Accordingly, by shifting the responsibility of determining the required health tests to parent clubs, the AKC is facilitating—and profiting from—negligent breeding. The lack of health screening requirements for at least four brachycephalic breed clubs is particularly problematic. Brachycephalic dogs are flat-faced and short-muzzled, resulting in major health issues like eye ulcers, spine abnormalities, and severe breathing difficulty. (93). One veterinarian even stated that brachycephalic dogs are “anatomical disaster[s]” and opined that “[t]he only time these dogs are not in some degree of respiratory distress is when you have them intubated under anaesthetic [sic].” (94). In contrast to the AKC, the UKC has a clearly established Breeder Code of Ethics. (95). However, they are similar to the AKC’s standards in that there is no identifiable system of enforcement or accountability—the Code of Ethics simply stands as a model their breeders should follow, not one they must. (96). Importantly, the UKC’s Breeder Code of Ethics echoes its breed standards and reiterates the Club’s prohibition of “knowingly breed[ing] monorchids, cryptorchids, dogs with vicious or shy temperaments.” (97). Additionally, the Code also emphasizes that breeders must “not continue to breed dogs that perpetuate inheritable disorders.” (98). Any individual who violates the UKC’s rules, including the Code of Ethics, is subject to suspension. (99). While the UKC’s Code of Ethics is not a perfect enforceable solution, it sends the message to breeders that the UKC cares about the welfare of the animals selected to breed—something the AKC fails to do with any significant “teeth.” (100).
III. Perpetuating the Problem: The Pedigree Obsession

The dark effects of pedigrees are unfortunately perpetuated by the systems that give unethical breeding decisions merit—the Kennel Clubs. (101). The blind commitment to physical appearance “has led to destructive forms of inbreeding that have created dogs capable only of conforming to human standards of beauty.” (102). As discussed, the AKC is the paramount kennel club in the United States. (103). However, unlike kennel clubs in other countries, (104) registration by the AKC does not guarantee the health, quality, or even “purity” of the animal. (105). a. AKC-Affiliated Breeder Welfare Violations According to its 2022 financial statement, the AKC claims its “Compliance [D]ivision inspects dog kennels and breeders to ensure the animals receive proper care.” (106). But as America’s “biggest, best known[,] and most powerful” breed club, the AKC’s focus on pedigree and appearance—read: money—has overshadowed the health and welfare of man’s best friend. (107). Although the AKC’s website does encourage “responsible breeding,” (108) a licensed AKC-registered breeder is not required to comply with any particular breeding rules or regulations. (109). The AKC confidently advertises that it is the “only purebred registry in the United States with an ongoing routine kennel inspection program.” (110). Yet, since 2000, the AKC field agents have only conducted around 70,000 inspections nationwide. (111). With 270,000 registered litters annually, this is a shockingly low number. (112).
It is no surprise, then, that AKC-affiliated breeders have appeared on the Humane Society of the United States’ “Horrible Hundred” list. The Horrible Hundred is an annual report published to “warn consumers about common problems at puppy mills … and to push for new legislation and stronger enforcement of humane laws.” (113). The tenth-annual list, published in May 2022, features ten AKC-affiliated breeders. (114). Worse still, four of the ten AKC breeders on the Horrible Hundred list have appeared on the list before: one breeder twice, one breeder four times, one breeder five times, (115) and one breeder, Ellen Roberts, has been on the list seven times in the last ten years. (116). Ellen Roberts’ facility was inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) in January and May of 2022. (117). In January, a USDA inspector reported that Roberts’ had nearly 200 puppies and dogs on her premises. (118). The inspector found that Roberts’ six dogs were outside with inadequate shelter in freezing temperatures and reported injured, limping, and emaciated dogs. (119). Four months later, another USDA inspection revealed Roberts’ had “at least 18 dogs confined amid piles of days-old feces and one dog stuck in a wire enclosure so small that the top of it was just 2 inches above the animal’s head.” (120). Missouri state inspectors visited Roberts’ facility at least four times in 2021 and early 2022, repeatedly citing “accumulations of trash and clutter,” as well as “decrepit and dangerous housing” for the dogs. (121). A September 2021 inspection revealed that Roberts had provided puppies as young as four weeks old Secnidazole—an anti-infective not intended for use in dogs. (122).
Despite the AKC’s March 2019 record that Roberts was suspended “from all AKC privileges for five years … for noncompliance with the AKC’s Care and Conditions policy (unacceptable conditions, dogs and/or facility),” (123) Roberts’ website still guarantees that her puppies are eligible for permanent registration with the AKC, (124) and her most recent litter of boxer puppies was born on October 27, 2022. (125). The Humane Society of the United States emphasizes that “Roberts’ association with the AKC is significant” because it suggests that the AKC “supports puppy mills over and above canine welfare.” (126).
While Ellen Roberts and the nine other AKC-affiliated breeders are featured on the Horrible Hundred list, one might argue they are a handful of “bad eggs” that fell through the AKC’s cracks. (127). Yet, the same argument cannot be made about Joan Huber. (128). In 2016, she won AKC’s Terrier Group Breeder of the year (129) and was one of seven finalists for the AKC’s ultimate award of Breeder of the Year. (130). Before competing in the 2016 National Championship, she was charged with eight counts of animal cruelty, (131) shortly after she plead guilty to four charges of felony aggravated cruelty to animals - torture and four charges of felony aggravated cruelty to animals - causing serious bodily injury or death. (132). Huber was a breeder for over sixty years and produced more than 850 AKC Champions—her puppies sold for well over $3,000 each. (133). At her trial, she asserted “the procedure was necessary to give her show dogs a ‘winning edge’ in the ring.” (134). And a “winning edge” it did give: In the 2016 AKC National Championship, she was listed as both an owner and breeder for five competing dogs, four of which won awards. (135). Despite a July 2018 AKC Board of Directors statement affirming Huber’s ten-year suspension issued in April 2018, (136) a search of the most recent AKC National Championship competitors reveals that one of Huber’s schnauzers—born in October 2017 (137)—competed. (138). Worse still, Huber is currently listed as a Breeder of Merit. (139).
IV. Opposing Progress: AKC’s Position on Animal Legislation Critics claim that the AKC strategically opposes legislation that would improve breeding facility conditions and prohibit high-volume breeders. (140). When the AKC opposes legislation, it generally rests on the idea that restrictive legislation “infringe[s] upon the rights of responsible dog breeds and responsible dog owners.” (141). In reality, the AKC makes a significant amount of “revenue from the purebred papers it generates [from] the massive amount of animals produced by commercial breeders each year.” (142). Historically, the AKC opposed a Rhode Island bill that would prohibit dogs from being caged or tethered for more than fourteen hours a day, (143) a Massachusetts bill that defined the process for law enforcement’s seizure of animals from suspected animal abusers, (144) a Louisiana bill that would prohibit stacking wire-floored cages, (145) as well as other legislative efforts in Oregon, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, New Hampshire, and California. (146). While the AKC is not the only kennel club in the United States, it undeniably has an “overwhelming influence.” (147). This influence is a result of its incredulous financial impact on local communities from its shows. An infographic on the AKC’s website claims that the AKC accredits more than 22,000 events in the United States annually. (148). The AKC claims that exhibitors spend $863 on average per show weekend, bringing more than $2.15 million into the local economy per show weekend. (149). The 2019 AKC National Championship Dog Show generated an estimated $64 million in economic impact for Orlando, Florida. (150).
A municipality’s economic boom resulting from hosting an AKC event has proven to be sufficient motivation to keep the AKC happy and returning—even if that means changing existing laws. For example, in 2005 the AKC threatened to relocate its annual championship event from Long Beach, California. (151). At the time, Long Beach was one of the few remaining cities in California that banned breeding of animals within city limits and prohibited operating kennels for the purpose of breeding. (152). The event brought in $4.6 million in convention and tourism revenue to the city in 2003. (153). Though Long Beach’s City Manager denied that the AKC influenced his decision to revisit the ordinance, (154) the AKC’s Chairman of the Board wrote the Long Beach mayor three times between June 2004 and March 2005. (155). In one letter, the Chairman stated: We are planning to return to Long Beach in 2006 and 2007 and would seriously consider Long Beach as the permanent site for our show if you could reexamine the breeding ban and develop a mutually satisfactory alternative … Our experience tells us that bans on breeding are not necessary if there are strong guidelines in place to ensure responsible practices. (156).

In March 2006, Long Beach repealed its breeding ban. (157). The AKC posted a “legislative alert” praising the city and claiming “[t]he change [came] as a result of nearly two years of collaborate work by local fanciers, kennel clubs, and city officials.” (158). Long Beach was the location for the national event through at least 2009. (159).
The AKC spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying every year. In 2021, the AKC spent $120,000 on lobbying, while in 2006—shortly after the Long Beach Scandal—the company spent nearly $230,000 on lobbying. (160). The AKC’s website lists their positions on thirty-five legislation topics—ranging from Animal Terrorism to Working and Detection Dogs. (161). In comparison, the UKC lists only five position statements. (162). Where the AKC and UKC statements discuss the same topic, they generally reflect similar positions. (163). Notably, the UKC does not have a listed legislation position on Debarking, Ear Cropping, Tail Docking and Dewclaw Removal, while the AKC supports these practices if performed by a “performed by a qualified, licensed veterinarian.” (164). As demonstrated, little progress can be made when the AKC opposes progress that threatens their programs and profits. V. Conclusion There is a pedigree problem in the United States. The health and welfare of American dogs have become a secondary consideration to aesthetics—largely at the hand of the AKC. The AKC makes millions of dollars annually due to the American obsession with the purebred dog and outwardly opposes legislation that would curtail their money-making ventures. Thus, one solution is the AKC shifting its focus to protecting the animals it profits from—hiring more inspectors and raising the bar for affiliated breeder status. Alternatively, a more realistic solution is to educate consumers—and allow them to recognize that AKC affiliation is not a hard-earned status, but rather a paid-for gold star.
Encouraging the adoption of paperless shelter dogs is a valiant alternative to a puppy mill purchase. However, as discussed, the preference for purebred is not a flashy fad, but a deeply-engrained human attraction to “perfect creatures.” At the minimum, consumers should investigate their breeders, request genetic testing, and visit breeding facilities before bringing home their new puppy. (165). And perhaps, one day, pet owners will hold the AKC accountable for the dark shadow they have cast on the doggy in the window.

Contact: Maryclaire M. Farrington 704-202-6080


  1. See Ragefc, Sarah McLachlan Animal Cruelty Video, YOUTUBE (Oct. 3, 2006),

  2. Benoit Denizet-Lewis, Can the Bulldog Be Saved?, N.Y. TIMES (Nov. 22, 2011),

  3. Id.

  4. Id.

  5. See Kat Eschner, The Evolution of Petface, SMITHSONIAN MAGAZINE (Jan. 31, 2018), French bulldogs are 14-70 times more likely to die due to respiratory problems than other breeds. Id.

  6. Koharik Arman, Animal Welfare, 48 CANADA VETERINARY J. 953, 953 (2007).

  7. Michael D. Lemonick, A Terrible Beauty, TIME (Dec. 12, 1994),,33009,981964,00.html.

  8. Id.

  9. Id.

  10. See, e.g., Nick Watt, Best of Breed? Pedigree Dogs Face Disease, ABC NEWS (Mar. 11, 2009), (“That dog I kept, out of the brother-sister breeding, … was one of the best stud dogs I’ve ever owned and produced over 80 champions.“).

  11. Michael Brandow, Why Breeding Pedigree Dogs is Just Eugenics by Another Name, GIZMODO (Mar. 17, 2015),

  12. Ruth Schuster, Vets Urge Action on Bulldogs: Stop Breeding for Extreme Features, HAARETZ DAILY NEWSPAPER, June 19, 2022.

  13. Lemonick, supra note 7.

  14. Walter R. Fletcher, A Brief History of the Dog Show, N.Y. TIMES, Mar. 20 1975, at 52.

  15. Olivia B. Waxman, The Dark Origins of Dog Breeding, TIME (Feb. 16, 2017, 5:42 AM),

  16. “Origin of Species” is Published, HISTORY (Nov. 22, 2021),

  17. Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Darwin, PBS, (last visited Dec. 10, 2022) (internal quotations omitted). See also Waxman, supra note 15.

  18. Brandow, supra note 11.

  19. Id. (citing Freeman Lloyd, What Is ‘Correct’ Conformation?, AKC GAZETTE, July 1943).

  20. Harriet Ritvo, Pride and Pedigree: The Evolution of the Victorian Dog Fancy, 29 VICTORIAN STUDIES 227, 227 (1986).

  21. Eschner, supra note 5.

  22. Ritvo, supra note 20, at 241.

  23. A Stud Book is “the recorded ancestry of every AKC registered dog and bitch, … almost a ‘dictionary’ for a breed.” The Importance of a Stud Book, NAT’L PUREBRED DOG DAY (July 1, 2017),

  24. Ritvo, supra note 20, at 241.

  25. Id. at 229–30, 239–40.

  26. Mark Derr, The Politics of Dogs, THE ATLANTIC (Mar. 1990),

  27. AKC Facts and Stats, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).

  28. Lemonick, supra note 7 (internal quotations omitted).

  29. Id.

  30. Id.

  31. Id.

  32. Id. See also infra text accompanying notes 147–50.


  34. How to Form a Club, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 12, 2022).


  36. Id. at 3.

  37. Registration Fee Schedules, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 12, 2022).

  38. Mary Pilon & Susanne Craig, Safety Concerns Stoke Criticism of Kennel Club, N.Y. TIMES (Feb. 9, 2013) (“Critics say a significant part of that includes revenue from questionable … or so-called puppy mills, which breed dogs en masse with little regard for basic living standards.”).

  39. How to Complete an AKC Dog Show Entry Form, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 11 2022).


  41. Derr, supra note 26.

  42. Id.

  43. Id.

  44. Søren Stig Andersen et al., Regulating Companion Dog Welfare: A Comparative Study of Legal Frameworks in Western Countries, 11 ANIMALS 1, 2 (June 2, 2021).

  45. What Animal Welfare Problems are Associated with Dog Breeding?, RSPCA (June 24, 2021), [hereinafter Animal Welfare Problems].

  46. Id.

  47. See, e.g., id.

  48. Animal Welfare Problems, supra note 45.

  49. Id.

  50. Id.

  51. Id.

  52. Andersen et al., supra note 44, at 5–6 (“Welfare problems can arise for large numbers of dogs in breeds with extreme phenotypes (e.g., brachycephalic breeds) or a high incidence of hereditary disease.”).

  53. The study included Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New South Wales, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United states. Id. at 5.

  54. Andersen et al., supra note 44, at 6 (“Most legislation targets hereditary diseases in the offspring.”).

  55. Id.

  56. Id.

  57. Michael W. Fox, Dog Mutilations, DR. FOX ONE HEALTH, (last visited Dec. 12, 2022).

  58. Canine Tail Docking FAQ, AVMA, (last visited Dec. 12, 2022) (explaining that reasonable medical justification for tail amputation may include an irreparable traumatic injury of the tail, tail deformities, or precautionary removal if there is “compelling evidence” that the animal is at a high risk of tail trauma based on defect, breed, or working activity).

  59. Id.

  60. Id.

  61. Fox, supra note 57.


  63. Fox, supra note 57.

  64. Id.

  65. Id.; Telephone Interview with Michael W. Fox, (Dec. 3, 2022).

  66. Telephone Interview with Michael W. Fox, (Dec. 3, 2022).

  67. Fox, supra note 57.

  68. Michael W. Fox, Dogs Need Their Whiskers, DR. FOX ONE HEALTH, (last visited Dec. 12, 2022).

  69. What to do if You See a Dog with Cropped Ears or a Docked Tail, STROUD DIST. COUNCIL (June 16, 2021),

  70. Id.

  71. Kim Kavin, Want Your Dog to Win at Westminster? You Might Need to Cut off its Ears or Tail., WASH. POST (Feb. 11, 2019, 10:57 AM),

  72. Id.

  73. AKC Statement on AVMA Crop and Dock Policy, AM. KENNEL CLUB (Nov. 26, 2008),

  74. Conformation: Frequently Asked Questions, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 9, 2022).

  75. History of UKC, UNITED KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 9, 2022).

  76. Total Dog, UNITED KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 9, 2022).

  77. Id.

  78. Cryptorchidism is an inherited medical condition that occurs when one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. Krista Williams, Robin Downing, & Ernest Ward, Retained Testicle (Cryptorchidism) in Dogs, VCA ANIMAL HOSPITALS, (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).

  79. UNITED KENNEL CLUB, ENGLISH BULLDOG 1 (2012), The AKC considers unilateral or bilateral cryptorchidic males a disqualifying feature in very few breeds. See, e.g., AM. KENNEL CLUB, WORKING GROUP BREED STANDARDS 5 (2022), (Rottweiler is the only breed with cryptorchidism as a disqualifying feature in the working group); AM. KENNEL CLUB, SPORTING GROUP BREED STANDARDS (2022), (cryptorchidism is not a disqualifying feature for any breed in the sporting group); AM. KENNEL CLUB, TOY GROUP BREED STANDARDS (2022), (cryptorchidism is not a disqualifying feature for any breed in the toy group); AM. KENNEL CLUB, NON-SPORTING GROUP BREED STANDARDS (2022), (cryptorchidism is not a disqualifying feature for any breed in the non-sporting group).

  80. Disqualification Details, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 10, 2022). Notably, the AKC’s Disqualification Details explain that “if three separate judges disqualify the dog for the same reason, the dog is ineligible for AKC conformation competition or for reinstatement.” Id.

  81. UNITED KENNEL CLUB, ENGLISH BULLDOG 2 (2012), “A dog with an Eliminating Fault is not to be considered for placement in a conformation event, nor are they to be reported to UKC.” Id. at 4.




  85. Telephone Interview with American Kennel Club Customer Service Representative Amy, American Kennel Club (Nov. 29, 2022); Breed Health Testing Requirements, AM. KENNEL CLUB (last visited Nov. 29, 2022).

  86. Breed Health Testing Requirements, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Nov. 29, 2022). But see infra text accompanying notes 127–39.

  87. Telephone Interview with American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation Representative, AKC Canine Health Foundation (Nov. 29, 2022). When asked what the Canine Health Foundation’s relationship was with the parent clubs, the representative simply responded: “They are our donors.” Id. Despite being the AKC’s in-house research group focused on canine disease research, the Canine Health Foundation “does not have any say” on what tests the breeds should undergo and do not inform the parent clubs on breed standards. Id. The Canine Health Foundation’s representative told me that the AKC believes that the parent clubs are the most knowledge about their respective breeds, and thus the breed standards and health tests are determined pursuant to the parent club’s “subjective self-selected excellence.” Id.

  88. Derr, supra note 26.




  92. DONALD E. SCHWARTZ, AMERICAN LHASA APSO CLUB HEALTH STATEMENT, (last visited Dec. 10, 2022) (“The Lhasa Apso is a very healthy, hardy, long-lived and ancient breed.”).

  93. Damien Gayle, Vets Ask Prospective Dog Owners to Avoid Pugs and other Flat-Faced Breeds, THE GUARDIAN (Sept. 21, 2016, 12:52 PM),

  94. Pugs are Anatomical Disasters. Vets Must Speak Out – Even if it’s Bad for Business, THE GUARDIAN (Sept. 22, 2016, 9:23 AM),

  95. Breeder’s Code of Ethics, UNITED KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 9, 2022).

  96. Id.

  97. Id.

  98. Id.

  99. Notice of Suspension, UNITED KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 9, 2022).

  100. “Although the [UKC’s] Code of Ethics is not specifically enforced and no penalties are imposed for failing to comply, it does at least remind breeders to think about genetic disease when they breed their dogs … . It clearly shows the UKC knows and admits genetic problems exist.” George A. Padgett, Canine Genetic Disease, DOG WORLD, Apr. 1997, at 36.

  101. Derr, supra note 26 (“[T]he AKC defines quality in a dog primarily on the basis of appearance, paying scant heed to such other canine characteristics as health, temperament, and habits of work.”).

  102. Id.

  103. See supra text accompanying notes 26–32.

  104. See generally Andersen et al., supra note 44.

  105. Years of Tradition Behind 2 Kennel Clubs’ Differences, CHI. TRIBUNE, June 8, 1986, at 21.

  106. Id.

  107. Lemonick, supra note 7.

  108. AKC’s Guide to Responsible Dog Breeding, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 11, 2022).

  109. Id.; Telephone Interview with American Kennel Club Customer Service Representative Amy, American Kennel Club (Nov. 29, 2022) (explaining that there is no health testing requirements for breeders).

  110. Inspections & Compliance, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 11, 2022).

  111. Id.



  114. See generally id.

  115. Margaret “Molly” Graf has appeared on the “Horrible Hundred” list five times. Id. at 66–67. Despite her appearance on the list this year, she is still formally listed on the AKC Marketplace. Margaret Graf, AKC MARKETPLACE, (last visited Dec. 16, 2022). The AKC Marketplace is the AKC’s “trusted resource” that “exclusively lists puppies from AKC-Registered litters, so you can choose a breeder with confidence.” AKC MARKETPLACE, (last visited Dec. 16, 2022).


  117. Nicole Meyer, Feds Find Dogs Neglected at Local Puppy Mill; PETA Seeks Criminal Probe, PETA (June 27, 2022),


  119. Meyer, supra note 117.

  120. Id.


  122. Id.


  124. Our Guarantee, ROCKY TOP K9S, (last visited Dec. 16, 2022).

  125. Boxer Puppies, ROCKY TOP K9S, (last visited Dec. 16, 2022).


  127. See Amy Worden, Report: AKC Opposes Efforts to Curb Puppy Mills, Combat Pet Cruelty, THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER (Jul. 10, 2012), (“[T]he hobby breeder who raises puppies in their home will be impacted in the same way as the large scale commercial internet puppy seller.”).

  128. There are many individuals with similar stories to Joan Huber. Id. A Pennsylvania woman, Mimi Winkler, had lost her kennel license when she was found guilty of animal cruelty—she moved to New York and continued to judge AKC shows after her conviction. Id.

  129. AM. KENNEL CLUB, ANNUAL REPORT 7 (2016),; Kim Kavin, ‘It’s a War’: Dog Breeders Rally Behind an 81-Year-Old Convicted of Animal Cruelty, WASHINGTON POST (Dec. 18, 2017, 7:30 AM),

  130. Seven Breeding Programs Named as 2016 American Kennel Club Breeder of the Year Group Honorees, AM. KENNEL CLUB (Sept. 6, 2016),

  131. Kavin, supra note 129.

  132. Daniel Walmer, Palmyra Woman Who Clipped Ears of Puppies Pleads Guilty to Torture of Miniature Schnauzers, ID NEWS, (last visited Dec. 16, 2022).

  133. Seven Breeding Programs Named as 2016 American Kennel Club Breeder of the Year Group Honorees, AM. KENNEL CLUB (Sept. 6, 2016),; Kavin, supra note 129.

  134. Kavin, supra note 129. Huber told a Washington Post journalist, “[I]t’s an art form, my dear, knowing how puppies grow and develop, how to make the ear the best, to fit the dog and the breed.” Id.

  135. 2016 AKC National Championship Results, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (search “Reg. Name” field for “Blythewood”) (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).


  137. Post-conviction inspections of Huber’s facility in October 2017 revealed she was in violation of her probation terms. Kavin, supra note 129.

  138. 2020 AKC National Championship Results, AM. KENNEL CLUB, (search “Reg. Name” field for “Blythewood”) (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).

  139. Id. (search “Reg. Name” field for “Blythewood” and follow “GCH CH Blythewood Ernhart Magic Moment” hyperlink). The information page of Blythewood Ernhart Magic Moment lists “Shawne Imler/Joan L Huber” as its “[b]reeder(s)” and features a blue banner above the names and at the bottom of the page with the text “AKC Breeder of Merit Participant.” Id.

  140. See, e.g., Pilon & Craig, supra note 38; Katherine C. Tushaus, Don’t Buy the Doggy in the Window: Ending the Cycle that Perpetuates Commercial Breeding with Regulation of the Retail Pet Industry, 14 DRAKE J. AG. L. 501, 509 (2009).

  141. Tushaus, supra note 140, at 509; Pilon & Craig, supra note 38.

  142. Tushaus, supra note 140, at 516.

  143. Pilon & Craig, supra note 38 (“The AKC opposed the bill because it featured language that was far more burdensome than just regarding tethering and confinement.”).

  144. Id. (“AKC is critical of proposals that attempt to permanently take dogs away from their owner-defendants who have not been found guilty of any crime.”).

  145. Id. (“Crates or other cage-type enclosures are commonly stacked in a safe and sanitary manner in veterinary offices, kennels, sporting events, homes, shows and during transportation.”).

  146. Id.

  147. Lemonick, supra note 7.


  149. Id.

  150. Id.

  151. Stephen Clark, Long Beach May Lift Ban on Dog Breeding, LOS ANGELES TIMES (Dec. 24, 2005, 12:00 AM),

  152. Id.

  153. Id.

  154. Id.

  155. Documents Show American Kennel Club Indicated Reversing LB’s Dog Breeding Ban Might Help Make LB Permanent Site for AKC Nat’l Shows Beyond 06-07, LBREPORT.COM (Jan. 5, 2006),

  156. Id.

  157. Long Beach Lifts Breeding Ban, AM. KENNEL CLUB (Mar. 10, 2006),

  158. Id.

  159. Telephone Interview with American Kennel Club Customer Service Representative Amy, American Kennel Club (Nov. 29, 2022).

  160. Client Profile: American Kennel Club, OPEN SECRETS, (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).


  162. UKC Position Statements, UNITED KENNEL CLUB, (last visited Dec. 18, 2022).

  163. Compare AM. KENNEL CLUB, SUMMARY POSITION STATEMENTS 1 (2022), (“The AKC strongly opposes any legislation that determines a dog to be “dangerous” based on specific breeds or phenotypic classes of dogs.”) with UNITED KENNEL CLUB, UNITED KENNEL CLUB POSITION STATEMENT BREED SPECIFIC LEGISLATION, (“United Kennel Club believes that breed specific legislation is highly ineffective in decreasing dog bites.”).


  165. See Michael W. Fox, Should the AKC Stay in the Doghouse? (Dec. 13, 2022) (forthcoming 2023) (on file with author).