No good news for dogs as AKC announces its most popular breeds

By on May 7, 2020 with 12 Comments

Last year, we assisted with the care and placement of dozens of dogs rescued from the property of a German Shepherd breeder in Maryland. The breeder was cashing in on the popularity of a breed celebrated by the American Kennel Club, which has consistently placed German Shepherds at the top of its list of most popular breeds for many years now. The dogs were being kept in filthy conditions, as far as can be from the glamour of a show ring—two puppies were found in a dirty bathroom with what appeared to be fecal matter and urine on the ground, and many of the adults were filthy, fearful and thin.

This year, once again, German Shepherds, like Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, English and French bulldogs and poodles, rank high on the AKC’s list of top 10 most popular breeds. The list, released this week, has become a matter of concern for animal protection organizations because it serves as a reference point and incentive for puppy mills to churn out countless numbers of the top-ranking dogs each year for sale.

To add insult to injury, AKC lends misleading credentials to many indiscriminate breeders who produce these purebred dogs, without regard for the problems caused by indiscriminate breeding, inbreeding and the lack of socialization for the animals. On top of that, the AKC vigorously opposes any attempts made by lawmakers and organizations like ours to improve the treatment of animals in puppy mills.

AKC dog breeders have often appeared in our annual Horrible Hundred reports; some have been charged with animal cruelty for keeping their dogs in dreadful conditions. In March, I told you about a dog rescued from an AKC breeder in Caldwell County, North Carolina, who was all skin and bones, riddled with parasites and lethargic. She was also pregnant with seven puppies, four of whom died at birth; the remaining three required hospitalization and round-the-clock care to survive.

One of the most heartbreaking stories is that of Wild Bill. Once an AKC champion dog, this Australian Cattle Dog competed in AKC events, winning ribbons for his good looks. Tragically, after his glory days in the show ring were over, Wild Bill was discovered by local law enforcement officials at a Mississippi puppy mill, where he was starving in a filthy, rusted crate with inches of feces-infested water around him. But if that wasn’t bad enough, an AKC inspector who saw it all gave the kennel a clean inspection report.

Although it registers only pure breeds, the AKC doesn’t hesitate to profit from “designer” mixed breeds like “labradoodles” and “goldendoodles” either. These dogs are in demand because of beliefs that every lab or golden retriever is friendly with children and that poodles are hypoallergenic. The hype is misleading, because mixing any breed with a poodle does not automatically make the offspring non-shedding or allergen-free, yet pet stores don’t hesitate to cash in on the misconception. These dogs also frequently suffer from genetic problems, as do other popular AKC breeds like bulldogs, which can lead to big medical bills and heartbreak for those who buy them.

AKC partners with Petland, the nation’s largest chain of puppy-selling pet stores, offering to enroll mixed breed dogs the store sells in its “Canine Partners program.” The program includes an “official certificate from the American Kennel Club honoring your dog,” and the eligibility to participate in agility and other performance events, all for a fee. Petland, which notoriously sources puppy mill dogs, has been a subject of eight HSUS investigations for its terrible mistreatment of the animals in its care. Many Petland stores boast “AKC Inspected” signs.

The AKC also regularly uses its platform to bash animal rescues – the same groups that help mixed breed dogs who are homeless and in need. Right now, it is also opposing a common-sense law in Massachusetts that would protect dogs from being left outside in harsh weather. And it regularly fights local and state laws that protect dogs in puppy mills, including laws that prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies in pet stores.

One of the things we have learned during this crisis is just how many Americans are eager to adopt and foster dogs from animal shelters. Shelters do amazing work, and they should always be the first stop for anyone looking to bring a pet home but if families are unable to find a rescue dog, seeking out a responsible dog breeder is key to ending the puppy mill trade. Dogs are truly our best friends, and their companionship–especially in these stressful times–is invaluable. They deserve to be celebrated, and as long as the AKC contributes to their suffering, we will continue to fight the group with all of our might.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No es justo que seguimos discriminando los animalitos solamente por su raza todos tienen sentimientos por favor sigamos luchando por los animalitos no nos olvidemos de ellos

  2. Sylvia Lewis says:

    The AKC should have been abolished decades ago…..

    • Katie Waller says:

      YES ‼️ Thank you 🙏

    • Troy P. says:

      I think that there may be some responsible breeders that breed for the AKC, but this is ridiculous. The responsible ones on AKC Marketplace look the same as the irresponsible ones. They encourage you to look closer at the breeder, but there are ZERO resources to help you find which one is responsible and which one isn’t. They really do need to do a better job of distinguishing legit breeders form puppy mills, and keep those ugly idiots that run puppy mills off the marketplace.

      • Daniel says:

        I’ve been looking into a pure bread german shepherd for months. At 37, I’ve had 13 adopted/street dogs who were great companions. I’ve always wanted a shepherd, however, doing my research, they’re hard to come by without folding into these puppy hell mills. I cannot, with good conscience, purchase one until I research the breeder thoroughly.

        • Mary Sumrall says:

          Responsible breeders have entries at Dog shows . Go and meet the
          Owners, breeders, and professional handlers.. After the handlers
          Have finished showing their dogs , they have time to talk.
          That’s how I got my first German shepherd 75 years ago.
          Have had the breed ever since. If you want to buy, or adopt
          A pig in a poke, that’s your business.

        • Natalie G Riddick says:

          Temperament , Temperament , Temperament !!! Heaith and soundness , health and soundness , health and soundness !!! BE CAREFUL ! Find a “Preservation ” breeder of German Shepherds before you purchase one !

    • Martha Taylor says:

      I agree whole heartily. Those dogs go through hell for owners who just show dogs for their own glory. Ban this silly show.

  3. Alice says:

    The AKC is a money making raket that does nothing for the animals.

  4. Paula Lehman says:

    It is appalling that the USDA doesn’t shut down puppy mills when clear abuses occur.

    The public buying pets online needs to become educated regarding the horrible lives these
    animals are forced to endure.

  5. Linda Hollfelder says:

    I can’t understand why they treat these poor animals this way! Can’t the police be called and animals taken from puppy mills and they be shut down perminately! And most of all a hard jail sentence given. No excuse for starving these animals, neglecting their health, denying them room to run and love. Why no water too? This makes me sick & Angrey as hell!!!! There is a special place for these ppl in hell!!!

  6. Phil & Cathy Hunnicutt says:

    Abolish the AKC NOW!!!!!!! They are the problem of these puppy mills and abuse to these animals.

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