Monday, 16 January 2012

Dog monopoly - time to pass go?

Irish Red and White Setter breeder Margaret Sierakowski sent in such an interesting comment to the blog yesterday, that I have asked her permission to make it a separate post in the hope that it will provoke the debate that I think it deserves.

"I had an interesting conversation last night with an Irish breeder of working gundogs. It seems that the Irish Competition Authority (their equivalent of our Competition Commission) has ruled that the IKC does not have a monopoly on registrations of dogs or licensing of competitive events for dogs. Nor can they prohibit people who use alternative registries or compete in events not licensed by the IKC from also registering their dogs with IKC or entering IKC shows, field trials etc.
"There are working gundog owners and breeders who feel the IKC is too much dominated by show breeders, who don't understand the working dog fraternity, and they are discussing setting up an alternative registry , appointing their own FT judges and running trials under their own rules. Apparently there are also some smaller shows already being run which have not been licensed by the IKC. Interesting.
"In the UK , the Kennel Club has maintained its monopoly as a registry and controller of all competitive events by simply ruling that dogs who are not registered by them cannot compete, and anybody who organises or enters a show or other event not licensed by them will be banned from future participation in KC licensed events.
"I can remember discussion in the 1980 among UK working spaniel breeders about setting up their own registry and running their own trials, and there was also setter and pointer triallers who wanted more freedom to run events for working dogs other than the KC licensed field trials , whose rules have hardly changed since the 1870s.
"But all the talk came to nothing, even though the disatisfactions rumble on. Probably as many as half of all UK working springers are unregistered, many of them are good working dogs, but they can't be used for breeding with KC registered dogs unless the breeder falsifies the names of the parents on ther application, which of course happens. The cocker/springer crosses continue but also remain illicit under the KC registration system.
"Is it not time for somebody to take the case of the KC's monopoly on registration and stranglehold on the licensing of events to the Competition Commission. A little more competition might focus the mind of the KC on progress into the 21st century. We might be able to get more flexibility on crossbreeding and the introduction of unregistered dogs into breeds. We might be able to hold dog shows which focus more on dogs being healthy, sound and fit for function, and award titles only to dogs certified as fit and healthy and tested for whatever is required for the breed. 
"Just a thought, comments welcomed. Anybody willing to take on the Competition Commission? I suspect it wouldn't be difficult to get a positive ruling. At the very least it might jolt the KC into faster change."

I think I'm right in remembering that gundog breeder Derry Argue (Advie Gundogs) tried to challenge the KC on this some time ago?

Of course, there are now alternative registries in the UK, even if they don't amount to that much for the serious breeder - apart, that is, from working registries such as the International Sheep Dog Society (ISDS). And I believe that Border Collies can be registered with both the KC and the ISDS, so this already happens in a limited sense.

Of more interest, to me at any rate, is a challenge that would allow other organisations to license events and then prevent the KC from banning those who participate in them from subsequent KC-licensed events - if, indeed, this rule still applies. Does anyone know?


  1. "Of more interest, to me at any rate, is a challenge that would allow other organisations to license events and then prevent the KC from banning those who participate in them from subsequent KC-licensed events - if, indeed, this rule still applies. Does anyone know?"

    I believe that this rule may no longer apply.

    When the Gundog Club first began running Field Tests some KC judges were afraid to act as Assessors for the GC for fear of reprisals (ie being banned from judging future KC events)

    Our legal advisors believed that any such reprisals would be illegal and we sought clarification from the KC.

    The KC wrote to the Gundog Club in February 2006 confirming that it would not take any action against anyone competing in our events or assessing our students.

    I understand that Agility clubs have also challenged this ruling in some way, but can’t remember any detail about it.


  2. I think the dog registry should be a completely different function than dog activities of any kind and both should not be run by the same agency.

    Every dog should be registered in a national Or international)database that also includes its vaccinations,pedigree if available, the number of times it was bred, to whom, major illnesses and known genetic diseases and cause of death. All excess money collected for fees should be devoted to improving the flexibility and usefulness of the database, not to anything but recording facts and details about each registered animal and being able to use the data for many other purposes.

    Breed clubs and conformation shows, sporting clubs, sports clubs (ie for frisbee sports and other new dog sports) civic agencies, 4h clubs, children's clubs and the like should be separate from the registry, but the activities and awards etc should able to be optionally listed by the owner, in each dog's section of the registry.

    I just posted my more detailed ideas about this today in my blog:

    I am not a firebrand or a young turk; I am old in years, but new to dog blogging. I bring a lifetime of thinking about dog breeding and kennel clubs, raising dogs, both registered and unregistered, to my opinions which are pretty much ignored, so far. I am sure, that if I live long enough, I will be able to say, "I told you so", so I will continue to opine and take hope in such work as you have done in PDE.

    One of the obvious results of your work is this kind of discussion.


    After I wrote the above post, I did some checking up on the information I had been given from Ireland. It refers to an agreement reached with the IKC in 2003, after complaints made to the Competition Authority by the German Shepherd club who wanted to hold their own shows, not under IKC rules , without their members or judges being penalised by the IKC for organising, entering or judging such shows. I'm not sure the issue of a separate registry was involved. Was some of this about double handling of German Shepherds at shows, which the IKC didnt allow?
    I know there were working springer people in the UK in the 1980s , among them Keith Erlandson, who wanted to have their own registry for springers, and to run their own events. I seem to remember working springer breeders in Denmark had set up their own registry outside their national KC. And yes, Derry Argue wanted to run trials and other events for setters and pointers in a different way from the KC field trials, but the KC wouldnt entertain his ideas. He hasnt run dogs in field trials since then

    Personally, I'm not sure I would want to be outside the KC , and in another registry. For one thing, I export some of the setters I breed, and they need an export pedigree from a national KC in order to be registered in another country.

    But its not a very healthy situation when one organisation, which doesnt have a democratic structure, has a monopolistic stranglehold. It tends to reinforce a conservative approach , and the maintenance of the status quo, rather than a willingness to change and innovate

  4. @ Caitlin Williams who said "sports clubs (ie for frisbee sports and other new dog sports)" why would you support such a thing if you speak to ANY vet who deals with the damage done to so many dogs catching frisbees, it well documented that such activity ruines the health of hundreds of dogs every year

    1. I have never heard that. I have never seen that. I suppose ballet ruins a lot of human athletes too- you know- hips, knees, toes, backs. I hardly know a former dancer without some ravages..... or maybe football does the same. Or beach volleyball. or....... or.....

      What is your point?

  5. Wow. It never occurred to me that such a thing would be in question -- that a kennel club could exercise that kind of power over what else its customers (not members, not signatories of any code of ethics) could do with the dogs they OWN.

    That explains a lot about the differences between the British and American worlds of dogs.

    The AKC would love to have that kind of illegitimate power, but they couldn't pull it off in this country. They'd go down in flames even faster than they are already.

    Good to see that the venerable Anonytroll has already brought a big platter of teh Crazy today.

  6. Annie Macfarlane16 January 2012 at 21:52

    As somebody who has helped to run pointing tests, I can say that we operated under KC Rules and Regulations, had KC judges but were an unaffiliated club. I think as long as you work under the kc guidelines it's fine. I do agree that the KC does have the monopoly and I would certainly like to see some changes take place.

    My idea is that the area of health and welfare conflicts with litter registrations. I would like to see the area of health and welfare removed from the KC so that they follow regulations set down by an independent body who has no conflict of interest and only has the best interests of the dogs at heart.

  7. I think that the British Kennel Club has relaxed some of its rules now.

    Certainly the Agility people have a seperate organisation, and a friend of mine who competes does so at both Kennel Club registered events, and the other independent organisation.

    Once, if you entered your dog, or judged at a 'fun' dog show and the Kennel Club got wind or it you would be fined, but now I am pretty certain that this is not the case.

    I have a feeling that the Kennel Club were challenged on these issues, and it was found not to be legal. I am sure that somebody knows the ins and outs of whether this is so regarding the competitive scene.

  8. Border collies in the US that have bee registered with the AKC cannot be registered with the ABCA, which uses stock from the ISDS, without jumping through multiple hoops. It's fun religious war in border collies. It resembles seventeenth century France and everyone is either a Huguenot or a Catholic.

    I'm now arguing for something like a Vatican II for the dog fancy. I still think you need an institutionalized fancy. Otherwise, lines will die out as people die off, and politics can keep strains apart when they should be together. This happens whether it's the big institutionalized KC's or with single breed registries-- see the Shiloh shepherd.

    1. This is not true.

      ABCA deregisters pageant champions (AKC, KC, UKC, whatever) when they find out about them, but does not penalize owners who dual-REGISTER the dogs.

  9. Retrieverman wrote:

    "Border collies in the US that have bee registered with the AKC cannot be registered with the ABCA, which uses stock from the ISDS, without jumping through multiple hoops."

    Is this true? I think the ABCA will de-register any dog that is published as winning an AKC conformation championship, but I don't think they have any kind of by-law or even the manpower to determine which registered dogs are also AKC registered, and if one was to have a separate registered name for their dog in both registries they would not have any way of knowing.

  10. Regarding licenced events - the Kc tried to ban anyone taking part in other agility shows such as UKA and BAA saying that if anyone competed at these shows they would be banned from KC shows. However, BAA instructed a solicitor who was prepared to take the KC to court. Apparently, it didn't get that far. The KC conceded and and now any competitor can compete in any shows organised by any of the above and compete in KC agility as well. If anyone would like to contact BAA (you can put BAA Agility in your search engine and it will come up for you)I am sure they would be only too pleased to inform you of what happened.

  11. Heather, about 5 or 6 years ago AKC tried to put a judging conflict policy in place that would have kept AKC judges from judging for other organizations if they wanted to continue judging for AKC. I think the policy was meant to apply to both conformation and performance sports. Fortunately there was sufficient outcry that AKC reconsidered.

    1. I remember that. The Wayne Cavanaugh rule. They didn't think much of their former VP judging their shows while owning a competing registry. Went over like a lead balloon.

  12. James Callingham18 January 2012 at 09:48

    Jemima, have you not noticed the GSD shows that have been held in recent years that are not KC licensed? Did you see any dogs being thrown off the KC register because they competed at these events? I know quite a few GSD people (whose dogs are perfectly healthy btw!) that attend non-KC licensed events with their KC registered dogs and the KC know this and do not bat an eyelid! This obviously shows that the comments about creating a ‘monopoly’ aren’t true surely? Do you see loads of agility competitors having their Collies deregistered because they take part in non KC agility events? You may receive less 'anti-Jemima' comments if you got yourself up to date before you make silly assumptions that lack any basis in fact, as this is simply not true.


  13. Another good comment James, I was wondering when someone would remember the GSDs.

    There are actually quite a few performance 'sports' that operate outside KC recognition. Anyone is perfectly entitled to compete in these and at a licenced breed or performance event the following day. Although running independantly of the KC, Rally Obedience is really taking off in the UK and is a perfect example of KC registered dogs participating in events unlicensed by the KC that can legitimatly continue to be entered in KC licenced breed or obedience shows.

    Only KC registered dogs can compete for awards at shows (breed or performance events) licensed by the KC - apart from Companion/Exemption shows which any dog can enter, but anyone with a KC registered dog can do whatever they like with it. I think the main reason the KC appears to have a monopoly is simply because they are the largest and most prestigious organisation and any events/awards etc run outside their approval carry no real weight.

    I'm reasonably sure it would be possible for any group to set up their own independant club with registration system and competitions, but unless recognised by some other well respected body (as in the case of the GSD shows) there won't be much enthusiasm or motivation for most breeders to switch from the KC. I suspect it is this, rather than anything more sinister, that has caused most such attempts to flounder.

  14. Interestingly, the KC will only allow registered pedigree dogs to compete in KC International Agility Shows. If you have a dog registered on the KC Activity Register that doesn't count, you still can't run them in their Inernational Shows. But whether your dog is registered on the KC Activity Register and is a crossbreed or pedigree, you can still represent the UK at UKA International Shows.

  15. I think this is against the KC's wishes but in this instance, they are having to comply with FCI rules. I think you are referring to British teams competing abroad, where the KC has no jurastiction. I'm reasonably sure the KC International Agility Festival (held in the UK) permits any registered dog to compete, whether peigree or not.

  16. Julia your comment 'I think this is against KC's wishes . . .' don't think so, since the person that instructs me in agility has a grade 6 coming into grade 7 dog, who is a collie, but not registered as a purebred on the KC pedigree register and he has just tried out for UKA to represent the UK at international shows, but the reason he did that is because he can't represent the UK through the KC international shows either here or abroad. He and his parents have been doing agility for decades, so I'm sure he would have got the KC ruling correct.

  17. James Callingham20 January 2012 at 10:59

    Yes you are right Julia re the International Agility Festival. Loads of my agility friends go there each year and I asked them about this, they said there are literally hundreds of crossbreeds competing, so the issue of 'having to be pedigree' does not come into it!


  18. James and Julia, have just checked with the KC at 13:08 with a lady called Lara in the Activities Dept., who has confirmed that to represent the UK at KC Shows in the World Section your dog has to be registered on the pedigree register. However, to compete for the UK in KC Shows in Europe it can be just on the activity register. Have also emailed, so more confirmation may be coming through shortly.

  19. Just to reafirm what I said at approx 13:08 today I have just had an email from the KC and I quote; 'Thank you for your email. To represent the UK in the European Open
    Championships a dog can either be on the pedigree register or the
    activity register but to represent the UK at the World Agility Open a
    dog must be on the pedigree register.

    Kind regards,

    1. Because the the FCI have deemed it so, not the Kennel Club who support ALL dogs ability to compete regardless of backgound, yet when those who praise the Sweedish or Finnish KCs , they forget they are more about Pure breed than the KC ever has been

    2. Interesting. Thanks for that. I will explore further.