CKC vs AKC: What’s the Difference?

By John Martin - April 11, 2022

Dog running in a meadow

If you closely follow breeding standards or frequently enroll your dog in competitions, the chances are that you know of, or have heard of, the CKC and AKC, at least in passing.

Though both organizations are highly similar in their functions, structure and even their abbreviations, to an extent! However, major differences between the two do exist, from their standards, rules, regulations to their history.

Read on for a complete breakdown of the differences between the CKC and the AKC!

American Kennel ClubContinental Kennel Club
StartedSeptember 17, 18841991
# of Recognized Breeds177 dog breeds divided into 7 groups450 dog breeds
Costs (single dog)Ranges from $33.00 – $82.99Ranges from $15.00 – $69.99
RegistrationPurebred with only AKC-registered parentsPurebreds and mixed breeds
RulesMust have purebred AKC-registered parents with strict rules against inbreeding.More lenient rules and doesn’t follow the closed registration policy

American Kennel Club

One of the most reputed, respected organizations, the AKC or American Kennel Club boasts a rich history of recognizing and setting the standards for dog breeds. The go-to organization for purebred dogs and their owners, AKC goes way back—the organization first started operations in 1884!

The American Kennel Club is the largest registry of purebred dog pedigrees in the United States, in addition to being the only non-profit one. The organization is highly prestigious; it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it’s the most popular or most influential pedigree registry in the United States.

The AKC is the brain behind many events and activities that promote and showcase purebred dogs, such as the Westminster Kennel Dog Show and the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship (now sponsored by Royal Canin).

A Brief Timeline

The AKC, as mentioned earlier, started off in 1884. For a long period from 1884 (till 1929), the club’s members came up with and put in place several rules and regulations for purebred dogs in the country, inspired by the kennel clubs of Europe.

In 1929, they published the Pure Bred Dogs book, later rechristened The Complete Dog Book, a veritable encyclopedia on purebred dogs. With this, the AKC cemented its place as one of the top breed-standards organizations in not just the States, but also the world.

In 1956, the AKC attained its nonprofit status, becoming the only kennel club in the United States to be nonprofit.

Today, the AKC hosts various competitions for breeds, incorporating a variety of modern technologies, such as DNA testing, to ensure that registered dogs do, indeed, belong to a purebred lineage.

The AKC is not a member of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (also known as the World Canine Organization).

Rules, Regulations and Standards

According to the AKC, there are 177 different purebred dog breeds; these are divided into 7 groups, namely:

  • Terrier
  • Hound
  • Sporting
  • Non-sporting
  • Working
  • Toy
  • Herding

In order to be registered with the AKC, the dog in question must come from a sire and dam who are both AKC registered, too, having met all the requirements and eligibility criteria of the organization.

Additionally, the litter the puppy came from must also be registered. In case any requirements aren’t met, the AKC may decide to conduct special research into their registry to determine the dog’s fit.

The screening process of the organization is pretty stringent; in addition, they have records of dogs dating back to 1884, so you can rest assured that a thorough check is done prior to registration!

The AKC also runs an invite-only event—the AKC National Championship. In this championship, the top-25-ranked dogs of each breed compete to win the title of “Best in Show”. Needless to say, only dogs registered with the AKC are eligible to compete.

Pros and Cons

While it’s a great thing that only dogs whose parents are also registered are considered, thereby negating any mix-ups, the organization has received flak for its purebred obsession. This obsession in itself isn’t bad, but some of its consequences are.

For instance, this strict purebred policy leads to the evil practice of inbreeding by breeders as not enough AKC-registered parents are available. This leads to hereditary genetic disorders within the dog breeds. They’re all about the old blood, which further propagates inbreeding.

However, to combat this, AKC has been transferring registries from other countries, which has helped battle inbreeding to a great extent.

They also have zero health standards in place for breeding or even testing for signs of genetic disease; the only rule that addresses this, to some extent, is the one which requires dogs to be 8 months or older to breed.

Additionally, there exist many claims that the AKC prioritizes the dog’s physical appearance, giving almost zero importance to their behavioral or emotional health; the organization has no standards for the same, which speaks of a disregard for the well being of the dogs.

Continental Kennel Club

ckc logo

Also a registry for purebred dogs, the Continental Kennel Club or CKC was started in Louisana’s Livingston area in 1991. The relatively “new kid on the block”, CKC is the product of a family-based business, founded by George Fontenot.

Currently, Fontenot’s son, Mike Roy, runs the CKC, after his father’s death in 2001.

The CKC is a commercial registry for dogs and breeders but without the heritage and history of the AKC. Its rules and registration are more lenient and standards more relaxed; there is no strict need to subscribe to the exact same breed standards.

Like the AKC, you need to pay to register your dog; however, if you register the whole litter, you can avail free registration.

Rules, Regulations and Standards

Unlike the AKC, the CKC recognizes a whopping 450 breeds of dogs, along with a special category devoted to developing new breeds. To register a puppy, the mother or dam must be registered with the CKC and recognized as purebred, whereas for the father or sire, registration with a CKC-recognized organization is sufficient.

Some of the recognized institutions include the AKC itself, the Animal Research Foundation and the Australian Labradoodle Association of America. Dogs registered with the CKC can only claim 4 generations of purebred lineage.

Additionally, the organization runs a “PAW Evaluation Program”, where owners/breeders can pay a fee and submit information to prove that their dogs are purebred and are eligible to be registered.

The proof submitted includes 3 pictures of the dog (to verify pedigree) as well as 2 witnesses who can testify to the breed’s authenticity. If this checks out, new dogs are accepted into the registry; wrong breeds are rejected.

The CKC also provides a range of other services, such as photo registration, ID cards for doggos, pedigree photos and the option of having their dog’s picture on the registration papers.

Pros and Cons

The great thing about the CKC is that they don’t follow a closed policy of registration, citing that this leads to a lot of inbreeding and genetic disorders among breeds. They also register mixed breeds.

By disallowing closed registrations, the CKC also allows for the expansion of the gene pool without compromising on the quality of the breed itself. The acceptance of new dogs into the registry is also a plus, as is the photo evidence demanded—this ensures that the standards of the breed are adhered to.

However, the CKC has met with criticism for their lenient registration standards. Many owners fear that their dogs will be mixed with mixed-breed dogs; this also allows for dogs who look only like one parent without a trace of the other.

Breeding such dogs will lead to the next generation being compromised, even if it isn’t evident in said dog’s generation. Some people have even gone so far as to call the American CKC a puppy mill.

Though we’re all for mixed breeds and believe they’re every bit as great as purebreds, it can be disappointing to owners who are looking for particular looks or traits to not get what they expect. This could lead to them feeling cheated.

Lastly, the CKC has also received more than its fair share of criticism for having the same abbreviation as the highly renowned Canadian Kennel Club, causing quite a bit of confusion.

The Bottomline

As it is with any organizations, both AKC and CKC have had their fair share of negative limelight. Though some of it may arise from valid concerns, some of it may also arise from prejudiced people who’ve been made fools of by bad breeders, or irresponsible owners.

It is important to remember that both AKC and CKC work hard to differentiate irresponsible owners and breeders and lessen any damage that can be caused by them.