Sunday, November 29, 2009

AKC Announces It Will Ruin Three More Breeds

This purina ad from the 1960s is targetted at raccoon hunters.

The American Kennel Club has formally announced that it intends to ruin three more breeds of working dogs -- the Redbone Coonhound, the Bluetick Coonhound, and the Boykin Spaniel.

All three dogs will be eligible for AKC conformation shows beginning Dec. 30th. 

  • The Redbone Coonhound, named after 19th Century raccoon hunter and hound breeder Peter Redbone of Tennessee, has existed in fine fettle and without help from the AKC since the mid-19th Century, and has been registered with the United Kennel Club for more than 100 years.   Its rootstock is English Foxhound crossed with Bloodhound.

  • The Bluetick Coonhound, named after its coat color and pattern, was devloped in Louisiana and has existed in fine fettle and without help from the AKC since the early 20th Century.  It has been registered by the United Kennel Club for more than 60 years.  Its rootstock is mostly English Foxhound mixed with Bleu de Gascogne Hound from southwest Franc, Black and Tan Foxhound, and various strains of Louisiana Cur (aka Catahoula Leopard Dog).

  • The Bokykin Spaniel was created by L. Whitaker Boykin in South Carolina around 1900, from a mixture of old-style field Cocker Spaniels, Field Spaniel, Water Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever and Springer Spaniel.  The dog is mostly used as a turkey-hunting dog, and is South Carolina's official state dog.  The Boykin Spaniel has always had a very small gene pool, and as a consequence the dog is plagued with serious health problems, including a very high incidence of hip dysplasia (over 1/3 of all dogs).   Why anyone would want to pull a breed of terminally ill dogs into a closed registry system is beyond me, but the AKC has done it before (and recently) with the Dogue de Bordeaux

Why is the AKC so eager to bring new breeds into their registry? 

Simple:  Their business plan is in free fall and they are desperate to boost numbers.

AKC registrations have fallen 55% over the course of the last 15 years

The AKC's main push, as I have noted before, is to enroll more puppy mill and pet shop dogs, and they have gone so far as to install a special computer program so that more puppy mill dogs can be registered at pet store point of sales.

Their second battle front, however, is to add new breeds to the AKC's roles, especially breeds that already have a devoted  following, such as Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers and various types of Coon Hounds. 

Of course, devotees of true working dogs have pushed back on the AKC, and for a simple reason:  The American Kennel Club has never created a working breed of dog, but they have ruined every working breed they have drawn on to their roles.   


Heather Houlahan said...

I just keep holding on to the hope that by the time ACK finds enough patsies to form a boot-licking "breed club" for my breed, they'll have gone far enough in the process of collapsing under their own weight that they can't do any serious damage.

The signs are hopeful. The number of owners who prance around in the UKC show dog Special Olympics (you get a "championship" just for showing up) holds happily steady in the single digits. There's no demand for "champion line" puppies that I can determine -- educated buyers know to ask instead about OFA and PennHIP and temperament, ignorant buyers won't pay more than a couple hundred bucks anyway. The Club registry thrives in the wake of the UKC's misfire and arrogance, and our dB developer would destroy the studbook before allowing the AKC to get hold of it.

I think there's a good chance for the coonhounds to survive a working/pageant split -- they are numerous and their owners are by and large unimpressed with shiny stuff and monkey suits. A few dogs will be kidnapped from the population to serve as captive show dogs, but most houndsmen will carry on as before, ignoring the frippery and not breeding to useless animals. The Boykin, with its small and unhealthy gene pool, is likely doomed.

PBurns said...

I hope you are right!

The AKC has not done well trying to hijack working breeds.

The folks who want a real Jack Russell terrier would never get a Parson Russell Terrier -- a dog almost never found in the field and which is already looking like a Fox Terrier.

From what I gather, the same dismal result has occured for Border Collie pretenders in the AKC.

Coonhound hunters are, as you note, generally not impressed by nonsense. The bullshit stops when you tailgate drops!

Let us hope the direction and trajectory continues as it is now. I think it will, but I am not averse to whipping the Devil down to Hell just a little faster!


Heather Houlahan said...

You know, I can't believe I forgot about this.

It was the UKC that pulled the blueticks and Redbones into the pageant ring in the first place.

A UKC employee whose breed is Scotties, and who shows extensively in AKC and does nothing else with them, told us stoopid dirt farmers all about how UKC had improved coonhounds with their dog shows.

Thus creating a new class of non-hunting hound owners who covet shiny stuff and are primed to run straight to the ACK for more "prestigious" shiny stuff.

UKC -- and any club that offers "dog show lite" -- is just a feeder system for AKC breed takeovers and the destruction of working breeds.

Sean said...


Your info on the Boykin is a little off. The Boykin lists turkey hunting as one of the uses in its founding mythology. Whether the dog was actually used in the capacity, I do not know, but it sounds reasonable. The claim is that the dog would be used to locate a drove of turkeys and flush them. The hunter would build a blind and call while the turkeys attempted to locate one another to reform the group.

Today, however, it is not used in this capacity as almost all states banned the hunting of Turkeys with dogs when there numbers crashed last century. When the turkeys came back, the tradition of hunting with dogs was dead and the prohibition was never repealed.

I have hunted over a Boykin and was much impressed. I chose to go with field bred springers and field bred english cockers for my upland hunting, however, because the inbreeding of Boykins is already troublesome. I could not find a litter from two working parents that did not have an astronomical cooefficient of inbreeding. The problem is that the Boykin folks attempted to distinguish their dogs from other spaniels primarily in appearance. The Boykin does very much the same thing as a springer, it must simply have a different coat and eye color.

The Boykins are already showing some problems with hip their hips and eyes. I cannot imagine that things will improve with admission to the AKC.

It is too bad, as the dogs that I have seen are solid little hunters of perfect size. If only there were an organization that organized field events that would allow for the cross breeding of all flushers as they do the same thing. It is silly that you can register and compete with a cross bred horse, but not a dog.

Water Over The Dam said...

My grandfather and great-grandfather bred and ran coonhounds, and had the same opinion then of the AKC as the Terrierman does today. I do remember my grandfather saying much the same things about the AKC... in the 1950s! Both are spinning in their graves. Oh and my grandfather did run at least one Plott hound that I remember, and thought he was one of his best coonhounds. Mostly he had redbones and black and tans. I remember the Plott because he was so much more massive than the other dogs.

PBurns said...

Sean --

Turkey hunting with dogs has gone up and down as you note, but as of this writing 29 out of 44 states with fall Turkey seasons allow hunting with dogs. They are: CA, CO, HI, IA, ID, KS, KY, MD, ME, MI, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, VT, VA, WV, WI WY. Utah allows dogs for Spring turkey season. For a map and more information, see >>

As noted, the Boykin has some serious health issues, but Nancy Boykin (yes, a relation of sorts) is raising OFA-certified dogs at Hunters Rest Kennels at >>

The Boykin Spaniel Society is at >> and they say anyone looking to see this dog should make sure they see OFA or or PennHip scores for both parents. As they note: "'My vet okayed the x-ray' is not a valid clearance."

Also, please note that the Boykin Spaniel Society, the largest breed registry for this dog, is NOT affiliated with the AKC and will not affiliate with the AKC, as they believe the lax breeding and ethics standards of the AKC are a detriment to the breed. Guess what? They are right!!


JL said...


Sadly destruction of your studbook would not keep AKC's grubby little mits off your breed if they decide they want it. ASCA refused to turn over their studbook (or to be the AKC parent club) and I think actually stopped issuing certified pedigrees for a while in their efforts to thwart assimilation of the Aussie. AKC accepted handwritten pedigrees in lieu of ASCA ones, as long as the submitter of the pedigree said it was accurate.

Due to that nonsense and differences in DNA parentage testing, there are now dogs that have different pedigrees in AKC and ASCA.

That said, I wish your breed luck.

Heather Houlahan said...

Patrick --
I was about to correct you, that PA did not permit the use of dogs to hunt turkey.

But here it is:

Sec. 2383. Dogs pursuing, injuring or killing big game.

(a) General rule.- Except as provided in subsection (b), it is unlawful for any person to make use of a dog in any manner to hunt for or to take big game or to permit a dog owned, controlled or harbored by that person to pursue, harass, chase, scatter, injure or kill any big game.

(b) Exception.- It shall be lawful to make use of a dog to pursue, chase, scatter and track wild turkeys during the fall wild turkey season.

Cross References. Section 2383 is referred to in section 2386 of this title.

Clearly a very recent amendment, like maybe, this year.

But strange wording. So I couldn't use a dog to point a turkey?

I couldn't use Rosie the domestic turkey herder to gather wild birds? (Not that they'd be likely to go along with that plan.)

But I can use a dog to chase turkey.

Hmmmm ...

Heather Houlahan said...

JL --

Yeah, we know about the AKC's playing cute with the pedigrees in a number of breeds.

Doesn't mean we'd make it easy for them.

We accept handwritten pedigrees -- with a transparent process conducted by people knowledgeable in the breed, and permanently documented and available online.

I stand by my position. Breed clubs that ran dog pageants sowed the seeds of their dogs' destruction by cultivating owners whose hobby is dog shows and priming the breed for a successful takeover.

Contrast to the ABCA. Yes, their breed was the object of a hostile takeover -- but it hasn't been successful for AKC in terms of numbers registered, pageant participation, or certainly public relations.

There was barely a peep about what was done to the Aussie back in '92, and the breeders I knew just about immediately started double-registering as if they had no choice in the matter. Those who showed their dogs in ASCA or ARBA shows started entering AKC shows -- even though they claimed to have opposed "recognition" and to be appalled at the hostile takeover.

The border collie folks put up a louder and longer fight, and still have effective control of their breed's gene pool.

Sure, some dogs get kidnapped from the working population and spirited away into the Barbie Collie gene pool -- but not very damned many.

There's a few breeders who dual-register because they sell excess pups to agility competitors who want access to ACK special olympics and aren't content with open-to-all agility trials. Those breeders are not well-regarded in the border collie world.

And the practice of de-registering a pageant champion is a good one that makes it clear that the ABCA's priorities are on function.

ASCA or JRTCA wouldn't/couldn't do that because they hold their own pageants. It would be hypocritical.

Sean said...


I looked at Nancy Boykin's dogs and have met Ms. Boykin. The dog that I hunted with came from her kennel and I have stayed at Cloud's Rest. It is a beautiful B&B. I went to Sewanee in Tennessee very close to there.

While the Boykins were good at keeping out of the AKC for a while, they simply started with too few dogs. AKC or no, inbreeding is going to get you eventually.

It is very encouraging to hear that dogs are used for Turkeys in so many places. I regularly hunt turkeys (the lonely way) and would love to take my spaniels out for a try. The biggest thing they get to chase is a pheasant.

Thanks for the info.

Sean said...


I will offer one more hopeful assessment. Unlike the pointing, retrieving, and versatile working dog groups which have their best work done outside of the AKC, the spaniels field competitions are AKC events. These events very closely approximate real hunting. The Springers and Eng. Cockers have not been destroyed by the Show crowd because the field and bench lines have completely separated.

Provided the boykins got he way of the field bred dogs, admission to the AKC could mean increased selection based upon actual bird finding, nose, and steadiness abilities. This would be good for the Boykin. The path to the AKC is not completely hopeless.

Jay Samples said...

Most field bred ESS people I know aren't happy about the way the breed has actually split, but hasn't been allowed to have it's own breed group so that we can have dual champions.

I know people who would love to be able to show the wonderful conformation of their field dogs they are earning field trail championships with.