Agricultural Societies, Prefixes and the ANKC

Agricultural & Horticultural Society of NSW Medal 1832Agricultural & Horticultural Society of NSW Medal 1832

Moving into the 1900's throughout Australia, compulsory memberships of the various State controlling bodies became entrenched into registration systems. While this solved our problems of unscrupulous dog traders, with no Stud Book in place, there was still a need for structure. This page outlines how Australia's State's bodies called upon our the Agricultural Societies and our Sheepdog Trialling fraternity to mould Australia's modern digital registration systems used by today's pure breed dog fraternity.

Australia's Royal Agricultural Societies

Ploughing Match Victoria 1848Ploughing Match Victoria 1848

In 1840, the Pastoral and Agricultural Society Felix was formed in Victoria along the same lines as the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, with the first Exhibition in 1842[2]. By this time, NSW and other States had also formed or were forming Agricultural and Horticultural Societies. As these were basically farming events with competitions like ploughing in a straight line, dogs and poultry were not initially involved. In Victoria, it took until 1874 for dogs to be included[4].

Royal Easter Show (NSW) 1935Royal Easter Show (NSW) 1935

By 1890,  the National Agricultural Society of Victoria had received 'Royal' assent from Queen Victoria, reflecting our British ties. Hence it became the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. As many rich landowners were involved in these Societies, they did not suffer the financial difficulties that plagued the Kennel Clubs along with general economic depressions. The other States followed, each one holding its own prestigious Show affectionately known as their 'Royals' to this day.

Consequently, because these State capital cities' Agricultural Societies registered stud horses, sheep and cattle, procedures were in place to register dogs.This played an ever-increasing role in Australia's dog world as one by one, the various States required their respective 'Royal' Societies to provide secretarial and financial assistance during hard times.

A Registry of Prefixes

In the early days when registration was voluntary, kennel names were sometimes used as prefixes, sometimes as suffixes, and sometimes the same kennel name was used by more than one person. Additionally, when a dog was purchased from another kennel, it was permissible for the buyer's rather than the breeder's prefix to appear.

Working Sheep DogWorking Sheep Dog

By the late 1890's Sheep Dog Trialling was established in Australia, operating completely separately from the Pure Breed dog world. In 1927, the Victorian Working Sheep Dog Association set up a Registry of Prefixes on a card file system whereby all members were supplied with books of forms for registrations, litter notifications and prefix applications. A list of new prefixes and registrations was printed and circulated in the quarterly newsletter, This continued until around 2008 when computer programs were introduced.

In 1953, this ground-breaking concept of a Register of Prefixes was copied by the various State's Pure Breed Dog Controlling bodies. Rules then were introduced whereby every puppy must carry the prefix of the breeder who whelped it. However, it was not was until 1986 when the ANKC was up and running, that there was a Central Register of Australian Prefixes[3].

The ANKC Today (now called Dogs Australia)

In 1924, the Annual Report of the Kennel Club of Queensland reported they would accept registrations and Challenges from NSW proving the advantage of inter-State reciprocity. The same report records that Queensland delegates attended a Sydney conference of Canine bodies for the purpose of forming an Australian Kennel Council. At that time, each of the States awarded the Championship title independently. To complicate matters, if a dog received a certain number of points in each of three States, it could carry the most prestigious title at that time, 'Australian Champion'.

Jane Exhibiting English Setter c 1958Jane Exhibiting English Setter c 1958

Growing up in Victoria, I vividly remember numerous long interstate trips seeking these elusive points. This often involved travelling along two-laned unsealed highways in the early hours of the morning and late at night along rough roads in those uncomfortable cars of the 1950's!

In 1958, the Australian National Kennel Council was formed 'to act as only as as a co-ordinating and recommendatory body'. At that same Meeting it was agreed to co-ordinate the allocation, among several other things uniform points for Challenge Certificates throughout Australia, making the title 'Australian Champion' consistent.

Irish Setter watching!Irish Setter watching!

By 1975 the RAS of NSW became one of the first organisations of its kind to install an in-house computer to cope with its dog registrations. Most States and Territories became linked to the NSW system except Victoria which had a separate system to which South Australia was linked. In 1978, the ANKC began an Australia-wide registration system which, by 2017 became accessible to all Australian breeders and exhibitors.

In 1982, a Standard Constitution was passed whereby the ANKC would control certain activities[3]. The six States and two Territories each had voting rights. An ANKC Secretary was appointed and an Australia-wide computer system was installed to co-ordinate registrations. At last, 145 years after our first dog show was held, Australia would have a Stud Book or registry compatible with pure breed dog systems world wide!

References and Further Reading

[3] 'An Historical Record of Australian Kennel Controls' published ANKC, Ascot Vale Vic 1988. Changes Rules and Procedures in preparation for a Constitution of he ANKC Page 14

[4] Royal Melbourne Show website: