History of Dogs Victoria

Kelpies in a 'Ute'Kelpies in a 'Ute'

The Victorian Canine Association Inc. (VCA) which now trades as Dogs Victoria, began in 1991. In line with canine associations in  Australia's other independently governed States and Territories the VCA is overseen by a Federal body, the ANKC (Australian National Kennel Council). The VCA is Victoria's elected independent controlling body which is responsible for carrying out Victoria's canine affairs, including all registrations.The ANKC  handles Australia's Stud Book Registrations and Breed Standards and co-ordinates rules relating to national matters.

Victoria is dealt with first not only because it is my home state, but also because, from 1892 when dog showing was becoming formalised, Victoria set the example that the rest of Australia followed. For example, in 1892 Victoria's Poultry and Kennel Society set the first 'Code of Rules' for Guidance at Dog Shows. Later, in  1932 Victoria's Kennel Control Council brought in compulsory membership which  every other state still follows today.

Dog Shows begin in Victoria

1872 National Show Melbourne1872 National Show Melbourne

As previously outlined, the first dog show in Victoria was held by the Council of the Acclimatisation Society in 1864. The second reliably recorded Show was held by the National Agricultural Society of Victoria's Show in 1872. This pre-dated the Royal Melbourne Show.

In 1877 the Victorian Dog and Poultry Society (VP&DS) conducted its first Dog Show with the entries covering the prize money. This became an Annual Event. They were a very forward thinking Society and set up Australia's First 'Code of Rules for the Guidance of Dog Shows' which was taken up by NSW and Queensland. In 1881 the VP&DS declared that all dogs must be registered[3].

Sadly, in-fighting within the VD&DS caused them to re-form as the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club (VP&KC) which still exists today. Meanwhile, around 1886 the Showgrounds in Flemington was given by Crown Grant to Trustees of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV). From 1918 when pure breed dogs were included, the Royal Agricultural Show catalogues contained dog entries, together with their immediate parentage.

VP&KC Committee 1891VP&KC Committee 1891

Victoria's 3 Controlling Bodies

By the late 1920's Victoria had:

      1. The Victorian Kennel Association (VKA),
      2. The Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club (VP&KC)
      3. The Canine Control Council (CCC).
      4. The Australian Ladies Kennel Club (ALKC)

CCC Registration  CertificateCCC Registration Certificate

These were all registering dogs on their own different forms, and holding shows, some recording their show results on their registration certificate like the one attached. In particular, the pedigrees of some dogs registered with the VKA from 1921 onwards are included in the Canine Stud Book of Australia published by the Queensland Kennel Club.

In 1930, Australia was feeling the effects of a world-wide Great Depression with unemployment reaching 33%. To survive this crisis, on March 30 that year, a Meeting was held between the VKA, VP&KC, CCC and the Royal Agricultural Society (RASV) resulting in the RASV offering to supply Administering and Presidential and Secretarial services. This resulted in the VKA, VP&KC and CCC becoming the Kennel Control Council (KCC)  which took over the registration of dogs and other matters relating to canine activities.

In 1932, the fourth body, The Australian Ladies Kennel Club (ALKC) was disaffiliated. The RASV gave the excuse "We do not feel that a Club conducted by women can continue to be associated with any body whose Constitution prevents women from holding office". With an  all-male committee, the Kennel Control Council (KCC) successfully carried Victoria through the Great Depression, World War Two and beyond[1] 

The Kennel Control Council (KCC)

During 1932, the membership of the KCC grew to 894 people registering 8,402 individual dogs. The KCC also published the most recently registered pedigrees of dogs, along with details of transfer of ownership and litters born. Consequently, although the KCC Gazette was not a separate Stud book per se, from 1933 dogs' parentage was reliably recorded.

In November 1935, it was resolved that records, funds and property of the KCC be handed over to the RASV and that the RAS appointed the Committee of the KCC. Consequently, it was resolved that the Committee of the Kennel Control Council was conducted under the auspices of the Royal Agricultural Society.

Royal Melbourne Showgrounds Dog Judging area 1960Royal Melbourne Showgrounds Dog Judging area 1960

By the end of the 1940s the KCC had relinquished all ties with the VP&KC and the KCC and the poultry enthusiasts went their own separate ways. This included the KCC relinquishing all financial rights to a valuable centrally placed Melbourne property. Incredibly, the entire proceeds of the sale went to the poultry fraternity! Today the poultry fraternity still operates separately from the dog section. Meanwhile, the old VP&KC has remained in the dog world as a name only, remaining as a VCA affiliate which just runs a dog show.

Over the next 60 years, the KCC increasingly became a dictatorship, disqualifying any member who attempted to form an opposition registration body. Even today, the rules also still compulsorily require membership in order to compete. This also gave the KCC absolute power over our Victorian dog world. With members no longer able to choose their representatives on the controlling body. With no elections or alternative body, the Management Committee of the KCC took complete control of our pure breed dog registrations, selection of judges  and other matters relating to canine activities. Financially, this carried Victoria through the Great Depression, World War Two and beyond [1]. However, with no checks and balances it created many problems that caused grief to many people who were unable to access natural justice.

Split from the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV)

1933 Advertisement to join the KCC1933 Advertisement to join the KCC

In line with the original policy of the RASV at that time, only male persons were eligible to stand for election to the Committee of the Kennel Control Council. In other words, no women were eligible to take part in Committee matters (see advertisement). Sexual harassment and bullying was commonplace. Additionally Women were not given the same privileges as men with dog judging appointments and so on. With no other means of appeal, I challenged the structure of the Kennel Control Council. I took them to the Equal Opportunity Board which generated much publicity, including a National TV appearance, 18 articles in the print media and even the drawing by the respected cartoonist in 'the Age' newspaper, cartoonist, 'Leunig'!

Cartoon by LeunigCartoon by Leunig

The result was that a motion to Incorporate was moved at the KCC's 1991 Annual General Meeting. An estimated 600 odd members attended, travelling in bus loads from all corners of the State to support the motion. It was overwhelmingly passed. On July 24, 1991 a new Constitution was approved. Consequently, the KCC became the Victorian Canine Association Inc. which now trades as Dogs Victoria.

Dogs Victoria Finds a Home

Meanwhile, in 1982, the colourful character, Eddy Van Eck acting on behalf of the KCC,  found, acquired and supervised the conveyancing required for the acquisition of KCC Park. Today, Dogs Victoria still holds the freehold of these 72 acres of land just 52 km from Melbourne [2]. Named KCC Park, it has been purpose-built to conduct dog activities. It also houses an administration block, the largest dedicated specialist dog library in the Southern Hemisphere and an extensive Canine Museum.

The Dogs Victoria Library

Dogs Victoria LibraryDogs Victoria Library

The Dogs Victoria Library contains Show catalogues dating back to 1890, as well as folders of hand-written pedigrees dating back to the 1920's. Additionally, our continuous Royal Melbourne Show catalogue collection from 1918 lists the parents and date of birth of every exhibit. This information fills most of the gaps in the history of Victoria's pure breed dogs. Additionally some individual breed enthusiasts have collated their own breed's pedigree information on private computer programmes.

Only when all this breed information is added to the pedigree programme already on the ANKC computer, will we have information equivalent to that contained in other countries' Stud Books.

References and Further Reading

[1] F A Longmore 'Dogs on the Bench and in the Field' Published by The Kennel Control Council of Vic (Annual 1933) Page 3

[2] Ken Rowles 'National Dog Newspaper' (Published Windsor NSW) Special Supplement July 1978

[3] 'Tyzack's Annual' Compiled by T. W.Tyzack and C.S.Turner; Published 1912 by Bellamine Bros. Printers, 66-70 Flinders Lane Melbourne. 'The Book of Chronicles' Page 129