Kennel Clubs and Stud Books

Irish SetterIrish Setter

Today, along with the definition of a pure breed dog, for this to be global there must be arrangements for world-wide recognition. Pure breed dogs firstly must have a formal pedigree issued by a Kennel Club and secondly must have their breed's physical description and function classified within their Breed Standard.

Today's Kennel Clubs with Reciprocal Stud Book Arrangements

Saint Bernards 1877Saint Bernards 1877

On 4th April 1873, the Kennel Club (UK) the first Kennel Club as we know it today, was founded. The American Kennel Club (AKC) followed one year later in 1874. with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) next by 1880.

Then, in 1954, the FCI the Federation Cynologique Internationale began operations from the tiny Belgium town of Thuin. In Australia the administration involved with keeping the Stud Registry and the Rules and Regulations of Dog Shows used to be controlled by various Kennel Clubs in each of the States. But in 1958 the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) was born.

Great Dane c 1907Great Dane c 1907

The FCI deserves a special mention here. It was founded in the tiny town of Thuin because Saint Roch, the patron Saint of Thuin was also the protector of animals and was frequently portrayed with his dog. So today Thuin is proclaimed 'the Canine Capital of the World'[1], recognizing Kennel Clubs in 86 other countries, including many in Europe and South America. Each of these 86 FCI recognized Kennel Clubs keep their own Stud Books or registries for their own countries.

History of the English Stud Books

Hunter with Pack of HarriersHunter with Pack of Harriers

The concept of publishing a 'General Stud Book' was first proposed in England in 1791 'to correct the evil of false and inaccurate pedigrees'. The idea was to record the ancestry of domestic animals. Although some private breeders had kept 'Lists', these were rarely passed on. Hence the obvious need for a published Stud Book that was a 'dictionary of facts'. Over the next 100 years, 14 Volumes of a General Stud Book were produced containing horses, cattle and hounds.

In addition to the General Stud Book, when horse racing became a national pastime, the Jockey Club started their own Stud Book. This became famous and gradually the rules were adjusted so eventually the only horses which could be raced had to have their parentage recorded in their Stud Book.

Hungarian Vizsla wins CruftsHungarian Vizsla wins Crufts

Next came a Herd book for short-horn cattle. Unlike the racehorses, their Stud Book was based on show catalogues and sales lists. It then became essential to have the credential of this pedigree established by a 'public record' if foreigners wanted to buy a genuine short-horn.

From 1873, the English Kennel Club Stud Books began. Only dogs that were exhibited at Shows had their pedigrees recorded in these Stud Books. This increased the authenticity of the English pure breed dogs, which then attracted higher prices, particularly at that time, from the Americans[2].

The Stud Books (English)

First English Stud Book First English Stud Book

The year after 'The Kennel Club (UK)' came into existence, the first in a series of 'Stud Books' was published by 'The Field' a well-known livestock magazine publisher of that time. This Stud Book is dated from 1859 to 1874.  When any breeding dog or bitch was entered in a Show, it was given a number and had its pedigree recorded. If the dog or bitch had a reliable pedigree, that was also recorded, some dating back many generations. Some of these were in the form of a table and others are just a list.

First English Stud BookFirst English Stud Book

These Kennel Club (UK) 'Stud Books' have been published every year after that to this day, even through the two World Wars! Dogs recorded in these English Stud Books are recognized by the American Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, the ANKC and the 84 countries affiliated with the FCI. This recognition is reciprocal. So, between the world's Stud Books, many of today's purebred dogs have a background with recorded pedigrees dating back over a century and a half!

The First English Stud Book

The following 40 breeds appeared in this historic Stud Book:

The First Dog Shows in England

Division 1 PointerDivision 1 Pointer

It is generally accepted that the first recognized dog show was held at Newcastle in England in 1859. Although it was for Setters (English) and Pointers only, the dogs exhibited were given numbers which were the very first entries in the English Stud Book. Later in 1859 Birmingham also held a show for sporting dogs only. This included not only Setters (English) and Pointers but also Retrievers, Clumber Spaniels and Cocker Spaniels.

Division 2 MastiffDivision 2 Mastiff

In 1860 Birmingham held their second show. This was historic because the show was split into two divisions:

  1. Sporting: Hounds, Setters, Spaniels and Retrievers
  2. Non-Sporting (dogs not used in field sports):Mastiffs, Newfoundlands, Dalmatians, Bulldogs, Black and Tan Terriers, White and other English Terriers, Scotch Terriers, Italian Greyhounds, Blenheim Spaniels, King Charles Spaniels, and Toy Terriers (under 5 pounds).

The First Dog Shows in America

In America, the first dog shows were held in Hempstead on Long Island and in Chicago in 1874 with references in the first Westminster catalogue to dogs having won at one or two of at least 10 different shows held in 1875 and 1876. At the first Westminster Show held in 1877 there were 1,191 entries but that did not represent the actual number of dogs as more than 300 dogs were duplicated (that is had 2 catalogue numbers) and some bitches had puppies each with a separate number! Of these, like England, 900 (around half) were Pointers, Setters and Spaniels with some Foxhounds, Beagles, Dachshunds and Fox Terriers[3].

References and Further Reading

[1] Marie Luna Duran, FCI Public Relations Officer, FCI Online Magazine, Issue 427, June 2011

[2] The Kennel Gazette Vol 1 April - December 1880 Pages 338 - 340 Published by the Kennel Club, 29a Pall Mall, London S.W.

[3] Bo Bengston 'Westminster in the Past' Published by DN Magazine Oyster Bay Publications LLC Oyster Bay NY 11771 USA, Vol 3 No 5 Page 112.