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 that invented pedigrees, 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 1848Ploughing Match 1848

In 1840 in Victoria, the Pastoral and Agricultural Society Felix was along the same lines as the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland, with the first Exhibition in 1842[1]. 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[2].

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

In 1890, reflecting our British ties, the National Agricultural Society of Victoria received 'Royal' assent from Queen Victoria, reflecting our British ties. Hence Victoria 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 'Royal' 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 the various States formed auspices with their respective 'Royal' Societies to provide secretarial and financial assistance during the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War Two. When this relationship with the States was dissolved, one by one each State's controlling body became a monopoly with compulsory membership.

A Registry of Prefixes

Before the State controlling bodies became a monopoly, registration was voluntary. Then, sometimes, 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, the buyer's rather than the breeder's prefix could appear.

Working Sheep DogWorking Sheep Dog

By the late 1890's Sheep Dog Trialling was established in Australia. It operated 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 filing 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 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 Emerges

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. Before the ANKC was formed, all the States had differing methods of awarding points towards their Championship title. To complicate matters, if you received a certain number of points in each of three States, your dog could become an 'Australian Champion'.

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

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

At last, in 1958, the Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC) 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.

Meanwhile, in 1975 the RAS of NSW had become one of the first organisations of its kind to install an in-house computer to cope with its dog registrations. in 1976, Victoria had its own separate system. These digital data bases worked so well that all States and Territories were eventually linked. In 1978 the ANKC began a national digital Registration system which by 2017 became accessible to all Australian breeders and exhibitors. In other words at last we have an Australian Stud Book!

By 1982, a Standard Constitution was agreed to whereby the ANKC could take control of certain activities with voting rights for our six States and two Territories. We were to appoint an independent Secretary. The aim was to have an Australia-wide computer system.

The ANKC Today (now called 'Dogs Australia')

Irish Setter watching!Irish Setter watching!

Today the ANKC holds at least one face-to-face Meeting annually with other Meetings by digital means where necessary. The eight ANKC member bodies represent each Australian State and Territory. At present, voting on the various issues is as follows: NSW, Victoria and Queensland, having the highest number of members are allowed two votes each while the remaining three States and two Territories are only allowed one vote each.

Our ANKC is recognised by the Kennel Club (UK) the American Kennel Club, the New Zealand Kennel Club and is accepted by the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) as an Associate member. Internationally, this facilitates

  • Recognition of qualifications of both Australian and Overseas judges,
  • Export Pedigrees and other relative information that may be exchanged nationally.
  • Changes to Breed Standards

Domestically it facilitates

  • A central computer system controlling our Stud Register,
  • Standard Rules for the award of Challenge Certificates
  • Standard Rules for the various disciplines like Obedience, Field & Retrieving Trials etc
  • Unified Breed Groups
  • Rules for the recognition of new Australian breeds[2].

References and Further Reading

[1] Royal Agricultural Society of Vic, '100 Years of Shows, the Story of the Melbourne Show 1872 - 1972' published by Royal Agricultural Society of Vic Ascot Vale Page 2

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

[4] Royal Melbourne Show website: