AKC vs ACA- Which Organisation is Top Dog?


Buying a purebred dog is important to so many people around the world. Purebred dogs are desired because their character, size, and well-being are considered to be more predictable than those of mutts. 

This is because parents of the same breed are carefully chosen for their desired qualities which are assumed to be passed onto their puppies. 

ACA and AKC are two US organisations at the top of the dog registry game, both allowing dog owners to record their pup’s pedigree status. 

Although they aren’t the only dog registries in the world, these two are the most prolific in America. 

But, these organisations have similarities and differences which people need to be aware of before choosing to register their pooch. 

Both face issues with puppy farming and come with their own pros and cons which need to be addressed before you make any decisions about where to register your dog. 

What Is The AKC?

American Kennel Club (AKC) is a registry for purebred dog pedigrees in the US. Founded in 1884, they are the largest and oldest non-profit registry in the world, recognising around 190 breeds. 

The AKC organises over 22,000 shows and events for purebred dogs like the National Dog Show every year and is based primarily in New York. 

It also funds significant research into genetic and health research programmes for diseases like cancer and epilepsy. 

What Is The ACA?

In contrast, the ACA or American Canine Association has its headquarters in Clermont, Florida, and has been running since 1984. 

Although the ACA does host events for purebred dogs, its main focus lies in veterinary health and genetics tracking. 

It also offers a worldwide ‘Lost and Found Pet Tag’ service at no extra charges. 

So, if you’re concerned about keeping track of your dog’s ongoing genetics, you may be more interested in the ACA’s work. 

How Are These Two Organisations The Same? 

Firstly, these two organisations are similar because they both have aims of upholding pedigree integrity and are concerned with the genetics of purebred dogs. 

By registering to either, many dog owners and breeders believe that their dog will automatically be considered a higher standard than unregistered dogs. 

Secondly, both encounter similar difficulties in the sense that genetic testing does not guarantee perfection. 

Even purebred pups can have serious health problems! For instance, although pugs look adorable, they have severe breathing problems and are susceptible to various eye conditions.

How Are These Two Organisations Different? 

Despite their similar aims, they do have some differences. The AKC is the oldest dog registry in the US. 

This makes it a more reputable and widely trusted register than the ACA. This is also because AKC has stricter regulations and higher standards that owners must follow to prove that their dog is of pedigree status.

This entails proving the purebred heritage from both parents who must be of the same breed. 

This sometimes requires DNA testing on some dogs before classifying them as purebred. In this sense, the ACA has lower standards of what classes as pedigree which can lead to mixed breeds being registered as purebred. 

The price of registration also varies. 

Whilst registering through the ACA is only $19, registration through the AKC has a $37.99 fee. Included in this fee, the ACA also gives free collar tags which includes a lost and found service free of charge. 

This means that if someone finds a lost ACA pup their owners can be easily traced and contacted. 

Finally, the AKC focuses on providing resources for owners on how to care for their pups and how to find ethical breeders. 

Whereas, the ACA has little breed standard information available. 

Do The Two Organisations Use The Same Health Checks For Breeding Dogs?

Another difference is that both organisations use different health checks for breeding dogs. 

The AKC requires health testing originating with a “parent club” before they suggest breeding. 

These are nationwide AKC-recognized clubs devoted to a particular breed. 

These health checks vary depending on which dog you are breeding or buying and their genetic susceptibility to certain issues. 

For example, Bloodhounds require hip evaluations, elbow evaluations, and cardiac exams. 

In contrast, Boxers require 8 genetic tests. 

These include those previously listed as well as thyroid evaluations and degenerative myelopathy DNA tests. 

This helps to reduce the likelihood of genetic issues being passed on to pups. 

Although the ACA is more relaxed on their health checks before breeding, they do track genetic health throughout your dog’s lifetime. 

They do this through reporting positive and negative genetic health issues back to the breeder of the dogs. 

This helps to keep track of any ongoing issues which may be occurring with specific dogs and widens our knowledge of many breeds. 

To register, the ACA requires you to attach a three-generation certificate of pedigree along with your pet’s existing registration. 

If you don’t have any of these, you can’t register with the ACA. The cost to obtain a three-generation pedigree test for your dog, you have to pay $15. 

But, the AKC will not accept the registration of a litter if both parents aren’t registered with the AKC whereas the ACA does. 

Is It Better To Buy An AKC Or ACA Registered Dog? 

Generally, the AKC is a more widely recognised and trusted registry. 

So, it is better to buy an AKC registered dog rather than an ACA registered dog. 

This is because it has more severe standards for breeders which seek to uphold the integrity of each breed. 

Because of this, your dog is deemed less likely to have health problems or temperament issues. 

In terms of which organisation is morally superior to buy from, neither fully guarantee that your dog has been bred by an ethical breeder. 

Unfortunately, although both require yearly inspections of breeding facilities and veterinarians attending breeding kennels, both organisations encounter issues with puppy mills.

Puppy farming is a huge global problem. 

Conditions in farms are awful and tens of thousands of dogs are killed in mills each year. 

So, if possible, you should always buy from a reputable breeder. 

Even better, you could purchase a dog through a rescue service rather than a pet shop. 

Can You Breed An AKC Dog With An ACA Dog?

Technically, you can breed an AKC dog with an ACA dog. 

But, this affects how the pups can be registered in the future. 

The AKC will not register any dog unless both of its parents were registered with the AKC as it will not be considered purebred. 

So, if you breed an AKC and an ACA dog, then the AKC will not allow it to be registered.

On the other hand, the ACA allows you to dual register your dogs with the AKC. 

So, breeding an AKC dog with an ACA dog will only allow you to register it with the ACA. 

This is something you need to think about before breeding dogs from two different registries. 

Mixing registrations may affect how much puppies can be sold (AKC dogs are more sought-after for those wanting pedigrees) as well as their genetic makeup. 

Which Breeds Of Dogs Do The AKC Recognise That The ACA Doesn’t?

The AKC now recognises 195 dog breeds. 

Yet, this represents just over half of the 350 dog breeds recognised around the world. 

For instance, the AKC acknowledges Boerboel and Pumi breeds whereas the ACA does not. 

This has much more to do with people than it does with dogs. 

The AKC can only recognise dogs that have an official US ‘parent club’ that come forward as stewards of a specific breed. 

So, there are many other types of dogs in existence that aren’t recognised. 

There also has to be at least 150 of each rare dog in the US for them to become a recognised AKC breed. 

Otherwise, a national parent club cannot be formed. 

Likewise, the dogs must have a history of existing within the US that goes back at least 40 years. 

Clearly, the AKC have strict criteria that breeders and parent clubs must follow!

Which Breeds Of Dogs Do The ACA Recognise That The AKC Doesn’t?

The ACA recognises many more dog breeds than the AKC. 

For instance, it recognises Fiest, Mundi, Dingo, Heeler, and Klee Kai breeds. 

This causes many to believe that the ACA has lower standards than the AKC. 

So, the ACA has come under criticism for letting ‘any’ dogs be registered no matter what they are. 

Whether you’re buying a new puppy or breeding your own litter, it’s important to know the realities of AKC and ACA before you make any registering decisions. Speak to a vet and hear their professional opinion too. 

Certain breeds are highly likely to develop genetic issues whether purebred or not. 

So, it’s best to know these risks before buying any dog. Let us know in the comments your experiences with dog registries and which one you’ve found to be the best!