Wednesday, February 17, 2010

AKC Sells Data on Top 10 Breeds

For $100, the AKC provided me with registration numbers for the Top Ten Dogs in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  These are the years for which they have hidden registration numbers and published only rank orders.  I will send a check.

Here are AKC dog registrations from 2007 to 2009 for the Top 10 breeds:

TOP 10 AKC BREEDS 2007-2009

TOTAL % of   LAB

Labrador Retriever89,599100,736114,113
German Shepherd40,93840,90943,376
Yorkshire Terrier37,77841,91447,850
Golden Retriever30,73534,48539,659
Shih Tsu17,31420,21924,951

Total Registrations Top 10 Breeds335,446372,723421,645
Lost Registrations from 200786,19948,922

Breeds are rank-ordered by 2009 registrations.  Note that in 2009, there are more than twice as many Labradors as German Shepherds (90,000 versus 41,000).  So much for the AKC's musing that German Shepherds may overtake Labs as the Number One Dog.

The far right column shows the percentage of Lab registrations are represented by each of the other 9 Top Ten breeds.  Six of the 10 breeds have one-third or fewer registrations, compared to Labrador retrievers.

I love numbers and statistics, but they do not give joy to everyone.  A picture is often worth a thousand words.

TOP 10 AKC BREEDS 2007 TO 2009

More than 300,000 Labs were registered in 2007 to 2009.  Less than one-third as many beagles, boxers, bulldogs, dachshunds, poodles, and shih tsus were registered in the same period.  Anyone can see that the popularity of Labs is almost "off the chart".  Evidently, the disproportionate popularity of Labs is embarrassing to the AKC.

The other reason the AKC did not want to reveal recent registration data is that the organization is going downhill, fast.  AKC finances depend heavily on registrations, which generate at least $20/ dog.  Annual registrations of  400,000 dogs, generate $8 million in revenue.  The registration data clearly indicate that every year the AKC is losing purebred dog registrations.

Compared to 2007, which was not a banner year, the AKC had 89,000 fewer Top Ten registrations in 2009.  That loss of registrations translates into at least $1.75 million in lost revenue.  The trend is ominous.  In 2003, Lab registrations numbered 143,000., compared to 90,000 in 2009.  The AKC's decline is happening in a context of more and more purebred dogs being adopted as family pets.

If I were CEO of the AKC, I would be alarmed and contemplate what changes need to be made in my organization.  Let me offer a few suggestions:
  • AKC can improve the health of purebred dogs by incorporating new genetic information in their criteria for participation in AKC activities.
  • Intact animals, which participate in AKC conformation shows, field trials, rallies, obedience, and agility events should have clearances as non-carriers of all serious genetic disorders common in the breed.
  • Conformation shows should be restructured to be more about dogs' soundness and breed type and less about the handler and showmanship.  However entertaining spectators find extreme coiffure and runway behavior, the major focus of shows should be to select sound, typey parents for the next generations of the breed.
  • AKC should sever its relationships with commercial sponsors, especially pet-food manufacturers. A less splashy show, not sponsored by Eukanuba, would be better received by many who care about dogs' health.  
  • AKC should cease any partnerships with pet-food and drug companies to "educate" veterinarians about pet care and diets.  Veterinary education is perverted by pet-food and drug companies anyway, and the AKC should keep it's still-good name out of a corrupt morass.
  • AKC should sponsor popular educational programs for pet owners about the evolution of dogs, their identity as a subspecies of wolves, and the implications of these scientifically established facts for dog feeding and care.  A television series on "Know Your Dog" could save the health and lives of millions of pets.
  • AKC can work with breed organizations that have adopted extreme conformation standards that impair the breed's health or alter their natural appearance by mutilation.  Surgical alteration and unhealthy standards have no place in an organization with a mission to improve the welfare of purebred dogs and their owners.

As I think of more ways to help the AKC meet its goals and live up to its mission, I will post them.  Meanwhile, let's hope they get more honest by publishing breed registration statistics for 2010.

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