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Four Factors Portend the Future of the Sport – Pt. 3

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000 – June, 2018

BY DR. CARMEN BATTAGLIA – AKC JUDGE, MEMBER OF AKC BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Background

By the early 1950s breeding and showing dogs had become a popular American pastime and owning an AKC registered purebred dog was the gold standard. As America became more industrialized with the technological marvels of the smart telephone, microwave, TV and personal computer, family life also changed. Both parents became wage earners, which affected leisure time and the use of discretionary income. It was during the 1990s that a slow and steady decline in litter and dog registrations began, which ulti- mately affected dog shows, breeders, exhibitors and entries. Most of the changes were small, and for the most part, not noticeable and it was during these years that four factors began to place down- ward pressures on the conformation sport. My first two reports (Parts 1 and 2) focused on understanding the complexities of these factors and how they were affecting the sport. For example, low rates of puppy registrations were affecting the size of breed populations and genetic diversity.

This study was a data-driven effort. It focused on understanding some of the more troubling reasons behind these declines–the loss of breeders, exhibitors and show entries. It began with the understanding that dog ownership in America continues to be unquestionably high, but the love for purebred dogs does not seem to carry over to the sport. Only a fraction of today’s owners who breed dogs use a breed standard, belong to a dog club, or have an interest in dog shows. Data for 2017 offer some other clues about these problems. For example, only 40% of all AKC registerable puppies are registered, and in some breeds, new owners are only registering 33% of the pups. It was previously reported in Part 2, that in addition to changes in our society and family life, other factors were producing a trickle-down effect that was impacting the finances of clubs, breeders and exhibitors. When combined, many of the declines in registrations, breeders, exhibitors and entries were found to be associated with a group of breeds called Low Entry Breeds.

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000 – June, 2018

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