Page 1
Part II
A Gathering Storm Bring New Measures
By
Dr. Carmen Battaglia
This is a continuation of last month’s discussion of the gathering
storm and how it has already begun to impact the world of purebred
dogs. The winds that are fueling this storm were identified as the
undefined labels that are used by the animal rights movement. As stated
in Part I, their efforts have gained wide-spread acceptance among the
breeders which in turn have impacted AKC registrations and the gene
pools of thirty-five breeds some of which may soon be facing
extinction. Related to all of this is the fact that hardly anyone is
noticing how effective and dangerous this storm has become. As
discussed in Part I, there are many examples that show how, through the
use of undefined labels, the animal rights movement has negatively
impacted breeding and registrations.
Sociologists who study social change and the use of labels to impact
events call this discipline the “labeling process”. When
epidemiologists study their causes they look for three common
denominators. First, whether the labels are defined. Secondly, their
underlying purpose or intended target. Thirdly, the strategy that has
been linked to the label which later can be grown into something large
with varying consequences.
1

Page 2
In the dog world the use of undefined labels (responsible breeder,
dangerous dogs, viscous dog, puppy mill etc.)has already been
demonstrated to be an effective way to negatively impact breeding,
ownership and the sport (see Part I). Many believe that the animal
rights movement has been successful only because most breeders are so
busy with their jobs, families and other things that they fail to
notice the implications hidden within the labels they accept and use.
What lingers in the background are their intentions and a general lack
of awareness. This problem is not limited to just undefined labels; it
extends into many other areas. For example, it was not so long ago that
three important announcements were widely published in the dog world.
The first occurred in 2003, when the AKC reported the introduction of a
new Superplex G panel of 13 DNA markers that were designed to improve
the quality of parentage testing. This announcement changed the AKC
compliance audit program as well as the voluntary testing of puppies
and adults. At the same time, the AKC announced that a fourteenth
marker had been added to identify the gender of each individual tested.
The third announcement came when the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF)
reported that 25 DNA health tests were available for the screening of
breeding stock. Today, no one would question the importance of these
announcements even though most breeders are still unaware of their
existence.
Scenarios like these have led the animal rights activists to believe
that the dog world is asleep at the wheel. They believe we are
uninformed and therefore vulnerable. This of course works to their
advantage. Consider how they effectively were able to link their ideas
to the undefined labels called: “puppy mill”, “vicious dogs”,
“dangerous dogs”, “over-population” and “responsible dog owners”. Each
2

Page 3
label played an important role in reducing registrations, zoning,
breeding rights, ownership and the number of breeders. Now after more
than ten years these same labels continue to impact the sport even
though they are all still undefined. This has only encouraged the
animal rights groups to move forward with their expectations for the
label called “the responsible breeder". It is even more dangerous than
the earlier labels mentioned because this label has more closely been
linked to the breeders, their pups and the use of clinical protocols
such as x-rays, health certifications and DNA testing. These protocols
will become the mechanisms by which they intend to measure breeders.
The animal rights movement believes that all breeders should screen and
test all of their breeding stock as the first step to producing the
pups they will sell. While most breeders’ support being labeled a
“responsible breeder” they fail to see that they will be expected to
screen and test all their pups. Since the AKC has already collected
DNA on more than 350,000 dogs, one would think that the breeders would
have learned more about how the parentage tests works and how the DNA
health tests can be used in their breeding program. The truth is that
very few breeders can explain the DNA parentage test or how it is being
used to preserve the integrity of the stud book. One would also expect
that because of the widespread support for DNA health testing more
breeders would be using the 35 plus DNA health tests that are already
available for screening diseases. The record shows just the opposite.
Most breeders do not use the DNA parentage test unless it is required
and only a small percentage are using the DNA health tests, x-rays or
other clinical protocols as a way to eliminate or manage the carriers
in their pedigrees. The under-utilization of these technologies in an
environment of widespread acceptance confirms that indeed the dog world
3

Page 4
“may be asleep at the wheel”. This encourages the animal rights groups
with their strategy to change breeding practices.
To better understand the dynamics of this gathering storm, one must
ask why there is such widespread support for DNA testing and the other
health protocols given the small fraction of the breeder’s who actually
use them. This has yet to be explained but it seems fair to say that
the animal rights movement will continue to ask that all breeding stock
be screened and tested. In time they will demand health and parentage
testing of every litter. As their agenda begins to unfold nothing short
of a massive educational program will be able to slow down the effect
it will have on the dog world. Notice in Figure 1 how AKC
registrations have slowly been reduced. In 2004, of those who purchased
an AKC registerable pup only 44% registered them. Experts agree that
the reason for this decline is not simple; but the facts show that this
has been a nine-year steady decline and it expected to continue.
4

Page 5
FIGURE 1
Individual Dog Registrations
1,333,599 1,309,353
1,220,982
1,119,646
1,175,342
1,080,758
957,816
925,668
0
200000
400000
600000
800000
1000000
1200000
1400000
1600000
N
um
be
r of R
eg
is
tra
tions
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
To understand this dilemma and the use of undefined labels we need to
examine events that had already emerged by the early 1990’s when the
high volume breeders were thought to be out of control. In response,
DNA technology was offered as the savior of the AKC studbook. As a new
technology it was considered the tool by which those suspected of
cheating would be caught and punished. It was also during this period
that the animal rights movement linked their ideas to several undefined
labels which the breeders had made popular. Their strategy has worked
only because undefined labels can mean many things to different
individuals. Most importantly, they make everyone feel good about their
5

Page 6
own beliefs. Over the past 15 years the breeders and the pubic have
been conditioned to accept this approach.
What was not anticipated was how the animal rights movement would
create two problems for the “responsible breeder” to solve. The first
problem they called “pet overpopulation” which they linked to limited
registrations (Figure 2). At the same time they also encouraged the use
of spay/neuter contracts. Both ideas were immediately popular and both
produced a negative impact on purebred dogs, particularly the gene
pools of the 35 breeds seen in Table 1.
FIGURE 2 LIMITED REGISTRATIONS
32,216
39,276
46,445
50,058
52,833
70,975
79,071
77,721
90,724
0
10,000
20,000
30,000
40,000
50,000
60,000
70,000
80,000
90,000
100,000
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
Year
Projected
based on
A brief analysis of the nine year downward trend in registrations
(Figure 1) shows that it is inversely related to the steady increase in
limited registrations. Breeders are selling pups on limited
6

Page 7
registrations and/or spay/neuter contracts in the belief they will help
to control the problem that we know does not exist (Strand). Patience
on the part of the animal rights movement coupled with the
encouragement from the breeders and their clubs has more then tripled
the number of dogs removed from the stud book since 1995.
The subtle strategy underlying the use of these undefined labels should
not be under-estimated because the important question has been
overlooked. Why would breeders want to remove their pups from the gene
pool of their own breeds if nothing was wrong with them? What can
not be ignored is the fact that the animal rights movement and its
critic groups have leveraged their position among the breeders. Most
breeders have not noticed how testing has been linked to a way to
measure breedings and the quality of the pups produced. The second
problem for the "responsible breeder" to solve involves the use of DNA
technology, x-rays and other clinical protocols. The goal is to require
widespread testing of those saved for breeding. Theoretically this
would produce the better individuals. The problem with their logic is
that the pups saved may not be the better specimens of their breed
based on the breed standard. Saving those who have been tested for
health and parentage is not the same as saving those who are the better
specimens based on their conformation and temperament. Shifting
emphasis to one area is not in the best interests of purebred dogs.
While most breeders seem to agree with the concept of screening and
testing, many do not realize how it can be used to obligate them to
sell more pups on limited registrations and spay/neuter contracts as
proof of their being a responsible breeder. The scenarios they are
offering lead to the pathway by which breeders and their pups can be
quantitatively measured. The good news for the animal rights movement
7

Page 8
is that the number of pups sold on limited registrations and
spay/neuter contracts can be compared with previous litters. Thus, a
determination can be made as to whether the breeder is being
responsible or not. This is an important objective to appreciate
because it shows how the breeders and their litters will be measured by
the numbers. The logic for making the breeder and their pups the next
victim and target has been carefully crafted. Unfortunately, it
embraces a strategy that already has widespread support.
Table 2. Declining Gene Pools
Registrations (1997-2001)
2001
Rank
Breeds
2001
2000
1999
1998
1997
112
Salukis
84
79
80
63
67
113
Belgian Tervuren
84
84
78
89
106
114
Belgian Sheepdogs
83
80
80
85
101
115
Retrievers (Flat-Coated)
82
100
75
98
84
116
Petits Bassets Griffons Vendeen
75
83
72
100
92
117
Bedlington Terriers
66
54
57
56
57
118
Spaniels (Welsh Springer)
61
63
58
57
60
119
Wirehaired pointing Griffons
55
66
44
37
41
120
Briards
51
61
57
60
58
121
Spaniels (American Water)
49
45
57
62
68
122
Lowchen
49
44
37
24
35
123
Spaniels (Clumber)
47
60
43
51
46
124
Black and Tan Coonhounds
47
47
48
55
57
125
Anatolian Shepherds
42
48
49
41
45
126
Pulik
40
36
48
36
46
127
Polish Lowland Sheepdogs
40
38
28
0
0
128
Miniature Bull Terriers
40
42
49
42
44
8

Page 9
129
Kuvaszok
35
48
49
59
84
130
Spinone Italiano
33
6
131
Finnish Spitz
30
27
30
27
39
132
Scottish Deerhounds
28
28
27
27
33
133
Retrievers (Curly-Coated)
27
25
25
31
28
134
Komondorok
26
23
32
31
40
135
Canaan Dogs
26
25
20
18
11
136
Spaniels (Field)
25
28
28
36
29
137
Spaniels ( Irish Water)
25
23
33
22
21
138
Greyhounds
25
30
24
32
29
139
Sealyham Terriers
24
18
21
17
28
140
Skye Terriers
24
23
25
38
31
141
Pharaoh Hounds
23
19
16
20
19
142
German Pinschers
23
143
Spaniels (Sussex)
20
16
21
22
16
144
Dandie Dinmont Terriers
20
33
38
30
33
145
Ibizan Hounds
18
12
13
17
19
146
Plotts
18
35
30
8
0
147
Foxhounds (American)
18
14
14
15
13
148
Harriers
11
6
6
10
11
149
Otterhounds
8
7
2
4
9
150
Foxhounds (English)
7
2001
8
2000
5
1999
7
1998
6
1997
Total for all 150 breeds
461,863
506,72
7
527,02
3
555,964 564,165
Who would have suspected that in just nine years, the blind acceptance
of undefined labels would have significantly reduced the size of the
9

Page 10
AKC stud book and the gene pools of 35 breeds (Table 2). There are no
accurate figures on the number of pups sold on limited registrations
that were not registered but some estimates suggest the number may be
at least another 100,000 per year. When the effects of both are taken
as a whole, no one can question their impact on declining
registrations, gene pool size and genetic diversity. It has been
astonishing. The unintended consequences of these efforts have no
equal.
The impact of this storm can be viewed in yet another way. In 1981, AKC
derived 96% of its income from dog registrations. By 2003, income from
registrations had fallen to 61%. These declines represent a significant
loss in revenues and future earnings. What makes this all so important
is that AKC has been forced to find alternative sources of income to
support its 18,000 dog events, its one-of-kind library, health research
grants, veterinary scholarships etc. During the past decade twenty-
three for-profit registries have emerged to compete with the AKC. In
time, they could diminish AKC’s position of influence if they continue
to grow at their current pace. Of equal concern is the growth and
effectiveness of the animal rights agenda. The growing number of
breeders that seek to wear the label “responsible breeder” should serve
as the foundation for this concern. While no definition exists for this
label, the negative effect it has already produced is clear. The
critic groups are prepared, poised and ready to propose legislation
that will further define and measure breeders by what they produce and
sell. They have crafted a strategy that carefully identifies the
breeder and their pups as both the victim and the target.
10

Page 11
Given the events described, no one should wonder if there is a
gathering storm. The howling winds are everywhere and with them come a
new and different kind of thinking. In retrospect, this might be a good
time to ask where we do we stand after ten years of undefined labels
and the blind acceptance of DNA. In the rush to be first, some clubs
have already begun to implement mandatory DNA programs. Acceptance of
such a requirement without understanding is certain to produce
unrealistic goals with unintended consequences. In the midst of what
seems to be more confusion, we must find the time to step back and ask
the big question. Where do we stand after ten years of undefined labels
and the announcement that DNA testing would be used to rid the studbook
of errors and clean out the cheaters? Many are beginning to question if
the strategy may have been deeply inadequate especially in light of the
fact that no one has defined the problems to be solved or their
intended solutions. Perhaps out of fear and confusion we have failed to
define the means by which we would know when we have solved the
perceived problems. We should also remind ourselves that today,
breeding is no longer an “elitist” hobby and its rewards as either a
pastime or a profession are no longer a well-kept secrete. Anyone can
become a breeder. There are no entrances examines, no rules and no
penalties. No organization serves to punish those who make mistakes or
those who produce poor quality pups. Anyone of our neighbors can claim
to be a breeder.
This dilemma will continue to worsen if the breeders, veterinary
schools, shelters and others continue to accept and use undefined
labels. Selling pups as a hobby and breeding has already been
stigmatized and many believe this is only the first inning. By the
fifth, they will be asking for a higher standard and acceptance of the
11

Page 12
principles that will produce a new kind of animal husbandry. In their
world, fewer dogs and fewer litters are better. While the options to
the future are still open, a massive educational program begs to be
ignited. At the end of the day, the clubs their breeders, vet schools
and shelters must settle on a definition for the “puppy mill”,
“responsible breeder”, “responsible dog owner", “viscous dog”,
“dangerous dog” etc. They must also articulate the vision, goals and
objectives. These efforts must become the centerpiece of their
educational programs.
Conclusion
History’s judgment will not wait to see what actions the dog world
chooses to take. The polarization of the sport is well underway. The
efforts made to date have largely focused on the use of seminars held
annually which have not been sufficient enough to reach the fancy and
the growing number of new breeders spread across America. Programs that
are fresh, brisk and focused must be designed with the help of
experienced leaders in the dog world and the research community. The
subject matter must, as a minimum, define the undefined labels and
address the utilization of DNA technology, the better breeding methods,
pedigree analysis and selection techniques, modes of inheritance, the
management of carriers, formula breeding and legislation. The time
we have is slipping away. The storm has arrived. Boarding up the
windows and the doors will no longer be good enough as a way to survive
it. The future should not be left to chance, the novice or the animal
rights movement.
If you would care to express your ideas on this subject, forward them
to me in care of the editor at K9CHRON@aol.com
12

Page 13
References:
AKC Gazette, "AKC DNA Tests", New York, New York, January 2003.
Battaglia, Carmen, Table 2. "Breed Dilemmas and Extinction", Canine
Chronicle, August 2003, pg. 104-108.
Holt, James, Key note address entitled "Puppy Protection Act" AKC Forum
Long Beach, CA, 2003.
Katz, Jack, “Deviance, Charisma, and Rule-Defined Behavior”, Social
Problems, Vol. 20, no.2, Fall, 1972, pg 186-202
Ostrander, Elaine, Presentation at a Workshop for the AKC Board of
Directors, December 13, 2004, NY, NY.
Spector, Malcolm, Labeling Theory in Social Problems: a Young journal
Launches a New Theory, Social Problems, Vol. 24, No 1., October 1976,
pg 69-75.
Strand, Patti,
Willis, Malcomb, "Breeding Dogs" Canine Health Conference, AKC Canine
health Conference, Oct. 15-17, 1999. St. Louis, MO.
Wilson, Craig, “ Moredoggerel”, USA Today, March 26, 2004, pg.2A.
About the AUTHOR
Carmen L Battaglia holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree from Florida State
University. He is an author of many articles and several books, an AKC
judge, researcher, well known lecturer on the breeding of better dogs
and in the management of clubs. For more information about his writings
go to: www.breedingbetterdogs.com
13