How to Read a Dog Pedigree

Elliot's Blue Collar Carbonator - Ellie's Mom
Elliot's Blue Collar Carbonator - Ellie's Mom

We picked up our little 'handful' over a week ago. Ellie is a full blooded Chocolate Labrador Retriever. She is an 'American Field Lab' which is not a recognized breed by the AKC, although I think they are working on it. The breed standard is the English Labrador Retriever which is stockier with the distinctive block head. The American field lab is slimmer, taller and has a thinner head. The build is more for field hunting, running through thickets and they are streamlined to be a faster. There are English Labrador breeders in our part of the country but we have always had the field variety and are in love with the looks of them. We have always had pure bred labs also. I can appreciate folks wanting to save animals and it is a Great thing they do to give rescues a home, but I am in love with the breed itself and want to support the breeders that work so hard to keep the bloodline going.

When I was looking for a breeder I started at the AKC website( they have a referral service for all types of dogs that is online). We live in the Southeastern United States and there are many breeders within a tri state area. I actually choose a breeder that had photos on their website that showed how they treat their dogs. In particular a shot of the breeders Dad on an L-shaped couch, asleep with three dogs spread out around him on the rest of the couch. Some communication confirmed that, although raising a strong hunting bloodline they took fine care of their dogs. I was sold.

When we picked up our girl the breeder and I went through a folder they gave us with all the paperwork in it and some additional helpful articles on training. In this folder was the pedigree linage of both the Dam and the Sire going back three generations. Also included was a litter certificate that gave the bloodline of Ellie going back three generations. Although we are not going to breed Ellie we will register her with the AKC so we might take advantage of both the information they provide and possible competitions later (note that mixed breeds are allowed in some competitions as well).


So we will get a limited AKC registration which registers Ellie but not any of her offspring if bred. There is a 26 month limited guarantee on Ellie for hips and elbows. Labradors are genetically disposed to have joint problems, probably due to interbreeding the same bloodline. Other dogs have genetic dispositions as well for instance Dalmatians are prone to hearing issues. In guaranteeing the pups the Dam and Sire were certified with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals(OFA) and we got copies of certification certificates for hips and elbows on both parents.


The AKC naming for the dogs in the bloodline will have abbreviations before and after the name according to any titles or accreditation the dog earns through the AKC. For instance Confirmation titles are listed as the following by the AKC.

CH = Champion of Record
BIS = Best in Show
BISS = Best in Specialty Show

The placement of the title abbreviations are important to the meaning. Confirmation titles appear before the name while working, obedience, tracking, agility, field titles and health certifications are after the name, except if they are representative of a Champion level, which is the highest attained and comes before name.

Here are some of the abbreviations used to give you and idea.

Obedience Title:
CGC - CANINE GOOD CITIZEN
CD - COMPANION DOG
CDX - COMPANION DOG EXCELLENT
UD - UTILITY DOG
UDX - UTILITY DOG EXCELLENT
OTCH - OBEDIENCE TRIAL CHAMPION (placed before the name)

Agility Titles:
NA - NOVICE AGILITY
OA - OPEN AGILITY
AX - AGILITY EXCELLENT
MX - MASTER AGILITY EXCELLENT

Tracking Titles:
TD - TRACKING DOG
TDX - TRACKING DOG EXCELLENT
VST - VARIABLE SURFACE TRACKER
CT - CHAMPION TRACKER (placed before the name)
TC - TEMPERAMENT CERTIFIED
TT - TEMPERAMENT TESTED

Here are some examples of health certifications and other awards or titles.

OFA - Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - a non-profit group that issues certification on canine health issues not limited to orthopedics.
CERF - Canine Eye Registration Foundation

ROM - Register of Merit (awarded to a Dam or Sire for the accomplishments of its progeny.
AOE - Award of Excellence (dog must be a Champion, receive a select rating at a national show, OFA certified hips and elbows and have earned a performance degree in obedience, tracking, agility, etc.

There are no standards and the American Kennel Club has different certifications than European associations.

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Comments 2 comments

Pamela-anne profile image

Pamela-anne 3 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

I can't believe all the different types of titles dogs can have; my dog (Zowie ) is a black sheppard or so we where told but she has no papers to prove this one way or another but we love her regardless of her pedigree. Thanks for sharing this informative hub take care and keep the hubs coming!


datahound profile image

datahound 3 years ago from USA Author

Thank you Pamela,

You know that mix breeds are allowed to participate in almost all of the competitions that the AKC offers. This would not include confirmation events (i.e. dog shows like Westminister Dog Show in New York, New York) but rally, obedience, agility, etc. (i.e. all the fun stuff) are all open to mixed breeds.

I am starting my two in obedience classes and looking into some dog sports when I gain some control over them. They could be sled dogs right now, they pull so hard.

Thanks for reading and commenting. Lots of fun with Zowie!

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