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Things to Know When Buying a Pedigree Dog

Updated on November 27, 2016

The Business of Pedigree

You have to watch your language when you are in the company of "dog" people. If you refer to a blue-blooded canine as a "thoroughbred" or a "pedigreed" dog, that marks you as an outsider. The term thoroughbred is applied to horses or cattle, never to dogs. The pedigree is a chart showing the family tree of a particular dog or litter of pups.

The aristocrats of the dog world are always described as "purebred". By definition, a purebred dog is one belonging to a breed with recognized characteristics that have been maintained through many generations of unmixed descent.

In actual practice, purebred dogs are those that are recognized by one or more of the established kennel clubs. The American Kennel Club now recognizes 116 different purebred dogs. Still other kinds of dogs are accepted by the United Kennel Club. To complicate the matter a bit, the Field Dog Stud Book maintains a registry of hunting (sporting) dogs of breeds which are also recognized by the A.K.C. Also, some breeds of dogs that are not considered purebred in America are registered by the kennel clubs of other countries.

The basic test of a purebred dog is that it must breed true to type. In other words, if you mate two specimens of any "pure" breed, the offspring will possess the characteristics of the parents and of the breed.

The dogs that have won recognition as purebred have gone through a lengthy process before becoming eligible for "registration" in the stud book of the A.K.C. Before any breed has been recognized, its sponsors have had to form a "specialty" club. The club's constitution, by-laws and membership lists have been submitted to the A.K.C. for approval, together with an acceptable "description and standard" which describes the traits of the breed in detail, and considerable supporting evidence that the dog in question is of a purebred type which reproduces its kind.

Photo by Philip MacKenzie
Photo by Philip MacKenzie

When Buying a Dog or Puppy

In making an investment in a purebred dog, you should be certain that you receive the dog's "papers". In the case of an older dog, he will probably have been registered with the appropriate kennel club and the owner provides you with the registration certificate. You sign it on the back, have the seller sign, and you send it to the kennel club with the required fee to record the change of ownership. This is necessary in the event that you plan to show the dog or to breed it and register the puppies.

If you are buying the dog from a kennel owner or breeder, he should be able to provide you with a copy of the pedigree which records the ancestors of the dog you are buying and also the designation "Ch." before the names of any champions in his ancestry. Where the dog is represented as a purebred, but no papers are available, the cost of the dog should be much less than for one that is documented.

The pedigree is not necessary for registration; it is merely for your information and to show the worth of the dog in terms of bloodlines. If you want an official pedigree of your dog, you can obtain it from the kennel club records by sending in an application form. The fee depends on how many generations back you want his ancestry traced.

When you buy a purebred puppy, he will probably not have been registered, though the litter is. The litter must be registered before any individual puppy can be. As the stud book maintains records from generation to generation, no dog may be registered unless both his parents are.

The seller of the puppy will give you an application for registration form.

On this appear the names and stud book numbers of the dog's parents and the name of breeder who signs the form. You in turn must fill in the data which establish you as the new owner of the dog (a co-owner may be included) and the name you select for the dog. The name is limited to twenty-five letters. It must not be the name of a living person without that person's written permission, and must not duplicate the name used by another dog of the same breed. A space is provided for an alternate name in case your first choice is not allowed.

If your registration is with the American Kennel Club, send the completed application form to the A.K.C. at 51 Madison Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010, with the registration fee. In a few weeks, if the papers are in order, you will receive a certificate of registration from the A.K.C. showing that your dog has been entered in the stud book of his breed.

If your dog is one of the hunting breeds and you prefer to enter him in the Field Dog Stud Book, you must obtain the following forms from the seller:

1. Certificate from owner of bitch which the breeder must fill out completely.

2. Certificate from owner of stud dog-if the litter has not already been registered with the Field Dog Stud Book.

3. Application for registration, which you, as the purchaser, fill out. Send the required certificates and the registration fee to the American Field Publishing Company.

The Field Dog Stud Book registration is necessary if you plan to train your dog to work in the field and to run him in field trials.


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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      8 years ago from San Francisco

      It makes me giggle to think that so many dogs, with such high value and 'papers' and all that fanciness, have so much more class than I can ever dream to have! Lovely Hub :D

    • Longtail profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Neapolitan mastiff! Big! And so lovable! I've never owned one but I knew someone with one. He too had been abandoned and looking the worse for wear. But he was nursed back to health.

      In my other hub ( I suggest that people give abandoned and surrendered dogs a second chance. The only thing I personally consider important about a breed (be it mixed or pure) is whether or not it's suitable for a person, their lifestyle and their living arrangements.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Comprehensively done and definitely useful.

      We just acquired what appears to be (most likely) a purebred Neapolitan mastiff who meandered up our rural driveway and adopted us, end of discussion. He's not show quality and probably not registered, which would explain why he's neutered. And he's elderly, which would explain why (since those dogs aren't runners) he was (we're pretty sure) abandoned and arrived footsore, hungry, and thirsty, with clear evidence of having been in a scrap or two.

      Fortunately, our family cares little for snooty AKC stuff, and our 150 pound guy is now snoring mightily at my feet as I type.

      But he could surely have a sibling or cousin out there with AKC papers up the wazoo.


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