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Breed Club

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A breed club, in the hobby of dog fancy, is an organization dedicated to breeding and showing of one single breed of dog as opposed to a diverse mixture of dogs.

Breed clubs are important to the hobby for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is in resolving disagreements over just what characterizes a breed. Not all so-called "all-breed" kennel clubs accept all breeds, or recognize certain varieties of dogs as constituting a true breed. In this instance, a breed club may maintain its own registry of lineage while at the same time lobbying for the acceptance of its breed by one or more kennel clubs.

Other breed clubs are for owners of well-established breeds who merely enjoy interaction with fellow owners of similar dogs. These breed clubs leave the function of a registry to such major kennel clubs as the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, and the like and exist more for social purposes, the dissemination of news about the breed, and in some instances the organization of single-breed shows.

Affiliation or independence?

Clubs organized around working breeds often maintain their own registries with no intent of seeking recognition by any all-breed kennel club. This is usually because they believe that the common practices of the all-breed clubs, such as maintaining closed studbooks and awarding prizes based on appearance and conformation rather than on performance, don't serve to protect the working abilities of the dogs.

In some cases, the breed clubs of non-working dogs also choose to remain independent. These clubs cite the desire to maintain control over their breed; often these clubs have more stringent breeding criteria than the all-breed clubs. Differences can also arise over the breed's conformation points.

The decision to remain independent poses its own set of problems. Members are denied the fun and prestige of competing in all-breed shows. Unless the group is very large, it can suffer from a lack of funding and lobby support that the kennel clubs can provide. Breed-specific legislation poses another threat. In Australia, for example, it has long been rumoured that so-called animal rights groups favour legislation that would forbid the breeding of dogs from any breed recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council; this could lead to a breed's extinction.

These issues have led to situations in which unresolved conflicts have resulted in the creation of competing breed clubs for the same breed (as in the Rat Terrier clubs; notorious for the amount of ill will among them, and the clubs of the Coton de Tulear). The differences of opinion have even resulted in the development of some new breeds; the Tenterfield Terrier from the Miniature Fox Terrier is an example, as are the several forms of Jack Russell Terrier and the Shiloh Shepherd Dog. These divisions are sometimes mutually agreed upon, sometimes not. In such an atmosphere it becomes difficult for kennel club to determine which club has or should have authority over the breed, and even more difficult for the layperson to decide which club to join.

When an all-breed kennel club does recognize one of these breeds, there can be considerable acrimony. In the worst cases, the kennel club recognition can be compared to a hostile takeover in a Mergers and Acquisitions deal. In some cases, the all-breed club recognizes the breed club's registry, as the American Kennel Club recognizes the National Greyhound Association, the Master of Foxhounds Association, and so on. In some cases, they do not, and instead start their own registry. Many breed clubs—such as, in the United States, the Australian Shepherd Club of America, the Jack Russell Terrier Club of America, and the United States Border Collie Club—opposed recognition of their breeds by the all-breed registries. These breed clubs have continued to maintain their own registries despite the creation of the all-breed clubs' registries, and have expressed in varying degrees opposition to how the all-breed clubs' standards and values affect the breeds.

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