UKC sold

The nationís second-oldest dog registry changes hands


The United Kennel Club, the second oldest purebred dog registry in the US, has been sold to Wayne Cavanaugh by Connie G. Miller, former UKC CEO and widow of longtime owner and president Fred T. Miller.

Cavanaugh, former vice-president with the American Kennel Club, has been acting president of UKC since Fred Millerís death earlier this year.

UKC was founded in 1898 by Chauncey Bennett, a dog fancier who wanted a registry that concentrated on the working ability of dogs as well as their adherence to a physical standard. At the time, the American Kennel Club, a nonprofit organization, had been in existence for 14 years. Although usually overshadowed by AKC whenever purebred dogs are discussed or exhibited, UKC hosts about 10,000 events each year1 and registers about 250,000 dogs of more than 300 breeds and varieties.2 In contrast to AKC, however, most UKC events are working dog sports or competitions such as coonhound field trials, retriever and Beagle field trials, and obedience and agility competitions. Few all-breed conformation shows are held by UKCís 1300 clubs, but many clubs hold specialty competitions for a single breed or a specified set of breeds. UKC also publishes three magazines: Bloodlines, Coonhound Bloodlines, and Hunting Retriever.

In spite of its smaller size and lower profile, UKC has pioneered several innovations in dog registries, some of which were later adopted by AKC. Chief among them are the use of genetic testing to identify individual dogs; establishment of the State Canine Awareness Network to keep tabs on anti-dog legislation and promote reasonable dog control laws; a code of ethics for breeders; and emphasis on owner participation instead of professional handling for dogs in conformation shows. UKC was also the first registry to include agility in its repertoire of events and still remains the only major registry to accept mixed breed dogs in agility and obedience competitions.

In the past seven years, AKC has recognized several breeds formerly registered only by UKC and the breedsí national clubs, including the American Eskimo Dog, the Anatolian Shepherd, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Australian Shepherd, Canaan Dog, Jack Russell Terrier, German Pinscher, Border Collie, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

The breeds

UKC divides its 307 breeds into eight groups by their types or jobs: Companion dogs; gun dogs, northern breeds, scenthounds, sighthounds and pariah dogs; herding dogs; guardian dogs, and terriers.

Companion dogs are the breeds bred specifically as, er ... companions. The 29-breed group includes many of the AKC toy and non-sporting breeds as well as the Bolognese and the Coton de Tulear (Poodle relatives) and the Xoloitzcuintli, a small-to-medium size ancient hairless breed from Mexico.

UKCís 55 gun dogs are the setters, retrievers, and all-around hunting dogs in the AKC sporting dog group plus many European spaniels, pointers, and retrievers as well as breeds with exotic names such as Stabyhoun, Pudelpointer; Barbet; and Kooikerhondje. The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever and the Spinone Italiano, two breeds expected to be recognized by AKC, are also in this group.

The northern breeds were, of course, developed in northern regions of the world. Most have the typical thick double coat that enables them to survive life close to the Arctic Circle and have a bushy tail that curls over the back all or most of the time. The group includes some of the AKC working breeds such as the Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, and Siberian Husky as well as the American Eskimo, Keeshond, Chow Chow, Finnish Spitz, Norwegian Elkhound, Chinese Shar Pei, and Shiba Inu found in other AKC groups. UKC also registers the Chinook, Karelian Bear Dog, two Siberian Laikas, the Swedish and Finnish Lapphunds; and several other northern breeds in this 32-breed group.

Scenthounds trail their prey, noses to the ground. Along with the foxhounds, coonhounds, Bloodhound, Beagle, Basset Hound, and other common hounds, UKC adds the Black Mouth Cur, Leopard Cur, Mountain Cur, Treeing Tennessee Brindle, Stephenís Cur, and Treeing Cur form the US and several hounds from France, Germany, and other European countries to this 60-breed group.

Sighthounds and pariah dogs are a primitive group that includes dogs that hunt by sight (Borzoi, Saluki, Afghan Hound, etc.) and dogs that developed from semi-domesticated canines (Canaan Dog, Carolina Dog, and New Guinea Singing Dog). This is the smallest UKC group with only 19 breeds.

Guardian dogs are those breeds developed to guard things. The group includes mastiff-type dogs such as the Mastiff, Bullmastiff, Dogue de Bordeaux, Tibetan Mastiff, Leonberger, Boxer, and Greater Swiss Mountain Dog and flock guardians such as the Anatolian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Kangal Dog, and South Russian Ovcharka. UKC registers 37 guardian breeds.

The herding breeds (surprise) herd livestock, mostly sheep and cattle. UKC includes the AKC herding breeds plus the Australian Kelpie, Beauceron, Belgian Laekenois, Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog (a hog herder), the Tibetan Terrier, and several others in this 34-breed group.

Obedience events

Although UKC sanctions conformation, agility, and hunting events, most dog owners come in contact with the registry through its obedience competitions.

UKC obedience differs from AKC in two ways: the exercises are somewhat different at each level and competitors often praise the less competitive atmosphere. UKC clubs often hold three trials in a weekend, making it easier to finish an obedience title.

UKC obedience competitions give owners the opportunity to broaden their dogsí training and skills, to enahnce their working partnerships, and to earn another set of titles proclaiming the success of that working relationship.

Conformation events

Most breeds that show in UKC conformation shows are breeds that are not registered by AKC.

Visitors to AKC dog shows see dogs baited, combed, and brushed in the ring, in many cases by professional handlers who show several dogs for different clients. UKC, however, requires that conformation dogs be handled by their owners, breeders, their families, or a person designated by the owner or breeder. The designated person can neither accept pay for handling in UKC shows or any events by other dog show organizations. In addition, grooming equipment and food bait are not allowed in the UKC conformation ring, but judges may allow use of squeakers to animate the dog and keep it focused.

Other events

Like AKC, UKC has many shows for hunting dogs. These include nite hunts, conformation shows, water races, and field trials for coonhounds; hunts and conformation shows for Beagles, hunting tests for retrievers, and hunting events specifically for the cur and feist breeds.

Several large coonhound meets are held each year, including the Autumn Oaks held near Richmond, Indiana, each Labor Day weekend.

For more information about Americaís second oldest dog registry, visit the UKC website at For a list of Ohio UKC clubs, see the sidebar.


1. AKC has more than 4300 clubs and authorizes more than 15,000 events each year. (The Complete Dog Book (19th edition), page 1.

2. AKC registered about 1.1 million dogs of 147 breeds and varieties in 1999. (AKC Gazette, March 2000 Volume 117, Number three

Norma Bennett Woolf

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