You will hear many breeders say, "My puppy comes with AKC papers!" Awesome, now I know that my puppy is a real, healthy Maltese and comes from a reputable breeder. But, is that true? Let's take a closer look.
Most people think "AKC registered puppies" means good quality. That's what the AKC would like you to believe. But it's not true.
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AKC registration is simply a chain of numbers
The truth about "AKC registered puppies" is this:
The AKC will register any puppy whose parents are registered.
The AKC registered those parents because their parents were registered.
And so on.
AKC registration is a mechanical process, a chain of numbers.
You send the AKC money. If the owners of your puppy's parents and grandparents were all good folks who kept the chain intact by sending in their money, the AKC will add your puppy to the chain, sending you a piece of paper with a number on it. Voila.... your puppy is registered.
As Dr. Herm David, Ph.D. says, "The AKC has an infinite supply of numbers. It's a good business to be in."
"What about a pedigree? Doesn't a pedigree mean good quality?"
'Fraid not. Send more money, and the AKC will access their database again and spit out the names of your puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, as many generations as you're willing to pay for. Voila . . . your puppy's pedigree.
A pedigree is a bunch of names.
Registration papers and pedigrees don't tell you anything about a dog, other than its place in the chain of names.
To get registration papers or a pedigree, a dog doesn't need to meet any qualifications of health, temperament, behavior, or structure.
A dog can be sickly, vicious, knees pointing every which way and the AKC will issue the exact same kind of registration number.
AKC Registered Dog
This dog is an AKC registered Italian Greyhound, who spent her life in a puppy mill producing AKC registered puppies. Many people bought her puppies assuming that because they were 'papered', that they were better quality dogs.
"Good grief! I thought AKC registered meant good quality!"
Don't be fooled. Registration papers don't suggest quality in a dog any more than they suggest quality in a car. Does buying a car with registration papers mean it won't be a clunker? Of course not.
In fact, registration papers suggest quality in cars more than in dogs, because in most states a car can only be registered if it has at least passed a smog/pollutant check or mechanical safety check.
The AKC registers dogs with no health or safety checks at all.
So now you know that the existence of AKC papers or a pedigree doesn't mean a dog is good quality. AKC registered puppies with pedigrees is just not a big selling point, no matter how loudly a breeder trumpets it in his classified ad.
"But papers at least guarantee that a dog is purebred, right?"
Boy, I'm really beginning to feel like the bearer of bad news here!
Purebred dogs No. Being purebred means a puppy has inherited the limited combination of genes that have been "fixed" in his breed's gene pool. These are genes for the particular size, type of coat, color pattern, shape of ears, and so on, that match his breed.
Inheriting the genes for his breed is what makes a dog purebred. Registration papers are a separate matter.
A dog can be purebred, yet have no registration papers. And.... a dog can have registration papers, yet still not be purebred.
It's true. A dog can have registration papers, yet not be purebred, because registration papers can be falsified. Most registries, such as the AKC, operate primarily on the honor system. They simply take the breeder's word for it that "King" and "Queen" were really the parents of Solomon.
But scams happen.
Let's say Dishonest Dave has two purebred Maltese with registration papers.
The female is accidentally bred by a stray dog of unknown ancestry.
Dishonest Dave is unwilling to give up the $2,000 he could get for "AKC registered Maltese puppies" so when the litter arrives, he fills out the litter registration paperwork – claiming that his Maltese was actually the father.
The AKC will dutifully mail him Maltese registration papers for each puppy, which he will happily pass along to the buyer of each puppy.... collecting his $2.000 as he does so.
And no one will be the wiser until the puppies grow up and start to look suspiciously non-Malteseish. Oh, and they now have papers to register their non-Maltese puppies as Maltese with. The scam goes on....