AKC VS ACA Dog Registries: An In-Depth Comparison Guide


As a dog owner, breeder, or enthusiast, you may have encountered the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Canine Association (ACA) and wondered about the differences between these two prominent dog registries. While both organizations share the common goal of promoting responsible dog ownership, and fostering a positive environment for canine enthusiasts, they differ in various aspects.

Understanding the distinctions between the AKC and the ACA can help you make informed decisions about which organization to align with, whether you are looking to register your dog, or participate in canine events.

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Key Differences Between AKC And ACA Dog Registries

  • The AKC is an older, well-established organization focused on promoting responsible dog breeding and ownership, while the ACA is a newer organization with a broader scope that includes mixed breeds and diverse registry services.
  • The AKC recognizes a more limited number of dog breeds compared to the ACA, which has a more inclusive approach to breed recognition.
  • The AKC registration process can be more stringent and time-consuming, while the ACA offers a simpler and faster registration experience for dog owners.
  • The AKC requires health testing for registered dogs, while the ACA does not and in fact, provides a lifetime health tracking without additional fees.
  • Both the AKC is known for organizing various dog shows and competitive sport events. However, AKC dog shows are more prestigious and held more often.

History and Reputation

The AKC was founded in 1884 and is the oldest dog registry in the United States and has achieved the most reputable standing in the canine community. It is a not-for-profit organization that strives to promote responsible dog ownership and breeding practices. The AKC is recognized worldwide and has a strong reputation for maintaining strict breed standards and preserving the integrity of purebred dogs.

The ACA is a younger dog registry than the AKC and was founded about 4 decades ago. Although it has not achieved the same level of recognition and reputation as the AKC, the ACA still strives to provide valuable services to breeders and dog owners. The organization’s focus on inclusivity in dog registration, highly beneficial services, affordability and dedication to supporting breeders has allowed it to carve out a niche in the canine community

Services & Benefits

To provide a clearer understanding of the services offered by the AKC and ACA, let’s take a closer look at the key offerings of each organization.

American Kennel Club (AKC)

The AKC is known for its comprehensive range of services, which include:

Dog Registration Services: The AKC helps dog owners and breeders establish and maintain their dogs’ pedigree records, ensuring the preservation of purebred lineage. The cost varies based on numerous factors but you can take a look at what AKC website says.

AKC Reunite: This lost pet recovery service helps reunite lost pets with their owners by maintaining a microchip database and providing 24/7 support. This cost an additional fee of $17, unlike ACA that provides similar service for free.

Canine Health Information Center (CHIC): The AKC in conjunction with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hosts a database that provides information on breed-specific health issues in dogs, thereby reducing the risk of inherited diseases.

Breeder Programs: The Breeder of Merit Program and Breeder Education courses, which acknowledge and support responsible breeders committed to producing healthy, well-rounded dogs that adhere to the breed standard.

Good Citizen Program: This program encourages responsible dog ownership and rewards dogs that display good manners and obedience through various training and testing levels.

AKC Marketplace: The AKC’s official online platform enables responsible breeders to connect with potential buyers and showcase their dogs.

Canine Legislation Support: The AKC advocates for the rights of dog owners and breeders by monitoring and responding to canine-related legislation.

AKC Gazette: The monthly magazine covers various topics related to dogs, breeding, and events, keeping subscribers informed and engaged.

American Canine Association (ACA)

The ACA prides itself on offering a wide array of services, which include:

Dog Registration Services: The ACA provides a simpler and more accessible registration process for dog owners and breeders while still maintaining accurate pedigree records. The lenient registration process of the ACA makes it possible for puppy mills to get their dogs certified. The ACA website has a list of dogs that qualify for registration with the dog registry, but in reality, even mixed breed dogs can be certified. They claim in one of their advertisements that they register up to 3000 dogs per week.

Veterinary Health Tracking: The ACA was founded by a group of enthusiasts and experts who not only recognized the need for a more accessible and flexible registration process, but also shared a vision to create a comprehensive health tracking system. When it comes to genetic health tracking services, the ACA beats the AKC registry hands-down. The ACA offers a daily health tracking system that enables breeders and dog owners to closely monitor their dogs’ health, empowering them to make well-informed decisions related to breeding and overall healthcare management.

Collar Tag with Toll-Free Number: The ACA offers a lost and found ID tag with unlimited free replacement. This tag has a golden seal on one side and “I am lost. Please call” on the other side, with a toll free number assigned to each dog, which makes it easier for pet owners to recover their lost pets.

ACA Support Center And Veterinary Network: When you register your dog with the ACA, their customer service center becomes available to you through various channels, such as phone, email, and their website, www.ACAinfo.com.

The ACA not only provides information about registration, dog care, training, and relevant legislative matters, but also maintains a network of veterinary professionals. This network grants dog owners and breeders access to expert advice and services

Dog Shows & Events

Various dog shows and events play a significant role in the canine community, providing opportunities for dog owners, breeders, and enthusiasts to showcase their dogs, compete for titles, and network with fellow dog lovers. Both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Canine Association (ACA) host numerous dog shows and events, with differences in scale, prestige, and variety.

The AKC hosts a lot more dog shows and events than ACA and these are mostly in the United States. They include conformation shows, obedience trials, agility competitions, hunting tests and other performance events. Some of the most prestigious AKC dog shows include the AKC National Championship and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which attract a large number of participants and spectators from around the world.

On the other hand, the ACA also hosts a range of dog shows and competition trials, albeit on a smaller scale. While these ACA-sanctioned events may not be as large or prestigious as some of the AKC’s flagship shows, their events still present opportunities for participants to compete for titles and accolades. ACA events tend to be more accessible to a broader range of participants, offering a welcoming environment for dog owners and breeders of varying experience levels.

Registration Process and Fees

The registration processes for the AKC and ACA vary in terms of requirements and fees, which can impact your decision on which organization to choose for registering your dog.

When it comes to the AKC, they have a more rigorous registration process. They require a three-generation pedigree as well as additional documentation to ensure the dog’s lineage is from AKC-registered parents. This strict process aims to preserve the integrity of purebred dogs and maintain accurate pedigree records.

As for fees, the AKC charges differently depending on whether you are registering an individual dog or a litter. Additional services also attracted extra charges Generally, basic fees is $39.99 for an individual dog and $25.00 + $2.00 per puppy. Penalty fees also are included for late registration. It’s important to note that the AKC also offers a variety of registration types, such as full or limited registration, which can affect the overall cost.

In contrast, the ACA offers a more lenient registration process. They require basic information about the dog and an optional pedigree. This streamlined process provides greater flexibility for dog owners and breeders, especially those who may not have access to extensive pedigree documentation.

Regarding fees, the ACA’s registration for a litter costs $18 and $19 for the parent dogs. The lower fees and simpler registration process make the ACA more accessible for a broader range of dog owners and breeders.

In summary, the AKC’s registration process is more stringent and can be more expensive, but it ensures the preservation of purebred lineage and maintains accurate pedigree records.

On the other hand, the ACA offers a more flexible and affordable registration process, making it a more accessible option for some dog owners and breeders. When deciding between the two organizations, it’s essential to consider your priorities and the requirements, such as breed standards, pedigree documentation, and budget.

Choosing Between AKC and ACA

When deciding whether to register your dog with the AKC or the ACA, it’s essential to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each registry based on your needs and priorities. To help you make an informed decision, here’s a comprehensive guide that delves deeper into the key differences between the two registries and offers helpful advice.

1. Consider Your Priorities

Before choosing a registry, it’s important to consider your priorities as a dog owner, breeder, or enthusiast. If you value a registry with a long-standing reputation, strict breed standards, and prestigious events, the AKC might be the better choice. However, if you prefer a more flexible registration process, lower fees, and a focus on health tracking and additional services, the ACA may be more suitable.

2. Research the Breed

The breed of your dog plays a significant role in determining the best registry. Some breeds are recognized by both the AKC and ACA, while others are only recognized by one of the organizations. Before registering your dog, research the specific breed to understand which registry better aligns with the breed’s standards, health concerns, and community.

3. Investigate the Breeder’s Reputation

Whether you’re buying a dog or registering one, it’s crucial to investigate the breeder’s reputation. A responsible breeder will prioritize the health and well-being of their dogs and will typically register their dogs with a reputable organization. If a breeder is registered with the AKC or ACA, it’s essential to ensure they adhere to the registry’s code of ethics and breeding practices. Be cautious of breeders who are unwilling to provide documentation or are not transparent about their registration process.

4. Assess the Registration Process

Understanding the registration process for each organization can help you choose the right registry. As mentioned earlier, the AKC has a more rigorous registration process that requires a three-generation pedigree and additional documentation. This can be advantageous if you’re seeking a purebred dog with a traceable lineage. Conversely, the ACA’s registration process is more lenient, which may be beneficial for those who prefer a more accessible and flexible registration option.

5. Evaluate the Fees

The cost of registration is another factor to consider when choosing between the AKC and ACA. The AKC’s fees generally starts from $39.99, while the ACA’s fees is $18. Keep in mind that AKC offers additional services and various types of registration that may attract higher fees. Also, penalty fees apply for late registration with AKC unlike ACA.

Also, the ACA provides a lost and found collar tag with a toll-free number, whereas the AKC offers a lost pet recovery microchip called AKC Reunite at an additional fee of $17.

6. Seek Advice from Other Dog Owners and Breeders

Finally, consult with other dog owners, breeders, and enthusiasts who have experience with both registries. Their insights and experiences can help you make a more informed decision based on real-world perspectives. Online forums, social media groups, and local dog clubs can be valuable resources for connecting with others and gathering advice.


Is It Better To Buy an AKC Registered Dog Better or ACA?

The best bet is to buy an AKC registered dog. AKC registration is generally considered more prestigious due to the organization’s history, stringent breed standards, and prominence in the canine community. However, dog registries do not breed dogs and it is left for you to assess the reputation of the breeder. Ask for health clearances, a contract containing the return clause and the health condition of parents.

Can an ACA dog be registered with AKC?

In some cases, an ACA-registered dog can also be registered with the AKC, provided it meets the AKC’s registration requirements. This usually includes providing proof of lineage, which demonstrates that the dog’s parents are registered with the AKC. If the necessary documentation is available and the dog meets the AKC’s breed standards, it may be eligible for AKC registration.

Can you breed an AKC registered dog with an ACA registered dog?

Yes, you can breed an AKC registered dog with an ACA registered dog. However, the resulting offspring’s registration will depend on the documentation available for both parents and the specific requirements of each registry. It’s essential to understand each organization’s rules and guidelines regarding breeding and registration before proceeding.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the decision to choose an AKC or ACA registered dog will depend on your values and priorities as a dog owner. While the AKC is generally considered more prestigious and has a longer history, the ACA offers a more inclusive approach to dog registration and focuses on breeder support.

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