AKC vs ICA Dog Registries: What Are The Differences?


Most dog enthusiasts, breeders, and potential pet owners are likely familiar with American Kennel Club (AKC) but International Canine Association (ICA), not very much. Situated within the United States, both the AKC and ICA cater to the diverse interests of the dog-loving community by providing their specialized services in breed recognition, registration, and pedigree services.

With its rich history and commitment to the health and welfare of purebred dogs, the AKC has become an esteemed authority in the world of canines. The AKC maintains strict standards for breeding and dog care. It also organizes a staggering 20,000 dog events annually, reflecting its prominence in the canine world.

This venerable institution has garnered the trust of countless breed clubs, breeders, and dog owners, positioning itself as a valuable resource for all things related to our beloved four-legged friends.

The ICA is a subsidiary of ACA which is the largest veterinary tracking dog registry in the US of A. Unlike AKC, the ICA takes a more relaxed approach to registration, making it an appealing option for dogs that may not qualify for AKC registration or those with ICA-registered parents. By doing so, they have been able to carve out their own little space for canine aficionados.

This article provides a comprehensive comparison of AKC and ICA to help you make informed decisions when choosing a dog registry or purchasing a dog.

Comparison Table Between AKC And ICA

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The American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded in 1884 and has since grown to be the largest purebred dog registry in the United States. As a non-profit organization, the AKC is dedicated to the advancement of purebred dogs, promoting responsible dog ownership and breeding practices. The AKC also advocates for the welfare and health of dogs, sponsors various canine events, and provides educational resources to the public.

The International Canine Association (ICA) is a subsidiary of the American Canine Association (ACA), an organization established in 1984, by a group of experts and dog fanciers who sought to promote the health tracking of canines. While the ACA aims to provide registration services for dogs, the ICA branches out into other pets like cats, birds, and other pets.

Over the years, the AKC and ICA have evolved to accommodate changing trends and advancements in the canine world.

Breed Recognition and Standards

The AKC currently recognizes over 190 breeds, with each breed classified into one of seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. The AKC breed recognition process involves meeting certain breed standards and providing health clearances and 3-generation pedigree documentation.

The ICA recognizes a broader range of breeds, including rare and emerging breeds, as well as those not yet eligible for registration with the AKC. It maintains an open registry, which allows breeders and owners to register designer dogs and purebred dogs without a certified 3-generation pedigree. The ICA allows for the registration of animals apart from dogs.

While both AKC and ICA maintain breed standards, the AKC has a more rigorous and structured process for breed recognition. The ICA offers a more flexible approach, accommodating rare and developing breeds, making it an attractive option for breeders and owners of less common breeds.

Registration Process and Benefits

AKC Registration

Follow these brief steps to officially register your purebred dog with the American Kennel Club (AKC):

1. Get the AKC registration form provided by your dog’s breeder, who should have registered the entire litter.

2. If the form is missing, reach out to the breeder to gather more information about your dog’s lineage and the breeder’s registration.

3. Fill in the paper or online form on the AKC website, specifying your dog’s appearance and your contact details.

4. Remit the required registration fee and send the form to the AKC.

5. Within 2 weeks, expect your dog’s registration certificate by mail, and verify its accuracy.

6. Check the AKC website to learn about the advantages and resources available for you and your puppy.

The AKC offers registration services for purebred dogs, with strict requirements on the documentation of lineage, known as a pedigree. AKC registration ensures that a dog’s pedigree is maintained accurately and that the dog meets the breed standards. AKC-registered dogs are eligible to participate in AKC events and competitions.

AKC has a starting fee of $35 for online submissions and $39.99 for paper forms. AKC offers a microchip service known as AKC Reunite at an additional cost of $17. This also comes with an ID and a toll-free number like that of ICA. It is important to note that late registrations with AKC may be subject to penalty fees.

ICA Registration

Register your purebred or designer pup with the ICA by following these concise steps:

1. Request an ICA registration application through the ICA website. You can also give them a call or shot them an email

2. Fill out the form with the required information about your dog, the breeder, and your contact details.

3. Pay the registration fee ($38) and pet ID fee ($8.99), and submit the application to the ICA.

4. Wait for the processing, and receive your dog’s registration certificate from the ICA.

5. Review the certificate for accuracy and contact ICA if any changes are needed.

6. Explore the ICA website for benefits and services available to you and your puppy.

The ICA offers a more lenient registration process, allowing breeders and owners to submit documentation for breeds that may not yet have a formal breed standard. ICA registration grants dogs eligibility to participate in ACA-sanctioned events, as both organizations fall under the same entity.

The ICA requires a $38 registration fee and an extra $8.99 for a pet ID, which offers access to ACA health tracking and a lost and found tag with a toll-free number.

AKC vs ICA Dog Registries: What Are The Differences?

Dog Shows and Events

The AKC organizes various dog shows and competitions, including conformation shows, obedience trials, agility trials, and various other performance events. Some renowned AKC-sanctioned dog shows include the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, the National Dog Show, and the AKC National Championship. These events are designed to evaluate and showcase the abilities, temperament, and adherence to the breed standards of participating dogs.

ICA registration gives you access to all ACA-sanctioned events which focus primarily on conformation shows and competitions that promote breed recognition. While the range of events may be more limited compared to the AKC, ICA shows provide an opportunity for owners and breeders of rare or emerging breeds to showcase their dogs.

Health and Wellness Programs

The AKC demonstrates its dedication to advancing canine health and welfare through several initiatives, including the AKC Canine Health Foundation. This foundation funds scientific research on canine health concerns, provides educational materials, and encourages ethical breeding practices to minimize the occurrence of genetic disorders in dogs.

While the ICA does not have a dedicated health foundation like the AKC, it encourages responsible breeding practices by providing guidelines for breeders and facilitating communication between breeders, owners, and veterinarians. The ICA also promotes awareness of breed-specific health issues through its educational resources.

Health initiatives

While both organizations advocate for canine health and wellness, the AKC’s approach is more comprehensive, with a dedicated health foundation and extensive research funding. The ICA focuses on providing guidance and fostering communication between breeders and owners to promote responsible breeding practices.

Choosing the Right Organization

When selecting a registry, consider the breed of your dog, the services offered by each organization, their respective reputations, and the costs associated with registration. It is also essential to consider your goals, such as participating in dog shows, preserving breed standards, or promoting responsible breeding practices.

Your choice may also depend on your specific needs and preferences. For example, if you own a rare or developing breed, the ICA may be a more suitable option. On the other hand, if you want access to comprehensive resources and events for a widely recognized breed, the AKC might be a better choice.


In summary, the AKC and ICA offer distinct services and cater to different needs within the canine community. While the AKC is a reputable organization with a long history, extensive resources, and a focus on canine health, the ICA provides a more inclusive alternative. By understanding the differences between these two organizations, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs and the needs of your dog.

Additional Resources

A. Official websites and social media accounts for AKC and ICA

– AKC: www.akc.org | Facebook: @akcdoglovers | Twitter: @akcdoglovers | Instagram: @americankennelclub

– ICA: www.icapets.com (access through ACA website)

B. Suggested books, articles, and documentaries for further reading

– “The Complete Dog Book” by the American Kennel Club

– “The New Complete Dog Book” by the American Kennel Club

– “The World of Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide to the Canine Kingdom” by Jane Simmonds

C. Contact information for both organizations

– AKC: (919) 233-9767 | info@akc.org

– ICA: (800) 651-8332 | info@acacanines.com

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