Past, present and future – American Kennel Club

by Claire Wiley VMD, DACVIM, Executive Director, AKC DNA Program
and Mark Dunn, Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management

The AKC DNA program, established in 1996, has the largest canine DNA database in the world with nearly one million samples. Harnessing the power of genotyping technology, the AKC’s DNA program was created to ensure the integrity of its registry and to help breeders verify the accuracy of their breeding records. Going forward, the AKC DNA Program has exciting plans to offer new products to help breeders in their mission to produce better dogs.


The current AKC DNA profiling program includes 13 short tandem repeat (STR) markers and one gender marker. Set up in 2003, this panel provides a dog’s AKC DNA profile for identification and parentage; it does not provide any information on conformation, breed or the presence/absence of genetic diseases. Each new AKC DNA profile is systematically compared to the genotypes of all AKC registered dogs and litters previously profiled and whelped on or after January 1, 2000, allowing the AKC to determine if the offspring came from the dam and sire tested with a confidence greater than 99%. .

With the current DNA database containing nearly one million profiles, the AKC can assess the integrity of the registry with great accuracy. Each year, the AKC receives over 40,000 DNA samples and, when available, each resulting profile is matched against its parents and/or offspring, with less than 3% of the samples requiring follow-up research to resolve any parentage or record keeping. questions.

However, newer technologies, leveraging the use of genome-wide genetic variance, offer better cost-effectiveness and sample throughput, as well as the ability to easily and inexpensively collect markers. to support canine research and/or provide future services to AKC breeders. Therefore, in 2019, AKC supported a research study at North Carolina State University (Drs. Breen and Allwood) to evaluate cross-platform genotyping and recommend new technology for the AKC program. The study led to the development of a new proprietary 201 single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel for AKC use that will become the AKC standard by 2023.


The AKC has a comprehensive set of programs used to provide dog owners and breeders with assurance regarding identification and parentage, including:

  • Voluntary DNA Profile Program
  • Kennel Inspections/Compliance Audit Program (CAP)
  • Frequently Used Bull Requirement (FUS)
  • Extended/Frozen Fresh Sperm Requirement
  • Registration policy for litters with several sires
  • AKC Parentage Assessment Program
  • Requirements for imported broodstock
  • Conditional registration

Voluntary DNA Profile Program: An AKC DNA profile containing the dog’s registration information, genotype and a unique DNA profile number is issued for each sampled dog. This DNA profile number will appear on subsequent registration certificates and AKC pedigrees. Many breeders choose to voluntarily submit to DNA profiling in advance or in anticipation of mandatory AKC requirements such as FUS.

Kennel Inspections/Compliance Audit (CAP) Program: DNA samples are sometimes taken by AKC field inspectors who perform approximately 3,000 kennel inspections each year.

Requirements for Frequently Used Bulls (FUS): This policy of the AKC Board of Directors requires mandatory genotyping of all bulls prior to registration of a 4e worn during a calendar year or a 7e carried in the life of a father. All breeders, but especially those who purchase breeding stock or breeding stock from other breeders, are encouraged to use the AKC’s voluntary DNA program to verify the parentage of purchased breeding stock well in advance of FUS requirements to avoid future problems.

Fresh Expanded/Frozen Sperm Requirement: Since October 1998, the AKC has required mandatory genotyping of all stallions whose semen is collected for prolonged use frozen or fresh. DNA profiling is not required for artificial inseminations where dog and female dog are present.

Registration policy for litters with several sires: Since September 1998, the AKC has required mandatory genotyping of all potential bulls as well as the dam and all pups of any multi-sib litter. As of October 2022, no penalty is required for multi-spawn litters.

AKC Parentage Assessment Program: The The AKC will assess the parentage of a litter and provide a parentage assessment chart and written report based on the genotypes registered with the AKC. Breeders must submit DNA samples for all dogs that are not already in the AKC DNA database at the time of application. AKC parentage assessment. Sampled dogs do not need to be registered with the AKC to participate in the evaluation.

Requirements for imported broodstock: Imported dogs registered on or after March 1, 2006 must have an AKC DNA profile before registering an AKC litter whelped in the United States. This requirement applies to both men and women.

AKC conditional registration

If dogs with unresolved parentage exclusions are considered purebred, the excluded dogs and their offspring receive conditional registration certificates and pedigrees from the AKC instead of being voided. “Unknown” will be noted on the registration or pedigree of the ancestor in question and of any male/female bred to a dog with AKC conditional registration is necessary to have DNA on file with AKC in order to register a litter. Downgrading to conditional status will remain in effect for the excluded dog(s) and all offspring until a three-generation pedigree of parentage verified by AKC DNA is established. Documents issued to conditional dogs are clearly labeled as conditional. AKC conditional registration allows breeders to resolve parentage issues without totally removing purebred dogs from the gene pool. By fully documenting and disclosing the incident of unknown parentage, breeders and dog owners can make their own informed decisions about whether they will purchase or breed a certain dog.


Over the next year, we plan to launch a cost-effective genetic health test that focuses on breed-specific needs. We also aim to provide breeder specific services including genetic counseling for breeders. Our goal is to provide accurate information to enable breeders to make the best decisions for their breeding programs.

Additionally, genetic testing relies on strong breed-specific data. Care should be taken when extrapolating test results to a distinct breed or even a subgroup of the breed. Public dog genome sequences are growing rapidly, but not all breeds are represented equally. For more common breeds, these sequences may not reflect the full spectrum of genetic diversity within the breed. To address these issues, the AKC plans to sequence thousands of dogs to develop a benchmark database of genomic information for each breed and to help further canine health research. By using the registry to produce elaborate breed pedigrees, the AKC is in a unique position to ensure that the genetic diversity within the registry is represented. Ultimately, this information will be in the hands of breeders to help them achieve their goal of producing better, healthier dogs.


The AKC DNA program is one of the oldest continuously operating canine DNA operations in the world. With nearly one million dogs profiled, over 500,000 canine DNA samples in storage, and over 250,000 participating breeders, the AKC remains a leader and innovator in this important field. Now in its third decade, the program is well positioned to take advantage of new and emerging technologies to help breeders and dog owners.

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