The Differences Between the AKC and UKC

Acronyms like AKC and UKC are frequently thrown around when looking up information on various dog breeds and their descriptions. These acronyms represent the names of well-known kennel clubs in which dogs are registered around the world. Different kennel clubs (or breed clubs) offer different services, different levels of competition, and varying requirements for dog pedigrees to meet their specific standards. So, what does it mean if a dog is AKC- or UKC-registered, and what is the difference between the two?

difference between akc and ukc
Difference Between AKC and UKC

AKC is the abbreviation for the American Kennel Club, and UKC is the abbreviation for the United Kennel Club. The most notable difference between the two is that the AKC is an NPO, or non-profit organization, whereas the UKC is not. The UKC is a corporation that turns a profit.

There are some other differences as well, though. While both organizations are located within the United States, the American Kennel Club only registers national dog breeds, while the United Kennel Club registers international breeds as well and is much more inclusive. Although the AKC is still considered more popular than the UKC, it is also more strict with its registration requirements.

Let’s take a further look at the similarities and differences between the AKC and the UKC.

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What is the AKC?

The American Kennel Club, more commonly referenced as the AKC, is an organization in the United States that registers pure-breed dogs. The AKC headquarters is located in New York City and has been operating since 1884 as a non-profit organization.

Currently, the AKC registers and recognizes almost 193 different dog breeds, although it only registers national breeds based on parentage. Despite its strict standards, or possibly even because of its exclusivity, the AKC is considered one of the most influential kennel clubs in the world.

The AKC hosts several programs such as its National Championship, confirmation shows, performance events, and companion events. However, the organization does not register individuals for these but only allows kennel club members to participate and only with select breeds.

What is the UKC?

“UKC” is the abbreviation for the United Kennel Club. This club is also located in the United States and was founded in 1898. The UKC headquarters is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is an established for-profit corporation.

Approximately 300 dog breeds are registered and recognized by the UKC, which is a significantly higher number than the AKC. This club also registers individuals and clubs, thus providing more options for pedigreed dog owners. Rather than only registering national breeds, the UKC operates internationally, serving over 25 countries.

Field events, hunting programs, and the UKC’s championship program are offered each year among several other events available for all breeds.


There are several distinct differences between the AKC and the UKC that are worth noting.

  1. The AKC only registers national dog breeds. However, the UKC recognizes international pedigrees as well.
  2. The UKC recognizes all breeds and is less strict about their registration requirements, but the AKC registration process is strongly dependent upon a dog’s parentage.
  3. There are more dog breeds recognized by the UKC compared to the more strict AKC.
  4. The UKC is a for-profit corporation, and the AKC is a non-profit organization.
  5. The AKC is considered more influential and is seemingly more popular by comparison.
  6. The UKC allows for individual member registration, and the AKC does not.

Does it matter if a pup is registered?

Breeders and trainers gather every year to show off their pedigreed pups at AKC and UKC shows. While these events are beautiful to watch, the “winners” at these dog shows don’t necessarily represent well-bred dogs nor do they represent organizations that ensure proper care and breeding of their litters.

While the AKC purports to only show the “best,” they do nothing to ensure that pedigreed pups are bred by experienced breeders or in proper breeding facilities. They have been active in fighting against laws in the United States that would stop puppy mills from operating. Upon inspection by the American Humane Society, at least two of the AKC’s recognized “Breeders of Merit” were found to be keeping dogs in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

AKC or UKC paperwork says nothing about the quality of purebred dogs, as their operations fund high-volume breeding. Papers represent nothing regarding an animal’s care, including a dog’s health, quality, or behavior. They do not even guarantee that the pup or his parents were raised and kept in humane conditions.

Because kennel club registration is dependent on purebred and pedigreed status, pups often develop painful and sometimes fatal genetic conditions due to inbreeding.

Are there any benefits to AKC registration?

The only thing you receive from having your dog registered with the AKC is a piece of paper recognizing your dog’s purebred status and the ability to show your dog at AKC shows. While you will be able to trace your dog’s genetic lineage back for several generations, registration is primarily used as a marketing tool by breeders. It allows breeders to significantly increase the price of the puppies they sell.

Are there any benefits to UKC registration?

The UKC is a less prestigious registry than the AKC, so registration will still increase the sale price of registered puppies, but not as much as AKC registration will. Having your pup registered with the UKC will, however, allow you to enter any competitions held by the UKC.

akc and ukc
AKC and UKC: The Difference

Final thoughts

Unless you’re a breeder or you’re a fanatic about a particular dog breed, it’s not necessary to go through the process of buying or registering a pedigreed dog. Shelters are full of wonderful dogs who “didn’t cut” but make excellent companions. Many times, registered puppies are bred in puppy mills or large-scale breeding operations that have little regard for the health of the animals they’re producing.

If you are intent on purchasing a registered puppy, ensure that you do your research and purchase them from a reputable breeder. Kennel clubs only keep track of bloodlines and paperwork. It’s up to you to ensure your pup is healthy and raised in good condition before you take them home.

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Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.