Bo Bengtson At Large

3.4 Million World Registrations

A world total of at least 3.4 million purebred dogs were registered last year. That’s a lot of dogs, and even though the American Kennel Club’s share in the total is shrinking it’s still much larger than anyone else’s: roughly one in every four dog registrations in the world comes courtesy of the AKC. Last year AKC registered 812,452 dogs, a drop of nearly 60,000 from the year before.

These figures do not include the other U.S. dog registries. The most important of those, the United Kennel Club, which used to cooperate with AKC more in the past than seems to be the case today, does not release any figures but claims to be the second-largest dog registry in the U.S.

AKC’s drop in registrations has been addressed several times in this space already. If it continues (last year’s total is the lowest since the mid-1960s), how long will we in the U.S. be able to claim having the largest purebred dog registry in the world?

The figures from the rest of the world, released by the Kennel Club in London and by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale in Brussels, include a few shockers. The biggest registry outside the U.S. is no longer the venerable Kennel Club, founded in 1873, but the Japan Kennel Club, which has been growing fast in the past couple of decades and registered 491,429 dogs last year. The British figures are dropping off slightly, but much less dramatically than AKC’s: 270,706 dogs were registered by the Kennel Club in 2007, compared to 271,922 the year before.

Other countries with six-figure totals include France (178,227), Russia (162,000); Italy (127,710) and Spain (101,980). There are no details from Germany; there it’s the responsibility of the breed clubs, not the national kennel club, to maintain the registries, but it’s safe to say that German total would be at least as big as that of France.

The largest figure from South America comes from Brazil, which registered 91,107 dogs in 2007. All the South American countries and the Caribbean combined, in fact, add up to less than Great Britain’s total, and all of the Americas, including the U.S. as well as Canada’s 71,303 registrations last year, make a total of about 1.25 million, a little less than Europe’s 1.4 million. (That’s if you consider Russia as part of Europe; if you count it as Asian the American and European figures are almost equal, while Asia still doesn’t quite reach a million registrations.)

Eighty-two FCI member countries list annual registrations. Most Americans would have a hard time finding some of these countries on a map, let alone guessing that they have any dog show activity at all. That Serbia registered almost 30,000 purebred dogs last year, and that countries like Belarus and Croatia had registrations in the five figures, should not be a surprise to anyone who follows world dog affairs, but that Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Iceland and Morocco, to pick just a few examples, all had registrations in the thousands for the last recorded year is amazing. Even Cuba, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan had a few hundred annual registrations each.

If we consider Japan as having already “arrived,” the most promising up-and-coming country is probably Russia, where the dog show scene has been explosive since the country became an accepted member of the international dog show community and joined FCI in 1995. There’s also India, which has gone from being nearly inactive to registering over 31,000 dogs last year.

China is particularly interesting: the China Kennel Union became a contract FCI member in 2006 and recorded 18,248 registrations last year. The FCI, of course, does not register any dogs, and we are told that China does not have a registry, so where are these dogs registered? The CKU web site includes a box for “Pedigree information” but no further information. As was announced earlier this year, AKC has offered to assist the Chinese with registration matters, and there is considerable dog show activity outside the FCI member clubs in China.

It comes as something of a shock to realize that Australia — which we tend to think of as “America Down Under” — only registered a little over 64,000 dogs last year. The Australian continent is almost as large as the U.S. but inhabited by only 20 million people, and the number of purebred, registered canines per human capita is actually higher than that in the U.S.

Similarly, the Scandinavian countries, which host some of the biggest shows anywhere and are considered to produce some of the best dogs, have what seems like surprisingly low registration totals: 61,280 for Sweden and 50,058 for Finland, fewer for Norway and Denmark. Again, this has to be compared to the human population: there’s one purebred, registered dog for every 104 people in Finland, 1 in 147 in Sweden, 1 in 224 in the U.K., 1 in 370 in the U.S., 1 in 872 in Russia, 1 in 1,700 in Kazakhstan, 1 in over 2,000 in Brazil, 1 in 65,000 in China and 1 in nearly 94,000 in Pakistan, to take an extreme example. (That a few Muslim countries have any kennel club activity at all is pretty surprising in itself, of course.)

In fact, nearly half of all countries in the world now have some sort of official purebred dog registry, and it’s clear that the appeal of purebred dogs reaches much further today than it did just a few decades ago.

I am indebted to FCI for a lot of the above figures. Much more information is available if you take the trouble to look for it: number of shows held, judges approved and champion titles earned in the various countries, for instance. We may have reason to get back to these later.

It’s a wide world out there, the map is being re-drawn all the time, and it helps to know what happens beyond our borders. Who knows where the center of the dog world will move later in the 21st century — China? India? Eastern Europe? My guess is that, whatever happens, American dogs will still be playing an important part in the world’s dog show scene.

                                                                              Bo Bengtson

                                                                              Editor At Large


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