The History of the Miscellaneous Class

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The Miscellaneous Class is usually considered a side note to AKC history. In reality, the evolution of this class typified AKC’s approach to creating its interpretation of an orderly, structured dog world.

Early dog shows were limited to gundogs but clubs quickly realized that a wide variety of classes lured exhibitors and the paying public. In no time, this resulted in a chaotic avalanche of arbitrarily designated classes for every imaginable breed. No one knew quite where to draw the line, including offering classes for trick dogs, edible dogs and stuffed dogs. It was customary to provide trophies and cash prizes for all winners and each additional class added to the club’s workload and expense. “Where there is poor prospect of entries for certain breeds, either put one or two affiliated breeds together or drop them and let the miscellaneous class suffice.” (The Dog Book)

The preferred solution was to designate classes based on a breed’s popularity, resulting in multiple classes for some, none for others. Many were lumped into highly unpopular combined classes, such as “field spaniels of any breed,” Gordon and Irish Setters and “Toy terriers other than Yorkshire.” Problems intensified as the number of breeds, varieties, exhibitors, shows and classes grew exponentially. From the outset, intolerance toward lesser-known breeds was accepted as part of this arrangement.

“As fast as old established breeds are losing their identity through ill chosen outcrosses new breeds are being produced, many of which, being the product of parents belonging to widely differing groups, present characteristics which are not easily catered for in the present system of classification. It is unfortunate that each group of the canine race is able to breed freely with members of opposing groups; thus we have the evil of rapidly declining group character and a new flood of breeds which could not be included in the Hound, Spaniel, Terrier, Greyhound, Mastiff, or Spitz, or even the Sheepdog groups. For these aberrant (albeit purebred) varieties a separate group might be formed, although it is scarcely scientific to allot separate classes for miscellaneous oddments.” (Dogs in Britain)

The Kennel Club resolved this by creating the Foreign Dog Class, although technically not limited to foreign dogs. It included breeds that are now extremely popular and some that are extinct. There were no rigid requirements for this designation and it was up to the Kennel Club to decide if or when a breed merited separate classes.  “The Kennel Club groups under this heading several breeds of Foreign Dogs other than those which by long sojourn in England and the extensive breeding and propagation to which they have been subjected in this country have become nationalized, as it were, and recognized as British. The breeds relegated to the Foreign Dog group, however, by no means exhaust the number of Foreign Dogs, whose names are legion, nor even those familiar to the English show bench.” (Show Dogs)

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