Kennel Club vs American Kennel Club…

Why are our dogs so different?

Changes to Breed Standards

Now we have social media and google, it is much easier to see dogs bred in other countries than it used
to be. And with that we have become much more aware of the differences in breeds depending on
their registry.

There is much debate among breeders on which breed standard they should follow.
Breeders based in the US tending to work towards such a different look that many of the
breeds are completely unrecognisable in other countries.

The Labrador Retriever

Some of these differences are subtle. For example Labrador Retrievers are supposed to be between
22 and 22 ½ inches at the shoulder in KC. While AKC states they should be between 22 ½ and 24 ½. Just based on these measurements alone, many FCI champions would be disqualified in AKC for being too short. These height differences are explained by many AKC breeders as being necessary due to the different terrain hunting dogs have to deal with in America compared to Europe.

The English Springer Spaniel

Springer Spaniels also have subtle differences, However although they are recognisable as the same
breed they are different enough that most KC Springers wouldn’t do well in AKC, and vice versa. The
AKC Springers have been bred to have a more flashy appearance. They tend to have a higher tail
set and less ticking and roaning than KC Springers. The markings of AKC dogs are much more
uniform, with most having typical Irish Spotting patterns (the white mane, chest and legs that are
common in Collies).

The Standard Poodle

Breed trends also change over the years, and recently Standard Poodles showing in AKC have been
getting bigger and bigger. While FCI has an upper height limit of 62cm (around 24 inches) at the
withers, the AKC has no upper height limit at all. This means a dog that stands at over 26 inches has a
dominating presence in the ring and easily draws the judge’s eye. These giant dogs are gaining
popularity in the AKC ring, to the point FCI poodles are dwarfed by them and can’t stand out as

The Boxer

There are differences in working ability that come with different conformation too. In Boxers, the
AKC breed standard is much more descriptive than the FCI one. However working ability is almost
non-existent in the breed. In contrast, some FCI titles can only be gained once the dog has already
gained some working titles. So many show dogs are working dogs too. American lines are typically
getting very tall and very light-boned, and they are known to lack the drive and bite force necessary
for bite sports. While the FCI dogs are heavier and less refined, they have retained their working

Like the Boxer, the Doberman has also become super-light and elegant in the AKC ring. They are
almost unrecognisable compared to European Dobermans. They are very light boned with long
necks, and tend to lack substance and angulations.

While some owners and breeders do use them for bite sports, they are known for having less working ability and less guard dog traits than their FC counterparts. The colours recognised by the different registries are also different. With AKC and CKC allowing four colours including diluted colours. While in FCI fawn/Isabella was the last colour allowed and the first to be banned, while blue was banned by the FCI in the 90s. The FCI now only allows black and tan, and red rust and tan. The FCI also allows no white hairs or patches, while the AKC and CKC do.

The German Shepherd Dog

Perhaps the most dramatic split in any breed is within the German Shepherd. Not only does the
breed vary from country to country, but there are also splits within the same country. The American
Show line can only be shown in Canada, the US and parts of Mexico. They would not do well in FCI or
KC show rings. On top of that, this show line can also be split into All Breed, which is more moderate, and Specialty which is more extreme.

These AKC lines tend to be larger than the FCI dogs but they also tend to have a weaker drive. In the FCI there are German, East German and Czech working lines which all have slight variation between them. These are different to the FCI showlines as they have straighter backs and little to no bend of stifle.

In Germany, show dogs must have hip and elbow ratings and also IPO titles (bite work) in order to get some show titles. This has helped maintain the working ability of the breed.

In rare cases, the reason the breeds appear different is not completely due to a different interpretation of the same breed standard. Sometimes multiple breeds are combined as one.

The Akita’s

This is especially the case for the Akita. In KC and FCI, the Akita is split into two different breeds, the Akita
Inu (which looks like a large Shiba Inu) and the American Akita (which is what we usually see). As
these are two different breeds, they follow two different standards and look very different to one
another. However AKC only recognises one Akita breed, it doesn’t differentiate between the two
breeds at all. For this reason in the US, Akita almost exclusively refers to the American Akita, and
many owners and breeders wouldn’t recognise an Akita Inu as part of the breed.

The reason dogs of the same breed can look so different between countries can vary, from different
interpretations of the breed standard, to changing trends to varying working ability. Dog breeds are
always changing.

Chances are the conformation we see in different countries today won’t be
the same in ten years’ time from now.

Check out the different breeds at the AKC and the KC UK

A quick explanation on abbreviations:

FCI – the Fédération Cynologique International. Often referred to as a kennel club, it is actually a
collection of kennel clubs but has blanket rules that those clubs agree to follow. Clubs that follow FCI
all follow the same breed standards.
KC – the UK Kennel Club.
AKC – the American Kennel Club.
CKC – the Canadian Kennel Club (sometimes online this can also stand for the Continental Kennel
Club, which is generally held to low standards).

Photo Credits to American Kennel Club and UK Kennel club website

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Kennel Club vs American Kennel Club…
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