They also host a lot of events; like Rally, Agility, or Obedience, in which dogs can compete against each other and earn titles, and Conformation - where dogs are judged against a breed standard.
However, the AKC has never been very friendly towards mutts. (I don't say this as a four letter word, either) Mutts were not allowed to compete against the purebreds for a very long time in AKC sanctioned events. (My guess is simply that the AKC does not want their purebreds to be shown up by a mongrel)
They put in place the Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP, sometimes referred to as Purebred Alternate Listing, or PAL) to allow dogs who looked purebred but came from shelters or rescues, or other situations where papers may not be available to compete in the events (Excluding Conformation). This was a great step in the right direction, since they are after all, touting themselves as 'The Dog's Champion'.
But what about the mutts? The thousands of shelter dogs who also want to compete in Agility, Rally, or show off in Obedience? Are they somehow inferior because of unknown heritage?
Not anymore! The AKC has decided to change their mind about something: let the mutts play! (It is more money for them in the end, after all!)
The mixed breed program originally meant that mixed breeds were allowed to compete - however not directly against the purebreds. Again, once can only assume this must be to protect the dignity of the purebreds themselves. Mixed breeds were to compete in a separate class and earn different titles. Separate, but equal?
After a bit of an outcry, it seems the good folks at the AKC have changed their minds again, and starting April 2010, mixed breed dogs will be allowed to compete at AKC events (excluding Conformation, of course) on the same level as the purebreds.
What does this mean for the casual dog owner? It means nothing is off-limits to you! The AKC is NOT the only organization around to host such events, but they're the most wide spread, and most dog clubs host their events. (You may also want to check out CPE or APDT if you want to give your money to someone who could care less about the breed)
The AKC has hopes that allowing mixed breeds to compete will show people how much fun you can have with a purebred. I say we go out and show them how much fun you can have with your mutt!
I know this little guy is going to be upsetting quite a few of the purebreds this fall.
Here is the link to register your mixed-breed dog for upcoming events, if you feel so inclined. Happy Competing!