Limited AKC Registration vs Full AKC Registration

Limited AKC Registration vs Full AKC Registration

The American Kennel Club, or AKC, is an organization known for registering dogs. The body is considered to be the largest purebred dog registry in the world. It has over 5,000 licensed and member clubs apart from the affiliated organizations. A question most breeders have is what are the differences between a limited AKC registration and a full AKC registration.

The American Kennel Club is responsible for advocating purebred dogs as family companions and purposeful dogs. The organization and its multiple arms advise on canine health, breeding practices, and well-being. They also work towards protecting the rights of the dog owners. The kennel club of America also promotes responsible dog ownership.

In this article, we will be discussing the limited and full AKC registrations, knowing in details about the significance of each and finding out whether it is possible to update a limited registration to a full one.

What is a Limited AKC Registration?

For the American Kennel Club, a Limited Registration implies that the dog is registered but the litters produced by that dog are not eligible for registration. This registration is required to be applied for by the dog owner with the application containing the request for such a limitation. Once registered, the offspring of the dog will not be open for further registration.

Every registration certificate of such a dog will continue to carry the notice of the limitation, which will automatically be carried forward. There will be no change in this registration even with a change in ownership unless the owner of the litter, right at birth, applies to the AKC for the removal of such limitation. The Limited Registration certificate comes in white with an orange border.

The American Kennel Club’s Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline states in Chapter 3, Section 4A:

Limited Registration may be requested for a dog when application for individual registration of the dog is submitted, provided the application, together with a request for such limitation, is filed by the owner(s) of the litter at birth. No offspring of a dog for which Limited Registration has been granted is eligible for registration. Each registration certificate for such dog shall carry notice of the limitation, and the limitation shall continue, regardless of any change of ownership, unless and until the owner(s) of the litter at birth shall apply to AKC for removal of the limitation.

The term “owner(s)” in this section means all of the owners of the litter at birth. Thus, all owners of the litter must agree to both the imposition and the removal of the limited designation. If the owners disagree on whether there shall be full or limited registration, in the absence of any written agreement to the contrary, the dog will receive full registration.

Only when the entire litter has been initially individually registered by the owners of the litter at birth through the Full Litter Registration, the Limited Registration for any dog in that litter may be requested by those owners at the time of the first transfer of that dog.

There is a history behind the emergence of this limited registration system by AKC. It was found by the organization that breeders were withholding the registration papers for puppies that were sent to non-breeding homes. When the new owners, who ultimately went ahead and decided to breed their dogs, anyway, applied to the AKC for new papers, they realized that the dog continued to be registered in the breeder’s name. This was not a case of fraudulence but a simple attempt by the dog owners to protect the breed as well as the breeding lines against backyard breeding. This is also clearly stated by the AKC on their website:

Limited Registration helps breeders protect their breeding programs. If breeders do not want puppies used for breeding purposes, they can request the option for those puppies.

In view of this, the AKC introduced the Limited Registration papers to help breeders sell non-breeding dogs to the public.

full AKC certificate and a limited AKC certificate
A look at both a full AKC certificate and a limited AKC certificate.

Dogs sold on AKC limited registration can still be bred, and their offspring can still be registered with a number of other registries. This, in fact, is becoming quite common, as fewer and fewer dogs are sold with full registration. The end result is fewer dogs with AKC registration and the diminishing of the AKC overall.

The AKC limited registration is practically worthless for a dog. It doesn’t allow the dog to be shown in any AKC shows, and it can’t be carried on to the next generation. It is essentially the same as a breeder withholding the registration, except it still costs money. Because it is of little use, most people now don’t even bother sending in the registration form to the AKC, and total registrations are way down.

What is a Full AKC Registration?

For the American Kennel Club, full registration is a registration certificate for owners who breed stock dogs and dogs that are actively participating in dog shows. Full registration is required only by the breeders. Therefore, dog owners who are not actively involved in dog breeding do not need to worry about a full registration certificate.

The American Kennel Club’s Rules Applying to Registration and Discipline states in Chapter 3, Section 4:

No individual dog from a litter whelped in the United States of America of which both parents are registered with The American Kennel Club shall be eligible for registration unless the litter has first been registered by the person who owned the dam at the time of whelping, or by the lessee if the dam was leased at the time of whelping, and, further, that an application to register such litter is filed with The American Kennel Club no later than six months from the date of whelping of the litter.

The full registration by the AKC comes in white with a purple border. With this, owners can take their dogs to shows and events and also be actively involved in breeding their pups.

Full registration has become a relatively rare thing, with breeders routinely selling entire litters on limited registration. As a result, it has become a price point, with a puppy being sold with full registration for as much as twice the price of the same puppy with limited registration. This adds an even higher barrier to a business where the barriers are already too high and encourage more people to breed outside the system or using alternative registries which don’t have nearly as good of oversight.

As a whole, the difficulty of finding great full registration dogs diminishes the quality of breeding. It reduces the number of quality dogs available. That, in turn, drives up the cost of AKC dogs and makes it even harder for AKC breeders. As you can see, it is creating a vicious cycle which could eventually destroy the AKC and many good breeders.

In 2017, the AKC considered the elimination of limited registration for these and other reasons. They were put off at the time by negative responses, but the problem will not go away, and if they are smart, the leadership of the AKC will eventually eliminate this option and use official policy to strongly encourage breeders to provide registrations with the puppies they sell. Otherwise, it will eventually mean the end of the AKC, as AKC breeders leave or die out, leaving nobody to take their place, because breeding AKC dogs got too expensive and tied up in red tape for new, young breeders to get started.

Limited AKC Registration vs. Full AKC Registration

The basic difference between an AKC limited registration and a full AKC registration is that the former is meant for non-breeders while the latter is for professional breeders. If the dogs with limited registration are bred, then their puppies cannot be registered. Full registration costs are typically higher than that of limited registration.

The breeder or the owner decides as to whether they will go for limited registration or a full one. The limited one is for puppies that are not considered for their breeding quality but accepted more as a member of the family. In fact, the limited registration is only applicable for individual puppies, all of who needs to be registered separately. A full registration, on the other hand, is available for approved breeding homes only and available for the entire litter.

Puppies with limited AKC registration can compete and participate in the AKC sponsored events and shows like tracking, field trials, herding, lure coursing, obedience, etc.

The process of applying for both is similar. AKC has different application forms for the two different types of registration processes and dog owners have to fill the forms, along with the necessary details required in each.

There are no costs involved with full, versus limited registration. If a breeder charges more money for full registration, it is because they want to, not because it costs the breeder anything.

Upgrading a Limited AKC Registration to a Full Registration

According to The American Kennel Club, litter owners are eligible for changing their limited registration to a full one through a specific form called the Application to Revoke Limited Status. It is a form that has to be completed and sent to the AKC office accompanied by a processing fee that may vary. Once processed, the AKC will send the full registration certification to the owner of the dogs.

The costs of upgrading from a limited registration to a full registration can amount to between $100 and $300. The price typically varies depending upon the bloodlines of the litter.

Although the AKC stays away from disputes related to limited or full registration, there is an exception where the body has a say in the matter. This is when there is a contract that has been signed by all the parties right at the time of the dog sale, stipulating the registration status. It is only in these matters that the AKC can set up an inquiry in its own rights.

The AKC does not endorse or formally license anyone engaged in the commercial selling of purebred dogs. As such, the organization cannot actively control the business practices of such kind or even those involved in such transactions. Also, no individual member can be a part of the AKC. The American Kennel Club is comprised of only independent dog clubs based out of the entire US.

Thanks to Ethan Lamoreaux for a lot of precisions we added to this article in January 2019.