If you have decided to buy a purebred dog in the United States, AKC papers are critically important to your decision-making process. Your only other alternative to AKC papers, certifying that you are buying a purebred dog, is to have DNA testing on the dog prior to purchasing it. The breeder or owner may not grant this permission.
Most people who buy a purebred puppy do so because they want a particular breed of dog with a particular set of characteristics. They choose the breed because they know something about it, because they know its strengths and limitations, or because they are looking for a dog that will serve a particular function. They know that when the puppy grows up, it will conform to the standards of the breed in terms of looks, temperament, abilities, and genetic defects or health issues.
When people buy a mixed breed puppy there is no guarantee that the puppy will grow up to look like the mother. It may look like the father. (If the owner of the mother does not know who the father was, the buyer is essentially buying a product “blind.”) A mixed breed puppy will inherit genes from both parents, but there is no way of knowing which genes were inherited until the puppy grows up or develops a breed-specific medical issue. Looks, temperament, medical issues, abilities are all unknown. Most of the dogs in shelters are mixed-breeds because the cute little puppy they bought grew up to be a dog they didn’t want.
One way to ensure that you are buying a purebred puppy is to insist upon receiving the AKC papers certifying it is a purebred dog as part of the purchase price. The other way is by DNA testing.
If you are purchasing a puppy for breeding stock, DNA testing will only provide you with the genetic codes for the dog whereas the AKC papers will provide you with the dog’s AKC certified genealogy or pedigree. If your dog has papers, you can look up the parentage or health history from sources such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, or the AKC breed registry. If your dog has AKC papers, you may be able to reach the breeders of the grandparents and great grandparents though AKC affiliated breed clubs.
If you are interested in a purebred dog in order to participate in AKC sponsored events, you will need AKC papers. Dog sports such as conformation (the degree to which a dog conforms to the breed standard that specifies what a dog should look like), obedience, rally, agility, scent trials, herding and so on. There are a wide range of activities for you and your dog sponsored by the AKC. Without papers, you cannot enjoy many of them.
If, after you have bought a puppy, and you find that it did not grow up to look like the breed you thought you were buying, and it has papers, you may appeal to the AKC. If the breeder charges you an extra fee for the AKC papers, you may appeal to the AKC. The AKC maintains the largest database on registered purebred dogs in the United States. If you ever have any questions or concerns about the dog you have purchased, the AKC is the first place to go for help. They cannot help you, however, if your dog is not registered.
There are so many more advantages to owning a purebred dog that there is little reason not to have AKC papers to certify its purebred status.