The American Kennel Club got its start in 1884 when Major James M. Taylor and Elliot Smith sent out a request for a meeting to delegates from other dog clubs. The meeting took place on September 17, 1884 in Philadelphia in a room that belonged to the Kennel Club in that city. Twelve dedicated sportsmen were at that first meeting. It was, in essence, the start of a “club of clubs” that would eventually become the American Kennel Club. They set the next meeting in October of that year in Madison Square Garden in New York.
On October 22nd a Constitution and By Laws were adopted and Mr. Taylor became the first President of the American Kennel Club. There were no official headquarters for the club so meetings rotated among several different cities. New York was the main one but meetings were also held in Cincinnati, Boston and Newark, New Jersey. When you think of the difficulties in transportation and the time required to make such trips you realize that this was a very dedicated group of men with most of them being fairly wealthy. There were no women delegates. Indeed, it would take almost 100 years and a change in the by laws before women delegates would be allowed in the Club.
In 1887 a room was rented in New York City at 44 Broadway. It was furnished modestly with a desk, filing cabinet and a couple of chairs. Alfred P. Vrendenburgh became the Secretary and, in 1888, August Belmont, Jr. became the fourth President of the Club. The Belmont / Vrendenburgh relationship was important to the club and their “reign” lasted well into the 2oth century. One of the principle accomplishments during this time was the creation of a reliable Stud book that would list all of the desirable characteristics of winning dogs. These characteristics are still maintained by the Club today and are very important in determining the standard of each breed including the Pug.
August Belmont, Jr. was responsible for launching the American Kennel Club Gazette the following year and guaranteed its success for the next five years by posting $5,000 of his own money to go against any losses that might be incurred. None of the money needed to be touched and the Gazette has not missed an issue in establishing itself as one of the oldest dog publications in existence today. Belmont was a financier and an investor in the Subway system of New York. He built the Belmont Race Track and was an active breeder with Man Of War establishing his legacy in the field of thoroughbred racing.
The American Kennel Club flourished and after 1900 the club created rules for dog shows based on those in England. A point system was created based on the number of dogs in the show. The shows became extremely popular with over 1,000 dogs entered and the rules and point scales went through a series of refinements.
On May 18, 1908 the American Kennel Club was incorporated under a special charter granted by the Legislature of the State of New York. A new Constitution and set of By Laws was approved on January 5, 1909 and new set of Rules Governing Dog Shows was adopted on January 10, 1910. In many cities the creation of dog clubs became a little competitive and the AKC moved to grant territorial protection. In 1911 a new rule gave sole privilege to the member club that had held the first show in a given area.
The AKC continued to grow and become more organized and precise in the rules governing dog shows and breed standards. In 1920 sanctioned matches were begun. These provided very useful training exercises for dog owners and made them aware of correct dog show procedures. This education process is an important part of what the AKC does to this day. In 1924 it was determined that all dogs would be divided into five groups: Group 1 - Sporting Dogs, which included at that time all Hound breeds; Group 2 - Working Dogs; Group 3 - Terriers; Group 4 - Toy Breeds; and Group 5 - Non-Sporting Breeds. Pugs are part of Group 4, the Toy Breed Group. That group includes the Affenpinscher, Australian Silky Terrier, Bichon Frise, Bolognese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested Dog, English Toy Terrier (both black and tan), Griffon Bruxellois, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, King Charles Spaniel, Lowchen, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingnese, Pomeranian, Yorkshire Terrier and, of course, the Pug. These Best of Breed winners in each group were then judged together to determine the best dog in that group and, finally, the five group winners met to decide the best dog in the show. The Westminster Kennel Club was the first show to adopt this grouping to determine the Best in Show winner. A few years later the Hound Group was added.
Rules were added and changed over the years and the authority of the American Kennel Club grew as it took the lead in standardizing almost all areas of dog ownership. In 1919 the Club moved its offices to Park Avenue and then, in 1964, it moved to 51 Madison Avenue in New York City where it occupies several floors.
By 1933 the Club had decided to require licenses of anyone who wanted to exhibit their dogs for a fee. This gave birth to the Professional Handlers Association. Official rules of the AKC were published in the November 1932 issue of the Gazzette and a library was established in 1934. In April 1936, the first official "Regulations and Standard for Obedience Test Field Trials" was published by the AKC. In 1969 a re-vamped and streamlined set of obedience rules was created.
The Club constantly reviews its rules and standards and makes changes to adapt to the changing conditions around them. A red letter day occurred on March 12, 1974 when a motion was approved by a vote of 180-7 to allow women to serve as delegates. The fuel shortages of the 1973-74 prompted the Club to allow all-breed clubs to band together and hold their shows on consecutive days. These “cluster” shows allowed not only a reduction in travel but spread the education process to the local level.
The American Kennel Club not only provides valuable guidance and regulation of breed standards and dog show rules but it is a valuable information resource for all dog owners, breeders and handlers. There are now close to 2 million dogs competing in over 15,000 member, licensed and sanctioned events.
The Toy Group , as we mentioned before, includes some of the most popular breeds such as Chihuahua, Maltese, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Poodle and the Yorkshire Terrier. The Pug is the largest and cutest member of this group. Well, if you want to keep things objective and official, Pugs ARE the largest member of this group but the cutest description is only our opinion. Until someone comes up with a way to scientifically measure the cuteness factor, where Pugs rank in this category can only be subjective. But Pugs are awfully cute! The American Kennel Club is the keeper of the standards for all dog breeds including the adorable Pug.