The Kennel Club

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The Kennel Club
The kennel club logo.jpeg
Logo of The Kennel Club
Formation1873; 146 years ago (1873)
TypeKennel club
HeadquartersLondon, W1
Region served
United Kingdom
Official language
AffiliationsThe Kennel Club Charitable Trust

The Kennel Club ("KC") is the official kennel club of the United Kingdom. It is the oldest recognised kennel club in the world. Its role is to act as governing body for various canine activities including dog shows, dog agility and working trials. It also operates the national register of pedigree dogs in the United Kingdom and acts as a lobby group on issues involving dogs in the UK. Its headquarters are located on Clarges Street in Mayfair, London, with business offices in Aylesbury.

The Kennel Club registration system divides dogs into seven breed groups. The Kennel Club Groups are: Hound, Working, Terrier, Gundog, Pastoral, Utility and Toy. As of 2011, the Kennel Club recognised 210 breeds of dog.[1] This was increased to 211 breeds with the addition of the Turkish Kangal dog[disambiguation needed] in 2013.[2]

The Kennel Club licenses dog shows throughout the UK but the only dog show actually run by the KC is the Crufts conformation show. The show has been held since 1928 and attracts competitors from all over the world. Crufts is held every March at the NEC, Birmingham. The Kennel Club also holds the dog event Discover Dogs in London every November, featuring the Scruffts dog show for crossbreed and mixed-breed dogs.


Sewallis Shirley, the founder of The Kennel Club.

The Kennel club was founded in 1873 after Sewallis E Shirley became frustrated by trying to organise dog shows without a consistent set of rules to work with. Since the first dog show held in 1859, shows had become increasingly popular during the Victorian era. Shirley is listed as an exhibitor of Fox Terriers at the Birmingham Dog Show Society show in 1865. Together with a group of other gentlemen he organised the First Grand Exhibition of Sporting and Other Dogs held at Crystal Palace in June 1870. The show was not a financial success and the gentlemen of the committee had to make up the loss.[3][4]

This seems to have been the trigger for Shirley calling a meeting with twelve others who had deep seated interests in judging and exhibiting pedigree dogs. The Meeting was held at 2 Albert Mansions, Victoria Street, London, a small flat with only three rooms. All business was conducted from there until a move to Pall Mall in May 1877.[5]

It was decided they would be responsible for publishing a Stud Book and the first volume was published and ready to be distributed in December 1874. It listed pedigrees of dogs competing at shows from 1859 and also included a "Code of Rules for the guidance of Dog Shows and Field trials"[6]

Shirley was appointed as chairman at the first annual general meeting of the KC on 1 December 1874.[6]

The Kennel Club saw particular change under the chairmanship of John MacDougall during the period 1981 to 1996. Among the changes he helped introduce were the revamping of the Club's constitution, the development of the Junior Organisation to encourage youth to participate in the sport of dog showing, and the creation of the library and the charitable trust. It was also under his stewardship that the registration system became computerised.[7]

Charles Cruft, the founder of the Crufts conformation dog show


The first successful annual all-breed dog shows was produced by Charles Cruft in 1891. He produced the Cruft's dog show for fourty-five years, until his death in 1938. His widow, Emma, for four years. She sold it to the Kennel Club because she felt unable to devote the time to running such a large undertaking, and she wanted to perpetuate her husband's legacy. No shows were held during the Second World War. The first Crufts show held by the Kennel Club was in 1948 at Olympia, London. The show was first televised by the BBC in 1950.

The show moved to Earls Court in 1979 where it remained until staging its centenary show in 1991 at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. From originally being a show for the exhibition of purebred dogs, it has expanded over the years and now incorporates most other canine disciplines such as Obedience, Agility, and Flyball.[8]

Discover Dogs/Scruffts[edit]

Initially the Discover Dogs event was staged as a part of Crufts dog show, but as its popularity increased it became a stand-alone event.[citation needed] Established in 1996, it is described as a canine extravaganza and a show-piece event.[by whom?] Discover Dogs gives the public an opportunity to meet representatives of all pedigree dog breeds and chat with breed experts about the suitability of the breed as a pet. It also hosts the Scruffts Family Crossbreed of the Year competition which is a dog show for cross breeds. Mixed-breed dogs can compete in classes like prettiest bitch, handsomest dog, golden oldie and child's best friend.

In 2012, four heats of Scruffts were staged at the Discover Dogs event and the winner of each heat will go forward to compete in a final being held at Crufts 2013 for the first time. Heats of Scruffts are held at canine events throughout the UK in the previous year but only one heat is held in Scotland.[9] It is held over two days at Earls Court, London in November each year and the 2012 event drew a crowd of over 30,000, an increase of ten percent on the previous years attendance figure.[10][11]

The event also includes the semi-finals for the Kennel Gazette Junior Warrant competition, which is a competition for pedigree dogs aged between six and 18 months, the National Junior Handling UK final as well as displays by police dog teams. There are also a large number of trade stalls selling everything for dogs, from treats to beds.[12][13]

Kennel Club Charitable Trust[edit]

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust is a dog charity that looks after the welfare and health of dogs. They fund a wide variety of work, including supporting research into canine diseases, dog welfare organisations and the promotion of service dogs.[14] Set up in 1987, it was first registered with the Charity Commission in May 1988.[15] The Duchess of Cornwall became the first patron of the Trust in October 2007 when it celebrated its twentieth anniversary.[16]

Many donations are made to charitable causes by the KC. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has frequently received donations from the KC and in 2012, a £1.5 million interest free loan was granted to the AHT to enable it to complete the building and equipping of a new animal cancer treatment and research centre at its base in Suffolk.[17][18] The AHT also regularly receives funding to enable work to continue at the Genetics Centre run in conjunction with the KC. The sum of £250,000 was donated to the Genetics Centre in 2010. During 2010 the Kennel Club Charitable Trust had provided almost £800,000 to help non pedigree as well as pedigree organisations.[19]

The Kennel Club Trust also funded a new building at the National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Kenilworth, which was opened by Prince Michael of Kent in February 2009. The facilities are used for various canine related competitions, training, seminars and charity events.[20][21]

Kennel Club Dog Art Gallery[edit]

Richard Ansdell's 1865 painting, The Poacher At Bay

The Kennel Club Dog Art Gallery is located at the club's headquarters at 1 Clarges Street, near Green Park tube station in London.[22] The gallery is devoted to fine art about dogs and features themed exhibitions, as well as a permanent collection. Artists in the collection include Maud Earl, George Earl, Richard Ansdell, Arthur Wardle and Cecil Aldin. The gallery is open only by appointment.

The art gallery opened in 2003 and was the idea of former Kennel Club Chairman John McDougall. The Club had accumulated quite a large collection of canine artwork, including 130 oil paintings,100 works on paper, nearly 100 engravings and prints, the same number of sculptures and trophies. The collection is still being added to. Various exhibitions are held covering a variety of breeds, such as English setters and Gordon setters, Irish setters. To gain more awareness of the collection available at the art gallery, it sometimes stages exhibitions at art and design fairs. Former Kennel Club chairman Ronnie Irving is quoted as saying "The great thing about the Kennel Club Art Gallery is that it's a way of encouraging those people interested in dogs to learn a bit more about art and those people interested in art to do likewise about dogs."[23][24][25][26]

Assured Breeder Scheme[edit]

The Accredited Breeder Scheme was launched in 2004 but was later renamed as the Assured Breeder Scheme (ABS). As the ABS membership grew, a number of regional advisors were recruited to inspect breeders premises and paperwork to ensure adequate standards were being met.[27] Breed specific recommendations were added to some breeds for the first time in January 2010 after consultations with breed clubs.[28]

The scheme was meant to help potential dog owners identify responsible breeders, but has been described by Dogs Trust as "full of pitfalls, the main one being that it's self-certificating".[29] The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare report indicates that the low breeding standards practised by some in the ABS may allow the public to be "falsely led into thinking a puppy they buy from an accredited breeder registered with the KC will have no health or welfare problems associated with its breeding history." It called for more random checks and robust enforcement of the scheme and states that "the use of the word ‘pedigree’ should be tied to a high standard of breeding (for health and welfare) across the board with the KC not just with the few that decide to join the Accredited Breeder Scheme (ABS)."

A Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, one of the breeds featured in Pedigree Dogs Exposed

The report warned that if the health measures implemented by the KC fails, government regulations might be necessary. The Kennel Club has issued a response to the report.[30] Pedigree Dogs Exposed producer Jemima Harrison condemned the KC's response, stating that they are downplaying the criticism of the KC in the report and misrepresenting the findings.[31]

In April 2013 it was announced that the ABS scheme had secured recognition by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). Various changes were made to the scheme to gain accreditation, which included ensuring inspections were made of all new members premises and that those who were already members would be checked within a three year time period. In January 2010 Prof Sir Patrick Bateson had advocated seeking UKAS accreditation in his Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding.[32]

Other programmes[edit]

In February 2013, the Kennel Club launched a programme called "Get Fit With Fido", which encouraged dog owners to lose weight by exercising with their dogs.[33]

Pedigree Dogs Exposed[edit]

The organisation was criticised on the BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed for allowing breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices which are said to compromise the health of purebred dogs.[34] The programme led various sponsors to withdraw their participation in Crufts and the BBC eventually dropped Crufts 2009 from its coverage. The Kennel Club initially defended their practices,[35] and criticised the programme as "highly biased".[36] It also lodged a complaint to regulatory authority Ofcom claiming "unfair treatment and editing".[37]

Due to the strong public response, the Kennel Club started rolling out new health plans. Breed standards for every breed went under review and show judges would be required to choose only healthy dogs.[38] New breed standards were announced in January 2009, and close inbreeding was to be banned.[39]


  1. ^ "KC Breed Standards". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  2. ^ "KC to recognise the Turkish Kangal Dog". Dog World. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  3. ^ Oliver (1998): pp. 27, 28
  4. ^ Foss, Valerie. "Is this the first show winner?". Dog World (newspaper). Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
  5. ^ Sutton (1980): p.3
  6. ^ a b Oliver (1998): p. 28
  7. ^ "John MacDougall". The Times. 2 December 1996. ProQuest 317728175.
  8. ^ "History of Crufts". Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  9. ^ "Join the rough and tumble". Western Daily Press. 15 February 2008. ProQuest 334770441.
  10. ^ Sutherland, Adam (22 October 2000). "Go see....Discover Dogs". The Observer. ProQuest 250385138.
  11. ^ Burrington, Tom. "Discover Dogs". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  12. ^ "Discover Dogs set to move to bigger venue". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  13. ^ "Dog Idol Finalists come to town". Evening Standard. 15 November 2002. ProQuest 329496714.
  14. ^ "The Kennel Club Charitable Trust". Charity Commission. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  15. ^ "Kennel Club Charitable Trust". Charity Commission. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  16. ^ "Camilla takes up patronage". Coventry Telegraph. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  17. ^ "Princess Royal opens AHT's new cancer centre". Dog World. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  18. ^ "HRH The Princess Royal Opens The Kennel Club Cancer Centre at the AHT". Animal Health Trust. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  19. ^ "Changes to health policies". Dog World. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  20. ^ "Prince opens Stoneleigh Park". Coventry Telegraph. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  21. ^ "Stoneleigh centre to stage its first show". Dog World. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  22. ^ "The Art Gallery". The Kennel Club. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  23. ^ Waters, Nick. "English and Gordon Setters at the KC". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  24. ^ Waters, Nick. "New territory for KC gallery". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  25. ^ Waters, Nick. "The dog in art: Irish Setters at the Kennel Club". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  26. ^ Dennison, Matthew (2 December 2009). "Inside a shrine to good breeding". The Times. ProQuest 320347624.
  27. ^ "More ABS regional advisors needed". Dog World. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  28. ^ "Kennel Club makes breed-specific changes to Accredited Breeder Scheme". Dog World newspaper. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  29. ^ RSPCA quits Crufts over controversy surrounding 'deformed' pedigree dogs Times Online, 16 September 2008
  30. ^ "Kennel Club Response to The Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare's (APGAW) Report". The Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  31. ^ "Pedigree Dogs Exposed Filmmaker Speaks About APGAW Report". K9 Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 November 2009. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
  32. ^ "UKAS accreditation for KC's Assured Breeder Scheme". Dog World. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  33. ^ "Kennel Club launches Get Fit With Fido challenge". Retrieved 1 March 2013.
  34. ^ "Pedigree dogs plagued by disease". BBC News. 19 August 2008.
  35. ^ Irving, Ronnie (8 August 2008). "Statement about the forthcoming BBC programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed' – BBC1, Tuesday 19 August, 9pm". The Kennel Club. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009.
  36. ^ Lawless, Jill (18 September 2008). "Kennel club bites back after exposé on show dogs". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
  37. ^ Kennel Club to Lodge a Complaint to Ofcom regarding BBC Programme and Reviews its BBC Contract - The Kennel Club Archived 21 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ Kennel Club changes breeding rules to end cruelty Times Online
  39. ^ Valerie Elliott (14 January 2009). "Healthier new bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl". The Times. London. Retrieved 14 January 2009. New breeding standards have been brought into immediate force after the furore over breeding practices shown on a BBC One documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, last summer. Breeders have until the end of June to lodge any objections

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′24″N 0°08′41″W / 51.5068°N 0.1448°W / 51.5068; -0.1448