Origins of US Registries and Field Trials
By David Michael Duffy
(torn page from OUTDOOR LIFE from B C Boggs collection)
(dated for 1982 because of a binocular ad on the reverse side guaranteeing viewing 50 miles for ten years which expired in 1992)
The American Kennel Club has become the world’s largest and most prominent all-breed registry. But in its earliest years following its founding in 1884 by Major James M Taylor, the AKC did not publish a stud book or register dogs.
Registration of sporting dogs on a systematic and authoritative basis began when a publication, THE CHICAGO FIELD announced a free kennel registry on March 11, 1876, for all dogs used in field sports. Registration notices for the NATIONAL AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB REGISTER were first published in August 26, 1876.
THE CHICAGO FIELD later became THE AMERICAN FIELD, a still very viable Chicago based registry for Pointers and Setters that are field trialed or hunted, which maintains FIELD DOG STUD BOOK which now enjoys status as a weekly bible for bird doggers.
In the American Kennel Club’s third year, Dr Nicholas Rowe, who had founded THE AMERICAN FIELD, generously offered to donate to the AKC the records of his National American Kennel Club. Those records were accepted and acknowledge in 1887. But by the late 1890’s some sportsmen were complaining that AKC wasn’t paying enough attention to the sporting dog interests. This resulted in the birth of the FIELD DOG STUD BOOK in 1900.
Reflecting the constant growth of purebred, registered dogs of all breeds both the AKC and FDSB flourish today. The AKC holds sway over all-breed dog shows and in field trials for retrievers, spaniels and pointing breeds. In the FDSB the emphasis is on field dogs of various breeds and virtually 100 percent of the Pointers and English Setters competing in major field trials in the US are registered with the FDSB, although more trials for various other pointing breeds are conducted under AKC auspices.
The AKC stud book is based in New York City, the FDSB in Chicago. Hunting hounds are registered in several stud books, the most prominent being published by THE CHASE in Lexington, Kentucky, for foxhounds and the UNITED KENNEL CLUB in Kalamazoo, Michigan for coonhounds.
The first public field trial for bird dogs in the US was held near Memphis, Tennessee October 8, 1874. Sponsored by the Tennessee State Sportsmen’s Association, it was won by a Setter named Knight (black) owned by H C Pritchett. Eight other local Pointers and Setters competed. The sport spread from coast to coast and now involves thousands of dogs annually.
The first field trial for Beagles was held near Hyannis, Massachusetts, in November 1890 and the first foxhound trial was run just a year earlier at Albany Hills, Maine. Although coonhound trials were being run in the 1920’s I can find no record of an official starting date. These trials, called Night Hunts are widely held throughout the country, particularly in the South and Midwest. They got started in earnest following WWII.
The first retriever trial licensed by the AKC was held in December 1931 and the first spaniel trial in 1924, both at New York sites. From their eastern beginnings spaniel and retriever trials have become most popular in the Midwest and far West.
The first American dog show in 1877, sponsored by the Westminster Kennel Club, had representation from 35 breeds, and this show continues to be held annually in New York each February.
It took $57 years for the one-=millionth dog to be registered in the AKC’s stud book. But 10 years after that milepost in 1945, the two millionth was marked down and 20 years later AKC registrations had topped 10 million.
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