What Is the Difference Between AKC and ACA?

The AKC, or the American Kennel Club, and the ACA, or American Canine Association, are registers of purebred dog pedigrees that maintain a list of rules that must be followed to register puppies. The AKC is older, more established and focuses on providing resources for owners to find ethical breeders and care for their dogs, while the ACA tracks genetic health and provides other services.

Although the AKC has an excellent reputation among pet owners, in 2013, AKC-approved breeders who allowed dogs to live in unhealthy and unsafe conditions were exposed, prompting criticism from the ASPCA. Some breeders were imprisoned for animal cruelty. The ACA has faced allegations of condoning puppy mills in Australia.

Dog registries are used by breeders to assure potential owners of a puppy’s health and pedigree, sometimes including DNA profiles. Owners also register their dogs to keep records of the name, breed and appearance. Many kennel clubs limit themselves to one breed and focus on genealogy, but others, such as the American Mixed Breed Obedience Registry, register dogs only to record trial and show results. Different registries have different standards; the AKC requires DNA testing on some dogs before classifying them as a purebred. Stricter AKC guidelines in response to criticism and violations have caused some breeders to leave and register with more lenient registries.