A purebred dog must be part of a registered litter in order to be registered with the American Kennel Club. The application is filled out jointly with the breeder, an application fee is assessed, and the application is filed. The owner should receive the registration certificate about three weeks later.
There are three registration categories: standard, limited and conditional. Standard registration gives the owner and dog access to all of the services and benefits provided by the AKC. Limited registration means that a given dog is registered, but that subsequent litters produced by that dog are not. Dogs with limited registration can participate in all events except for conformation shows. Conditional registration means that a dog has an unknown ancestor. These dogs are eligible to participate in companion and performance events, but cannot participate in other shows.
For purebred dogs without papers, the AKC offers the Purebred Alternative Listing/Indefinite Listing Privilege, referred to as the PAL/ILP. This designation allows dogs to participate in certain companion and performance events. A dog might be eligible for this designation if it came from a rescue group or shelter.
Benefits of AKC registration include a frameable certificate and the dog's name recorded in the AKC registry, a trial subscription to pet health insurance, a certificate for a veterinary health exam, access to shows and training events, and a new puppy handbook.