The club’s new initiative, the "Breeder of Merit" program, is to officially recognize breeders who are committed to improving their breed through health testing and selective breeding programs, and to prove their breed by achieving in the show ring. Breeders who win the award should therefore be considered as role models for new breeders.
"The Breeder of Merit program allows the American Kennel Club to celebrate our dedicated, passionate breeders who truly are the backbone of the sport and the foundation of our organization. Being a successful breeder in the Fancy does not come easy. Years of hard work, vision, and a willingness to do the right thing are required to be successful. Our Breeders of Merit have these qualities and deserve to be recognized," said AKC’s Chief Operating Officer John Lyons.
The AKC specifies that in order to attain the "Breeder of Merit" designation, breeders must certify that applicable health screens are performed on the sire and dam as recommended by the Parent Club. They must also hold membership in an AKC club, have a history of at least 5 years involvement with AKC events and earn Conformation, Companion and/or Performance titles on at least 4 dogs they have bred/co-bred. In addition, they should commit to ensuring that 100% of the puppies they produce are AKC registered.
When a breeder is awarded the "Breeder of Merit" designation, they will enjoy benefits including complimentary access to $20 value per month to free online reports, access to a toll-free AKC Direct number, a frameable certificate of distinction, free online classifieds listings, a Breeder of Merit lapel pin, a Breeder of Merit designation and gold border on registration applications and certificates for dogs bred by the Breeder of Merit.