Last month we were able to report in this space that entries at American Kennel Club conformation shows appear to be on the upswing again — welcome news after the last couple of years of mostly declining figures. It’s too early to predict annual year-end figures, of course, but wouldn’t it be great if we could in fact experience a renaissance of larger, more meaningful breed entries at the shows?
Meanwhile, recent figures released by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale appear to support a feeling of confidence in the future of purebred dogs and conformation shows worldwide as well. The FCI labels itself a World Canine Organization with 86 countries as members or “contract partners,” including most in Europe, Asia and South America. Its influence in the English-speaking countries is less pervasive: neither the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia nor New Zealand are members of the FCI, although all have reciprocal agreements concerning registrations, the approval of judges, etc.
The FCI reports a steady increase in most areas of activity for last year. For instance, 821 shows worldwide (up from 792 in 2009) were officially recognized as FCI international all-breed events. The total number of dogs entered at these shows was 836,119. Whether that’s more or fewer than the previous year is not clear, but it’s interesting to note that the average FCI international show is just a little bigger than the average AKC all-breed show: over a thousand dogs for FCI, about 900 for AKC. Since FCI recognizes 341 breeds, more than twice as many as AKC, competition at the breed level isn’t necessarily stronger, however, although few FCI countries feature all of the eligible breeds, and judges tend to withhold the top awards much more often at FCI events than at AKC dog shows.
The size of the FCI shows also varies much more than AKC’s. Our biggest shows in the US have about 3,500 entries, while the largest FCI show held during 2009 — the World Show in Denmark — had 18,988 dogs entered. Several other FCI shows had between 5,000 and 10,000 entries, but there were others that only had a couple of hundred dogs competing, or even fewer, all depending on location and accessibility — the same as at AKC events.
The highest FCI accolade, the international certificate or CACIB, was awarded to over 100,000 lucky recipients last year. Four of these awards won in at least three separate countries are usually required (there are exceptions) for the FCI to officially recognize a dog as an International Champion. “Only” 6,564 dogs were granted this title. (Still, that’s almost 400 more than in 2009.) A disproportionately high percentage of the new International Champions came from Finland (870), Russia (751) and France (568). The most successful breeds were Poodles with 278 new International Champions, Dachshunds with 259 and Miniature Schnauzers with 162.
The FCI also granted kennel prefixes to the tune of 23,038 new approved names in 2009, about 150 up from the previous year. These new kennel names came from 67 different countries. For the record, FCI is not active in the US beyond its reciprocal agreement with AKC. Various similar-sounding organizations that purport to be “international” kennel clubs in America are not the real thing.
Thank you to those readers who have commented on my editorial about the AKC Breed Tests in the March issue of Dogs in Review. I’m glad to find I’m not alone in finding these tests largely an exercise in futility