The American Kennel Club’s Lopsided Points System and how it is hurting Norwegian Elkhound Competition in California and Arizona
By Margaret Williamson
Ever wondered how the American Kennel Club computes conformation competition points for the purebred dog? All dog show points are based upon the number of dogs that actually show up and compete. 15 points makes a champion. However, out of those 15 points, two shows must be major pointed events. The American Kennel Club divides the geographical area of the United States and Puerto Rico (a U.S. Territory) into Divisions. There are a total of 15 Divisions. Those Divisions are listed below and include in parenthesis the number of Norwegian Elkhounds it takes in Dogs and Bitches to build a 3 point major in each Division.
Division 1 (4/4)
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont
Division 2 (4/4)
Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania
Division 3 (4/4)
District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Division 4 (4/4)
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina
Division 5 (4/4)
Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio
Division 6 (4/4)
Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska
Division 7 (4/5)
Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas
Division 8 (4/4)
Division 9 (7/8)
Division 10 (4/4)
Division 11 (4/4)
Division 12 (4/4)
Division 13 (4/4)
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho
Division 14 (4/4)
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi
Division 15 (5/5)
Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin
The points system for each of these divisions is reviewed annually and adjusted up or down, based upon the number of dogs/bitches that competed in competition the prior year.
For the life of me, I could not figure out WHY, in my home state of California (Division 9) it takes 7 dogs and 8 bitches to make just a 3 point major. Our breed has lost a number of breeders in California, elkhound population is dwindling and show competitors are simply NOT there anymore!
As it stands right now, AKC ranks the Norwegian Elkhound breed as 88th in overall popularity. Building a major of minimum 7 dogs and 8 bitches in California is next to impossible.
I decided to look into this a little deeper, so I called the AKC to inquire about the formula used to compute points in the various divisions and was sent the following:
“Divisions are normally a grouping of adjacent states that share the same schedule of points. However, HI, AK, and PR (because of their geographic isolation) are of a single state or territory.
The calculations only take into account the number of dogs that actually competed (not those that were entered, but marked absent) during the previous year.
In each division, except AK, HI, and PR, the schedule is set according to the following formula, considering the dogs in regular class competition for the previous year.
1. One point-95% of the shows where there was competition carry one or more points for dogs and bitches.
2. Two Points-set at half the difference between the one and three point breaks.
3. Three Points-As close as possible to 18%, but should not exceed 20%, of the shows in a division are to carry major points (3, 4, or 5) for both dogs and bitches. Majors created by Best of Winners, Best of Breed and Best of Opposite are not counted in this calculation and are in effect bonus majors over and above the 18%.
4. Four Points-Set at 2/3 of the difference between the three and five point breaks.
5. Five points-As close as possible to 2% of the shows are to carry 5 points for both dogs and bitches.
Competitions offered by Parent Clubs are not included in the formulation of the points schedule. This includes Parent Club independent specialties as well as Parent Club designated specialties. Breed competition held by any club (all-breed, group, or specialty) within plus/minus three days and fifty miles of the breed's Parent Club national specialty are also excluded from the formulation of the points schedule. Additionally, events held in conjunction with the AKC National Championship show are excluded from the formulation.
Because there are so few shows in Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, we calculate the schedule of points per the above formula, and then adjust to assure a fair and equitable distribution of points that result in similar distribution as the divisions within continental United States.”
I found that understanding this formula was next to impossible, so I decided to dig deeper and take a look at the statistics myself. Both California and Arizona fall into Division 9. I reviewed all qualifying events for both States. The results of my review were shocking, to say the least.
The following is a completed assessment of dogs and bitches entered this past year in specialties and all-breed dog shows in Division 9 which covers California and Arizona.
Current AKC requirement for points in Division 9 for the Norwegian Elkhound are as follows:
1 point - 2 dogs/2 bitches
2 points - 4 dogs/5 bitches
3 points - 7 dogs/8 bitches
4 points - 8 dogs/10 bitches
5 points - 9 dogs/13 bitches
I took a look at 169 events in California and Arizona where elkhounds could have competed in the past year.
THERE WERE NO NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND CLASS MALE DOGS OR BITCHES ENTERED INTO SHOW COMPETITION IN ARIZONA IN 2016.
The breakdowns for California were as follows:
Competition for ONE POINT
11 shows - 2 dogs
2 shows - 3 dogs
Competition for TWO POINTS
6 shows - 4 dogs
3 shows - 5 dogs
3 shows – 6 dogs
Competition for THREE POINTS (MAJOR)
2 shows – 7 dogs
Competition for FOUR POINT MAJOR – NONE IN CALIFORNIA OR ARIZONA
Competition for FIVE POINT MAJOR – NONE IN CALIFORNIA OR ARIZONA
TOTAL SHOWS WHERE DOGS RECEIVED ONE TO THREE POINTS: 27 or 15.9% OF ALL ELIGIBLE SHOWS IN CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA. TOTAL SHOWS WITH 3 POINT MAJORS IN MALES: TWO (2) OR 1% OF ALL SHOW OPPORTUNITIES
Competition for ONE POINT
22 shows - 2 bitches
11 shows - 3 bitches
10 shows - 4 bitches
Competition for TWO POINTS
1 show - 5 bitches
1 shows- 7 bitches
Competition for THREE POINTS (MAJOR)
4 shows - 8 bitches
1 show - 9 bitches
Competition for FOUR POINT MAJOR
2 shows - 11 bitches
2 shows - 13 bitches
1 show - 14 bitches
TOTAL SHOWS WHERE BITCHES RECEIVED POINTS: 55 (32%) OF ALL ELIGIBLE SHOWS IN CALIFORNIA AND ARIZONA. TOTAL SHOWS WITH MAJORS IN BITCHES: 10 SHOWS WHICH EQUATES TO 5% of all events.
FINDINGS: There were NO Norwegian Elkhounds entered into Arizona shows in 2016 and yet, according to the AKC, it still takes 7 males and 8 bitches to make a 3 point major in that State.
In years past, Arizona was a draw for majors. Since combining Arizona with California, the draw is no longer there and the Arizona show giving clubs have suffered declining entries.
This past year, the Norwegian Elkhound was added to the American Kennel Club’s “Low Breed Entry List”. That list can be seen at this hyperlink: http://images.akc.org/pdf/judges/2016_Notice_-_Low_Entry_Breed_List.pdf
If this situation applies to the Norwegian Elkhound breed, it applies to other breeds as well.
It is time for a wakeup call at the AKC and the only way this can be achieved is that it be brought to their attention.
The three specialty clubs in California – the Norwegian Elkhound Association of Northern California, the Sacramento Sierra Norwegian Elkhound Club, the Norwegian Elkhound Association of Southern California as well as the Norwegian Elkhound Association of America, our parent club, need to become vocal and petition the American Kennel Club for needed changes. Otherwise, exhibitors and entrants will cease to exist in this region.
In 2016, the Norwegian Elkhound Club of Southern California held an independent specialty show in Lompoc California and did not garner enough entries to build a 3 point major.
Now, the figures for the 2017 Fresno cluster are out. Of the five events offered (two all-breed shows and three independent specialty shows) exhibitors were able to build a 3 point major with 8 bitches for only two of the three specialties being held. If any of the bitches don’t come for the two Friday shows, the major breaks.
Males entered will have to cross over at the discretion of the judge and go Best of Winners in order to receive a major. If the American Kennel Club had dropped the points requirements to an equitable level like the rest of the State Divisions, there would have been competition for majors all five days.
As has already been pointed out, 3 point majors in the majority of the States require 4 bitches, 4 dogs. If that rule had applied to California/Arizona Division 9, there would have been major opportunities all five days in Fresno.
The Malamute breed is number 54 in popularity. Requirements for the Malamute in Division 9 are 4 dogs, 4 bitches for majors. Doing the same statistical gathering for the Malamute, I found that there were TWENTY-NINE opportunities for majors in Division 9 last year. BIG DIFFERENCE!!
Why are the California specialty clubs penalized for working together to build better attended events for the Norwegian Elkhound in this State, and why do the Arizona clubs suffer the consequences of being aligned with California? This is grossly unfair to our breed and something needs to be done and I am certain this inequity applies to other breeds as well here in Division 9.
Please feel free to comment below. Any suggestiopns on how this can be addressed are most welcome.