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Official Dog Registry Papers for Your German Shepherd

To be sure that your new dog is a bona fide German Shepherd Dog, he needs "papers" — proof of your German Shepherd's pure ancestry. The papers consist of a litter or individual registration certificate issued by a registry. In most cases, the registry is the American Kennel Club (AKC), but German imports are registered with the SV (short for Verein fur Deutsche Schaferhunde — the German Shepherd Club in Germany).

The AKC and the SV are not the only registering bodies. The United Kennel Club (UKC) is also a respected dog registry in the United States, and most developed countries have a national kennel club that registers dogs.

Many countries also have "imposter" registries — small registries that offer to register dogs even if the dogs lack proof of pure breeding. Be wary of dogs registered with one of these unknown organizations (no matter how highfalutin' the registry's name sounds) because they often are no more registered or purebred than you are.

Don't confuse the registration certificate with a pedigree. A dog with a pedigree is not necessarily registered, although a dog registered with a legitimate registry must have a pedigree.

  • Registration papers are the actual documents that record a dog's registration numbers.
  • A pedigree, which lists your dog's family tree, is more often an unofficial document (although you can purchase certified pedigrees through the AKC, and the pedigree is part of the SV registration certificate). To an experienced breeder, it is a history of breeding decisions that can be traced through generations.

All registered German Shepherds have a pedigree as long as your arm; the length of the pedigree doesn't mean that one dog is somehow more pure than another.

Finally, remember that neither AKC nor SV registration is a seal of quality. AKC registration means only that the dog's ancestry is pure and registered (even that can be subject to faking, although DNA testing now makes that more difficult); many AKC-registered dogs are poor examples of their breed. SV registration at least implies that the parents have met certain minimal standards of quality; nonetheless, nothing can guarantee how an individual puppy will turn out.

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