According to the American Kennel Club, there are 187 dog breeds in the United States. From time to time, after meeting a stringent set of guidelines, new breeds are accepted into the club. The latest breeds to be recognized are the Sloughi and the American Hairless Terrier.
The first step in developing and registering a new breed of dog is to apply for membership to the Foundation Stock Service (FSS). This service maintains pedigrees and a studbook for new breeds, and allows member breeds to compete in performance events. The application requires a full history of the breed as well as a written breed standard and photographs of dogs from puppyhood to adult. Breeds must not be a variation of a currently registered breed (such as a different coat or color) and they must be recognized by an acceptable registry either in the United States or overseas.
When a breed is accepted into the FFS, fanciers then have some work to do before full registration is granted. A national breed club needs to be formed, with 100 active households needed before registration with the AKC will even be considered. Ideally, other committees such as health committees and rescue committees will be formed, and a breed newsletter will be published. Membership in the FSS doesn't automatically lead to AKC registration; some breeds meet the requirements of the FSS but don't quite tick all of the boxes for the AKC.
For a new breed then to obtain registration in the miscellaneous class of the AKC, there must at least be 150 dogs of that breed with three generation pedigrees. These dogs must have different pet parents in different parts of the United States. There must also be an active breed club. The purpose of these requirements is to make sure there is a good foundation for a breed that will persist into the future, and there are people willing to put the effort into developing and promoting the breed.
New breeds usually remain in the miscellaneous class for one to three years, but under certain circumstances, they may be only in this class for six months. During this time, the number of dogs registered with the FSS should increase to 300 to 400 individuals, and their pet parents should participate in AKC events such as conformation shows. The breed club should continue to be active with seminars, shows, and educational programs.
When all these criteria are met, an application can be made for the breed to be granted full recognition. If this occurs, then the breed is moved into the most appropriate group. For example, the American Hairless Terrier has joined the terrier group and the Sloughi, being a sighthound, has joined the hound group.
Registering a new breed relies on the time, hard work, and sacrifice of lovers of the breed. It takes a long time; there are many things that need to be done. However, it's very much a labor of love and for the breed supporters, full registration with the AKC ensures the future of the breed in the United States and perhaps even around the world.