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Organizations - AKC, UKC, HRC, NAHRA

What each organizations means to the YWHRC member

Yankee Waterfowl Hunting Retriever Club members are familiar with several clubs known as the AKC, UKC, HRC, and NAHRA. These are acronyms of course, which stand for the American Kennel Club, United Kennel Club, Hunting Retriever Club, and North American Hunting Retriever Association, respectively. Each of these clubs share a common theme in that they are used as registries for dogs. The purpose of such registries, therefore, is to promote the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function.
Now let us take a glimpse into each of these four organizations. For each is similar and yet different. The AKC was founded in 1884 by several breed clubs that pledged "to do everything to advance the study, breeding, exhibiting, running, and maintenance of purity of thoroughbred dogs." The AKC has strict standards for the retriever. Over time the organization has evolved and today provides coverage on all accepted dog breeds, as well as information on registration, pedigrees, dog shows, and field trial events. The AKC places an emphasis on breed conformity and genetics. There is a multitude of information regarding breeding, judging, showing for conformation, or participating in field trails or hunt tests, all of which are activities that a YWHRC members are involved in. One of the more popular pastimes for YWHRC members is to train with their retriever for the ever sought after hunt test titles. YWHRC holds monthly trainings where careful detail is taken to ensure that sessions are structured to what one would find when participating in an actual test.
The UKC was established in 1898, and is the largest all breed performance dog registry in the world; having registered dogs from all 50 states and 25 foreign countries. Interestingly, more than 60 percent of the UKC's 16,000 annual events are tests of hunting ability, training and instinct. The UKC prides itself on being family oriented, friendly, and having educational events. The UKC focuses on the breed purity and performance with an emphasis on working. Here too, the YWHRC member can strive for passing a hunt test to gain titles for their working retriever. The major difference for the YWHRC member to be concerned with is that the hunt tests are different from that of an AKC test. Some would argue that the AKC hunt tests became a bit too "out of touch" with actual hunting scenarios. UKC hunt tests are designed to be more closely realistic to what the hunter and his retriever would experience while out in the field.
"Conceived by Hunters for Hunters." This is both the founding philosophy and the reality of NAHRA and HRC. The founding events and history of NAHRA and HRC are quite interesting. Around 1983, two writers, Bill Tarrant and Dick Wolters, wrote respective articles for magazines which stated that the existing Field Trials for retrievers were unrealistic and pushed the dogs beyond what was required of them during an average day in the field. They wrote articles to bring attention to the fact that people needed a program which did not judge dogs against each other, but which gave hunters the chance to test their dogs in realistic hunting conditions against a standardized and structured test. After much discussion, meetings and planning, the name North America Hunting Retriever Association was adopted. NAHRA initially was developed with the UKC, as the AKC was uninterested. However, over time AKC gradually became more interested as it watched the NAHRA growing in popularity. Having once turned its nose to NAHRA, the AKC made several offers to NAHRA which led to a change and NAHRA left UKC to become affiliated with the AKC. Unfortunately for the UKC, the pursuit of a sport that focused on the realism for the hunting retriever had slipped away. The desire to create true to life scenarios that would test the retriever working ability that had been carefully planed and outlined had simply gone. Or so it seemed.
That is until after NAHRA joined with AKC, Bill Tarrant wrote yet another article in Field and Stream Magazine called "Retriever Trials for Hunters" which discussed the ideas behind the original UKC/NAHRA program. Another meeting was held at UKC which led to the Hunting Retriever Club. The HRC was officially formed and named at that very meeting. Since 1984, HRC has grown to 116 Clubs with over 8,000 members because of a number of great distinctions of the HRC from any other hunting dog organization. Specifically, the tests are true hunting scenarios. The handler actually uses the gun and the Judges are qualified HRC members who own, have trained, and passed their dog in the level that they are judging. Interestingly, NAHRA and AKC later split up. NAHRA is now no longer affiliated with any national dog registry today but continues run its own tests.
The above mentioned organizations are important for YWHRC members to become familiar with. For each presents its own alternative core value that enhances the sportsman or sportswoman as a conservationist. Namely, breed standard, function as a working dog, temperament, and trainability. With these values in hand we can now take to the field and put them into action. After all, the origination history reflects the history of our retriever. Each YWHRC member, therefore, is a proud representation of a larger organization. This of course is best demonstrated by the magnificence of your retriever!!!