Where it all started
The Kennel Club was founded on 4th April 1873 by S.E. Shirley
and twelve other gentlemen. They wanted to have a consistent set of
rules for governing the popular new activities of dog showing and
field trials. It was the first national Kennel Club in the world.
The Kennel Club's first home was a three-room flat at 2 Albert
Mansions, Victoria Street, London and since then, we have moved
house ten times.
Victorian dog culture
The Victorian love of both dogs and hobbies meant that dog
showing and activities became very popular in the 19th Century. The
first conformation Dog Show was held in the Town Hall,
Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1859 and the next 14 years saw explosive
growth in this new and fashionable hobby. The first organised Field
Trial took place at Southill in 1865 and this sport also gained a
large following. Whilst Field Trials were very much for the country
gent, Dog Shows were an urban activity, accessible to people of all
classes and popular both with exhibitors and spectators.
The need for a Kennel Club
The founders of the Kennel Club wanted to ensure that all Dog
Shows and Field Trials were run fairly and honestly and with the
welfare of the dogs in mind so they set up the Kennel Club to
govern these events nationwide. In 1874, the first Kennel Club Stud
Book was published. It listed the results of all Dog Shows and
Field Trials since 1859 and included sets of rules for running Dog
Shows and Field Trials. A Kennel Club Stud Book has been published
every year since and provides a record of results for all
Championship Dog Shows, Field Trials and other dog activities, such
as Obedience and Agility.
Another important task for the newly-formed Kennel Club to
undertake was to have a register of dogs so they could be
identified properly. In 1880, the first monthly register of dog
names was printed in the very first issue of the Kennel Gazette.
These registration records ensured that each dog could be uniquely
identified and, over the years, have provided the source of
pedigree information for every dog on the Kennel Club's breed
registers. Nowadays, over 200,000 dogs are registered with the
Kennel Club each year.
Dog health and welfare
As well as ensuring that dog shows and other events were
properly managed, the Kennel Club was also concerned with the
health of dogs. Of the ten rules for running a dog show published
in the very first Stud Book, two are concerned with health, stating
that a veterinary inspector should be present at shows with over
200 entries and that dogs must be withdrawn from the show if they
have any contagious disease. H.R.H The Prince of Wales (later H.M.
Edward VII) was the Kennel Club's first patron and was a staunch
supporter of the movement to prevent the cropping of dogs'
Since 1949, the Kennel Club has been investing in veterinary and
scientific research projects to ensure the improved health and
welfare of dogs. Modern health testing began to be developed in
conjunction with the BVA in the 1960s and now the Kennel Club
manages testing schemes and publishes test results for a whole
range of inherited conditions.
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, founded in 1985, gives
numerous donations to projects such as canine rescue and dogs for
the disabled, and supports research into canine diseases.
In 2004 the Kennel Club created an educational resource at the
Animal Health Trust to aid education of breeders and owners on the
genetic health of dogs. The Animal Health Trust now hosts the
Kennel Club Genetics Centre and the Kennel Club Cancer Centre.
As dog showing became more and more popular, the Kennel Club
needed to ensure that the number of shows held was kept under
control and that high standards could be maintained. So, in 1900 a
system of show licences was developed with each show management
undertaking a guarantee to hold the show under strict Kennel Club
In 1939 the Kennel Club acquired the world-famous Crufts dog
show (founded 1891) following the death of its founder, Charles
Cruft. Since that time, Crufts has been the Kennel Club's flagship
event and is the biggest dog show in the world. Nowadays, the
Kennel Club licences over 4,000 dog shows and events every
The very first sport recognised by the Kennel Club was the sport
of Field Trials which tests the skills of working gundogs. Other
working dogs also got to show off their skills and be rewarded at
competition with the development of the disciplines of Working
Trials (1920s), Obedience (1950s) and Agility (1970s) all of which
are governed by the Kennel Club. Since the 1990s, both Flyball and
Heelwork to Music have become hugely popular with the British
public and the new disciplines of Cani-Cross and Rally are gaining
a dedicated following.
Dogs in society
Although Kennel Club was originally concerned just with
pure-bred dogs, dog shows and trials, the Kennel Club now
represents the interests of all responsible dog owners to ensure
that dogs are welcome throughout society. In 1988, the Kennel
Club published the Canine Code and in 1992 the Good Citizen Dog
Scheme was set up to promote responsible dog ownership, to enhance
our relationship with our pets and to make the community aware of
the benefits associated with dog ownership. Nationwide, the
Companion Dog Club provides fun and competition for all dogs and
dog owners, and, since 2000, the national Scruffs competition has
celebrated cross-breed dogs.
The Young Kennel Club was established in 1985 to help young
dog lovers aged between 6-24 years learn new skills, build
confidence and make new friends. Today, the YKC makes sure that our
future dog owners, exhibitors, trainers and judges are ready to
take on the challenge of making sure that all dogs get to live
happy, healthy lives with responsible owners