In 1884 the initial meeting to form a definitive body to be over all kennel clubs in America took place. It was held in the Philadelphia Kennel Club and was called by a J.M. Taylor and Elliot Smith and attended by twelve representative delegates from all dog clubs in the US that had recently held shows or field trials. In said meetings the American Kennel Club was started. Dr. N Rowe in 1887 donated the first three volumes of his stud registry that he started in 1878 which became the American Kennel Club Stud Book with the introduction of a fourth volume.
In October of this same year a meeting was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was here that the formation of the organization took place and James M. Taylor was elected as the first AKC kennel club president.
In 1887 the AKC rented permanent space on Broadway in New York and the AKC now had a home. In 1889 the Gazette was started and remains to date one of the oldest dog magazines in the world.
During the early 1900s the organization continued to grow and by 1923 the show rules were established that grouped the dogs in all purebred categories into the following;
Group 1 – Sporting Group
Group 2 – Working Dogs
Group 3 – Terriers
Group 4 – Toy Breeds
Group 5 – Non-Sporting Group
The best in each category would then be judged for a Best in Show award. In 1924 the Westminster Kennel Club was the first to use this format for a judged show. In the last part of the 1920s a sixth group was added to include Hounds.
Through the decades to come the American Kennel Club continued to make improvements to shows, obedience trials and field trials. In 1980 they founded the Dog Museum of America on Madison Avenue and moved it to its present location in St. Louis, Missouri five years later changing the name to The American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog.
In 1983 the working group was split and a new group the Herding group was formed.
In the 1990s new trials and tests were added to the events that the AKC sponsors like; Earthdog tests, herding tests and lure coursing. dog agility were added four years later and a year after that the Canine Good Citizens program. In 1998 these along with obedience and tracking were added to a new division and field trials, coonhound events, hunting certification, herding, lure coursing, and Earthdog were grouped into the Performance Division.
The AKC continues to be the governing body over most dog shows and trials and is specifically an American dog club. They are constantly expanding their events to include more dogs than just purebred and have a miscellaneous group for all types of dogs that are mixed breeds. They are equally active in helping and forming canine health organizations. You do not need to own a purebred show dog to be associated with the AKC. You just have to love dogs.