ADAA was founded in 1979, the year after the first Akbash Dog arrived in the U.S. from Turkey. The mission of the association has been to foster the responsible ownership and breeding of purebred Akbash Dogs and the preservation of those traits which makes it invaluable as a livestock guardian. To that end, a constitution and board of directors was established and studbooks were opened. The ADAA was not only a breed club but also a breed registry. With more than 40 imported Akbash Dogs entering the U.S. from Turkey, primarily in the first decade, the ADAA registration program met a critical need.
In 1998, ADAA accepted an invitation from the United Kennel Club, the second largest canine registration body in the world, for the Akbash Dog to be registered by the UKC and to be eligible for UKC sponsored events and privileges. With UKC maintaining the studbooks, this has left the ADAA free to concentrate on educational programs and events like its Annual Meeting, publications, and identification of eligible dogs for registration through our genetic recovery program, Single Registry. However, the sources of income for ADAA have also been reduced.
ADAA is financed by membership fees, advertising in our publications, income from the Akbash Dog store, and donations. Thanks to our members and to our Friends of Akbash Dogs for their donations to the club.
Why should people join the ADAA?
The Akbash Dog Association of America is the oldest Akbash Dog club in North America; in fact, it is the first and one of the few clubs in the world to have as its goal the support of the Turkish Akbash Dog.
While the Akbash Dog was imported into the U.S. in the 1970s and quickly became established as one of the best of the livestock guardian breeds, its own recognition in Turkey has never been as strong. In the 1990s the Turkish native breeds began to attract more attention in their homeland, and by the late 90s at least one kennel was breeding Akbash Dogs along with other native breeds, like Kangal Dog and Tazi. At that same time, in the area of Turkey considered the heart of Akbash Dog country, the breed declined in number due to several factors, one being a change in agricultural practices and particularly a decrease in sheep production.
What does the ADAA do to help the Akbash Dog?
Education of both our owners and of the general public is and important goal of the ADAA. It tries to achieve this education through programs, such as those given at our annual membership meetings, and publications as well as our club e-mail list. While monthly club columns no longer appear in Bloodlines magazine, the ADAA is always ready to provide information in the form of articles, links, or references to any individual or organization seeking information about our breed.
By forming an organization and staying in touch, we can share information about our dogs, their health, and their training. For example, ADAA breeders have identified entropion, epilepsy, and an increased chance of demodectic mange as probable genetic conditions that have occurred in our breed. By sharing information, we work together for the good of the breed. The club has conducted one breed health survey and plans another.
How important is ADAA’s affiliation with UKC?
In 1997, the UKC invited the Akbash Dog and the ADAA to join them in the world’s second largest dog registry. Shortly after that, Nancy Rix of Ashkabad Kennels (who later took over the care of White Bird kennels) exhibited a mature male to the win the first Akbash Dog UKC championship. That short-coated male proved that working dogs could enjoy the attention of the showring and is shown here with his exhibitor-owner.
What sets UKC apart from other registries and kennel clubs is its emphasis on “the total dog.” As a part of this philosophy, it bans professional handlers in the showring, leaving the sport of showing to the dog owners. UKC and its judges encourage the exhibition of working dogs in the ring and understand the differences in demeanor and grooming one sees between animals maintained as house companions versus working livestock guardians that spend their time on pasture. In fact, UKC and ADAA worked together to provide for those differences in the breed standard. UKC also supports ADAA’s work to increase the gene pool by supporting ADAA's genetic recovery program that allows for the registration of Akbash Dogs from non-UKC registered parents (both domestic and foreign born) and their efforts to build ties with Turkish breeders.
Recognition by the UKC means that we have another national venue in which to show our dogs to the public – the general public as well as judges who may see our dogs in conformation shows.
What is planned for the future of ADAA?
The club is made up of people who share similar goals for the breed. We have a publication for new members and anyone who is interested in our breed. We have a nearly completed Illustrated Breed Standard for owners, breeders, and UKC judges to view. We have a Health Committee who would like assistance in creating a database for the breed; the Show Committee is working to find venues for future National Specialties; the Publications Committee would like more members to help in producing and finding advertisers to finance publications and ads.
But a very important part of the ADAA is the support and camaraderie it offers its members by means of the akbashclub email list. We have new members with new pups, experienced dog owners, trainers who are ready to offer advice, and always humorous stories to be enjoyed by all.