My Maltese Puppy

Everything you want to know and a liitle bit more 

KC Registered, Papers and pedigree puppies -whats it all about?

KC Registered Puppies:
Are "KC Papers" Important?

At some point, if you're talking to an unknowledgeable breeder or a proud new (unknowledgeable) owner, you might hear something like this: "This puppy even comes with KC papers and a pedigree!!"

They expect you to respond with an awed whistle.

Here's a better response: "O yay."


You thought KC registration meant good quality. Nope.

The truth is...

  • The KC will register any puppy whose parents are already registered.
  • The KC registered those parents because their parents were already registered.
  • And the KC registered their parents because...
  • You get the idea.

Registration is a mechanical process, a chain of numbers.

  1. You send the KC money.

  2. If the owners of your puppy's parents and grandparents were all good doobies who kept the chain intact by sending in their own money, the KC will insert your puppy's name into their database, too.

  3. They will send you a piece of paper with a number on it. Voila...she's registered.


Send more money, and the KC will access their database again. It will spit out the names of your puppy's parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, as many generations as you're willing to pay for. Voila -- her pedigree.

That's all a pedigree is -- a list of names.

Registration papers and pedigrees don't tell you a single thing about a dog other than its place in the chain of names.

To get registration papers or a pedigree, a dog doesn't have to meet any qualifications of health, temperament, behavior, or sound structure.

None whatsoever. A dog can be purple, sickly, aggressive, obese, ears pointing every which way -- and the KC will give them the same kind of registration number they give to the Best of Breed winner at the Westminster Kennel Club show.


Don't be fooled. Registration papers don't suggest quality in a dog any more than they suggest quality in a car. Does buying a "registered" car mean it won't be a clunker? Of course not!

In fact, registration papers suggest quality in cars more than in dogs, because in most states a car can only be registered if it has passed a smog check or a mechanical safety check. The KC registers dogs with no health or safety checks at all.

Hopefully you will never again
make the mistake of thinking that the
existence of KC papers or a pedigree
has anything whatsoever to do
with a dog's quality.


Boy, I'm really beginning to feel like the bearer of bad news!

Being purebred has nothing to do with registration papers. Being purebred simply means that a puppy and all of his ancestors going back many generations have the same set of fixed genes.

Fixed genes can be counted on to reproduce traits such as size, coat, color, etc. Having fixed genes is what makes a dog purebred. The presence or absence of registration papers has no effect whatsoever on genes.


It's true. A puppy can have registration papers that are false. Most registries, such as the KC, operate on the honor system. They simply take the breeder's word for it that "King" and "Queen" were really the parents of "Solomon."

But scams happen all the time. Let's say someone has a purebred female Boxer and a purebred male Boxer. Both have registration papers. Unfortunately, the female is accidentally bred by the mixed breed male down the street. When the litter arrives, a dishonest person could fill out the litter registration paperwork -- claiming that his BOXER was the father. The KC will dutifully send him a bunch of individual registration papers for each puppy, which he will happily pass along to the new owners of each puppy. No one will be the wiser until the puppies grow up and start to look suspiciously non-Boxerish.


In the hands of responsible, knowledgeable breeders, oh, yes.

It is extremely important for breeders to check pedigrees to be sure they're not breeding together closely-related dogs. And before they breed two dogs together, responsible breeders check out the temperament, health, and physical build of as many ancestors on the pedigree as they can track down. This information is crucial in deciding how to match up breeding partners.

If you are just looking for a family pet - then no.  

What does it really mean when someone says, "My dog has papers." In some cases, it means they are housebreaking their puppy and have newspapers all over the floor! But, in most cases, they are referring to their dog's registration with the Kennel Club or other registry. Does this mean that their dog is a certified purebred of its breed? You might be surprised with the answer to that question!

So what does all this business about papers and pedigrees mean?

Here's some "Q and A's" that might help explain what getting "papers" for your new pet really means:

What does "having papers" mean? A   "Having papers" means that your puppy is registered with the Kennel Club (KC) The papers you have on your registered puppy mean that the puppy has been reported to the registry as having come from a mother and father that were also registered with that registry. Q  So what is a "registered pedigree?" A   A pedigree simply means that there is record of the ancestry of your dog filed at a registry database. There are lots of places that you can contact to get a record of your puppy's pedigree; however, they all get their information for the research from the Kennel Club Stud Book Registry.Q  Isn't my puppy purebred if I have registration papers from the KC? A   No, it does not necessarily mean that your puppy is a purebred. Unfortunately, there are such things as "puppy mills." These types of breeders have been exposed, time after time, for registering a litter under a father or mother that never actually sired or gave birth to that litter. How do they do this? Well, each time a breeder registers the birth of a litter, the breeder contacts the KC and states, "three boys, two girls in this litter," gives the KC the sire's name and registration number and the dam's name and registration number. The KC sends litter registration forms for each of the puppies. Now, let's say there really were, in fact, only two boys and two girls, or that one of those puppies dies. The breeder now has more litter registration paperwork than is needed, and that breeder can now use the leftover papers to register puppies that either are not purebred puppies, have been bred inline too closely (brother/sister, father/daughter, mother/son), or are from parents that are not KC registered because they could not meet the qualifications for KC registration. It is impossible for the KC to check every litter born to see if the breeder is honest. So, having KC registration papers does not necessarily mean that your puppy is purebred Maltese.