A breed registry, also known as a stud book or register, is an official list of animals within a specific breed whose parents are known. Animals are usually registered by their breeders when they are still young. The terms "stud book" and "register" are also used to refer to lists of male animals "standing at stud", that is, those animals actively breeding, as opposed to every known specimen of that breed.
Kennel clubs always maintain registries, either directly or through affiliated breed clubs. Some multi-breed clubs also maintain registries, and there are a few registries that are maintained by other private entities. Working dog organizations also maintain registries.
In a closed stud book, the parents must also be registered in this or another registry for the breed that the organization maintaining the registry will accept (such as that in another country). This ensures that the animal is a purebred member of the breed.
In an open stud book, animals can be registered without their parents having been previously registered. This allows breeders to strengthen breeds by including individuals who conform to the breed standard but are from unknown or undocumented origins. Some horse clubs allow crossbreds who meet specific criteria to be registered.
Another form of open registry in the purebred dog world is a Registry on Merit. In a Registry on Merit any dog that meets certain performance criteria is eligible for inclusion in the registry, regardless of conformation or ancestry. Registry on Merit is prevalent with sheepdog registries, in particular those of the Border Collie, and some other breeds with a heavy emphasis on working ability.
In some registries, breeders may apply for permission to crossbreed other breeds into the line to emphasize certain traits, to keep the breed from extinction or to alleviate problems caused in the breed by inbreeding from a limited set of animals. A related preservation method is backbreeding, used by some equine and canine registries, in which crossbred individuals are mated back to purebreds to eliminate undesirable traits acquired through the crossbreeding.
Show dogs have a registered name, that is, the name under which they are registered as a purebred with the appropriate kennel club, and a call name, which is how their owners talk to them. In working dog registries, the registered name and the call name are usually the same.
The registered name often refers directly or indirectly to the kennel where the dog was bred; kennel clubs often require that the breeder's kennel prefix form the first part of the dog's registered name. For example, all dogs bred at the Gold Mine Kennels would have names that begin with the words "Gold Mine". Many breeders name their puppies sequentially: Litter A, Litter B… in which the names of all the puppies start with the letter "A", then "B" etc. Some breeders include the names of the sire, dam or other forebears in the puppies’ names. A more imaginative breeder at the Gold Mine Kennels might name all the puppies of one litter after precious stones or minerals. The names of all the puppies from another litter might be required to start with "Emerald" or refer to any precious stone that's green. A subsequent litter might contain the adjectives describing precious stones: Gold Mine Sparkle, Gold Mine Brilliance, etc. Breeders may be as creative or as mundane as they wish.
In order to minimize the unwieldiness that long and fancy names can bring, kennel clubs usually limit the total number of characters that may compose the dog’s registered name. Further, breeders are generally not allowed to use any name that may be misleading, such as the word ‘champion’ in a name, a trademark, or anything that can be mistaken for the name of another kennel.
The call name can be anything that the dog's owner prefers. For example, Ch. Gold Mine Emerald's Brightest Sparkle might be called “Goldie’, "Sparky", "Bright", "Green", "Precious", "Gem", or, for that matter, "Fido".
By contrast, dogs in the breed registry of a working dog club (particularly herding dogs) must usually have simple, no-nonsense monikers deemed to be “working dog names” such as “Pal”, “Blackie” or “Ginger”. The naming rules for independent dog clubs vary but are usually similar to those of kennel clubs.
Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail.
Paper and canvas prints of "Growing Up Chinese Shar-Pei" by Barbara Keith are available online.