The AKC is a Dog Registry. They register purebred dogs from many sources. The Registration indicates that the dog is purported to be purebred but in most cases, no proof is required. (The AKC has started a DNA program which should improve this situation.) There is no implication that a registered dog is “well bred”.
The AKC sponsors many activities for registered dogs. You will find some detail of these activities under “Fun Things” on this website. They also keep records and award titles to dogs who have successfully completed the requirements in many of these competitions. If your Westie is a rescue and you do not have papers for it, you can apply to the AKC for ILP* (Indefinite Listing Privilege) papers. These papers are not expensive and can be obtained in a matter of just a few weeks. They allow your Westie to compete in most areas except Conformation.
If you are looking for dog events in your area, the AKC has a search engine which will help you find them. They also have a section of the web site which will help you find things such as local dog clubs, training clubs, rescues, National clubs and many other things. You will not have wasted your time to spend a couple of hours navigating around the site. A
Effective 2/1/2008, the ILP program is replaced by a new program called PAL, Purebred Alternative Listing. There news release is quoted below:
The American Kennel Club® has announced the enhancement and renaming of its Indefinite Listing Privilege (ILP) program. The name — Purebred Alternative Listing (PAL) program – officially took effect February 1, 2008.
The new name more accurately describes the purpose of the program: allowing dogs that are ineligible for registration but are distinguishable as a member of an AKC registrable breed, to participate in AKC Companion Events, AKC Performance Events and AKC Juniors competition. More recent changes now allow non-purebred dogs to enroll and also participate in these events when the show giving Club agrees to offer it to them.
The ILP/PAL program is designed to address the various reasons a purebred dog might not be eligible for registration: the dog may be from an unregistered litter or have unregistered parents; papers may have been withheld or lost by its owner; or the dog may have been surrendered, lost or abandoned, then adopted by a new owner.
PAL enrollees will receive a copy of Family Dog Magazine, a subscription to AKC’s e-newsletter “Your AKC,” a flyer from the breed’s Parent Club and an attractive certificate denoting their dog’s place in the PAL program. Also included will be information on AKC Pet Healthcare and AKC Companion Animal Recovery enrollment.
“We currently enroll over 3,000 dogs per year in the ILP/PAL program. It is our hope that we can expand this number and the overall appeal of the program by offering added benefits and renaming the program with this more creative and friendly acronym,” said Assistant Vice President of Customer Service, Mari Beth O’Neill. “Welcoming more ILP/PAL dogs to the world of AKC events and privileges can only benefit both dogs and owners by providing educational resources and also exposing them to the joys of competing with your dog.”
Dogs which currently have ILP numbers will retain their original numbers and continue to enter events under that number. PAL numbers were issued beginning February 1, 2008.