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Alphabet Soup: What the Heck Are All Those Letters at the End of That Dog's Name???

Have you ever been confused about why some dogs seem to have a really long, fancy name? Or what all those letters mean before and after a dog's name?

Here's a quick and dirty run down of Registration & Titles!

Registration: When dog's are registered with a kennel club- such as the American Kennel Club (AKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), or any other club- the dogs are required to be given a "registered name." Can you imagine if all the dogs called "Scarlett" were all just signed up that way in the AKC's database?? It would be so hard to tell them apart! This is where registered names come in. Registered names often include the kennel name of the breeder where the dog came from, followed by a short phrase or word that might either fit a certain theme (some breeders will have themed litters where all the registered names relate to a movie, tv show, or other topic), start with a specific letter (some breeders will require all the registered names of a litter to start with the same letter to easily identify which dogs came from which litter), or just have to do with the dog's personality. or example with my Golden Retriever, Chester. His registered name is Tahnee's Howl At That Moon, Tahnee being his breeder's kennel name. This makes it easy to identify where dogs came from and keep track of pedigrees. When it comes to breeding dogs, this is important to ensure you're not accidentally breeding together dogs who are related!

"But what about rescue dogs, who don't have a known lineage," you ask? Well, first of all, yes you can register mixed breed dogs with many kennel clubs! The AKC, for example, introduced their Canine Partners program many years ago to allow mixed breeds to register with them in order to compete in AKC sanctioned performance events- agility, obedience, scent work, and more. Mixed breeds must be spayed or neutered, and have a microchip in order to be enrolled in the Canine Partners program. Owners then have complete free reign over picking their dog's registered name!

For my two rescue dogs, Finley & Scarlett, we just used our nickname for them in place of a kennel name. We always referred to them as the "Mystery Mutt Butts," since we didn't know (until recently thanks to Embark!) what exactly their breeds were, so their registered names start with MMB. Finley is MMB's Wayward Son and Scarlett is MMB's Monster Magnet.

The short, everyday names we use for our dogs- such as "Chester," "Scarlett," "Finley," etc- is what we refer to as their Call Name. It's what we actually call our dogs!

"Okay, okay. I think I'm getting it now. But what about all the letters before and after their names???"

All those little acronyms at the end of a dog's name relate to titles the dogs have earned in certain sports and organizations. Here are some common ones:

CGC/CGCA/CGCU : Canine Good Citizen program with the AKC

TKN/TKI/TKA/TKP/TKE : Trick Dog Titles with the AKC

CD/CDX/UD/UDX : AKC Competition Obedience Titles

RN/RA/RE/RAE : AKC Rally Obedience Titles

RAT-N/RAT-O/RAT-S/RAT-M : Barn Hunt Titles

ORT/NW1/NW2/NW3 : National Association of Canine Scent Work Titles


CA/CAX : AKC Coursing Ability Test Titles

NTD/ITD/ATD/ETD : Do More With Your Dog Trick Dog Titles

HT/PT/HS/HI/HX : AKC Herding Titles

SWN/SWNE/SWA/SWAE : AKC Scent Work Titles



DN/DJ/DS/DM/DE : National Association of Dock Diving Distance Titles

This is, of course, just a sampling- there are a wide variety of titles available for all sports in all different organizations and kennel clubs!

"How come some letters come before the dog's name and some come after?"

Just like with the letters that come after a dog's name correspond to different titles earned in different sports, letters that come before a dog's name also correspond to different titles. You may notice that the acronyms before a dog's name likely contain "Ch" somewhere- that's because titles that come in front of a dog's name correspond to Championship titles. These high level titles are a huge achievement, and deserve to be celebrated!

Some common ones are:

TDCH: Do More With Your Dog Trick Dog Champion Title

MACH: AKC Master Agility Champion Title

PACH: Preferred Agility Champion Title

AGCH: Agility Grand Champion Title

NAC: National Agility Champion

CH: AKC Conformation Champion Title

GCH: AKC Conformation Grand Champion Title

HC: Herding Champion

NOC: National Obedience Champion

OTCH: Obedience Trial Champion

RACH: AKC Rally Obedience Champion

Again, this is a non-exhaustive list as there are lots of other champion titles for different sports and different organizations.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the crazy, varied, exciting world of dog sports and the achievements you can earn with your dog! Yes, you! Don't think your dog can do it? Well, I beg to differ. There's a sport for all dogs, all handlers, and all skill levels! Dog sports are a great way to build a better bond with your dog, and ensure that you continue training your dog for life. After all, training is a journey, not a destination!

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