ADAA was founded in 1979 as an affiliate of ADAI, the Akbash Dog Association International, 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 for Akbash Dogs in North America but also a breed registry. With more than 40 imported Akbash Dogs entering the U.S. from Turkey, primarily in the first decade and through the efforts of the breed founders, David and Judy Nelson, the ADAA registration program met a critical need. During that same period, Akbash Dogs sent into Belgium, Germany, and England were being registered with the ADAI, not to be confused with the ADI, a later breed club.
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. The UKC’s interest in the Akbash Dog as one of the recognized native breeds of Turkey was the result of a 1996 International Symposium on the Turkish Shepherd Dog held in Konya, Turkey. That Symposium led to the statement that three native livestock protection breeds (Akbash, Kangal, and Kars Dogs) were recognized in Turkey. 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 North American club to have as its goal the support of the Turkish Akbash Dog.
What does the ADAA do to support the 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 was not as strong until about 3 decades later. 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. Then local inhabitants undertook, with local government help, the establishment of a breeding facility in the town of Sivrihisar, in the heart of Akbash Dog country. Throughout the decades leading up to that achievement, members of ADAA repeatedly visited Turkey, giving as gifts various U.S. publications featuring the Akbash Dog as a way to stress the uniqueness and importance of the breed. Members of ADAA, particularly its officers, worked to raise the Turkish awareness of the critical situation for the Akbash Dog and its need for more support in its native land.
Outside of Turkey
Education of both our owners and of the general public is an 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 UKC’s 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 demodectic mange as conditions with strong genetic components 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.
Since about 2009, individual ADAA members have worked with livestock producers and conservations from other countries to further the use of Akbash Dogs as predation deterrent for endangered predator species, such as the jaguar in Brazil.
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 the Nelsons’ 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 show ring 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 show ring, 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 and even international 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.
A very important part of the ADAA is the support and camaraderie it offers its members by means of the ADAA 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.