What is a breed? 

It's a group that shares characteristics, i.e. height, weight, haircoat length, tail shape, temperament - factors that are selectively bred into a dog to serve particular functions (hunting, herding, etc.)

The American Kennel Club recognizes over 160 breeds/varieties of dogs - it also maintains the oldest & largest registry of purebred dogs.  

Realistically, it's a Club - just like any other club - full of people, rules, paperwork, fees, computer glitches, etc. 

While the AKC sponsors wonderful opportunities to participate in shows & other events, papers do NOT guarantee the health or purity of an animal.  While DNA testing has come a long way, costs associated w/ testing is usually passed along to the Buyer - including those who have no interest in breeding.  

The AKC historically reviews the background of a breed, checking w/ clubs in other nations, in order to better understand a dog's traits prior to acceptance. They scrutinize exhibitions & trials - finally organizing U.S. venues for everything from agility to tracking - creating exciting get-togethers for owners prior to breed acceptance. Typically, the AKC will watch clubs/registries of various local groups, logging several generations of pedigrees, identifying the new breed's numbers & participation in AKC events prior to acceptance. It's a long, tedious process which takes years. An added plus:  future decisions regarding issues related to the breed are based on guidelines of a group - not an individual.

However, truthfully, papers won't make a better dog.  They can not guarantee healthy or humane breeding conditions - nor do they make a more socialized animal.  None of the Clubs are able to verify breeders create a healthy clean environment, provide good nutrition or extensive exercise.  While personal visits are sometimes made by reps - they usually only occur w/ breeders who register so many litters per year. 

Nasty temperament, fear biting, poor conformation - any number of negative traits -  may be repeated in breedings - especially when a Breeder is forced to cut corners in order to squeeze AKC fees out of the litter.

Unlike many horse registries, dog registries/clubs do not identify pups w/ any type of photography.  Three-eyed, three-legged pups can be registered if the fee is paid.  THIS IN NO WAY IS MEANT TO CRITICIZE THE AKC - OR ANY OTHER CLUB.  It is a warning  "Buyer Beware".  The AKC & other groups can issue guidelines, however an unscrupulous individual will create a way to dodge responsibility & righteousness DESPITE efforts extended by a governing body.

If exhibition or breeding is not in your future, consider an unpapered pup - ESPECIALLY a rescue baby. Use your eyes, ears & internal antenna to determine if the pup is healthy - ask for a 3 day window to have it examined by your vet.  

Unless proven lineage is a requirement in the pup's future ........ Papers = squat