By Tim Falk
Published: 02/25/2022, edited: 02/25/2022
If you’re shopping around for a puppy and comparing breeders, chances are you’ll come across the phrase “champion bloodlines”. Breeders commonly highlight these 2 words as a selling point for their puppies, but have you ever stopped to wonder what it actually means when a puppy has champion bloodlines?
You might be surprised to learn that it may not have as much bearing on that cute little pup in front of you as you might expect.
As the wording suggests, this phrase refers to a dog that has champions in its bloodline. However, it doesn’t mean that a pup’s mom and dad are both top dogs of the show ring.
Instead, champion bloodlines refers to the fact that at least one of that pup’s parents or grandparents managed to earn an American Kennel Club (AKC) Championship title. So if a breeder says a puppy is from champion bloodlines, it could potentially mean that their grandfather on their mother’s side was once named a champion of the show ring.
For example, one of the dog’s ancestors may have earned the title of Conformation Champion (CH). While they’re sometimes seen as beauty pageants, conformation events measure how closely a dog conforms to the official breed standard.
Or maybe they earned the Master Agility Champion (MACH) title, which, according to the AKC, is awarded to dogs that achieve a certain number of championship points and qualifying scores from select classes.
To find out exactly what sort of champion dogs are in your dog’s bloodline, you’ll need to check their AKC-Certified Pedigree.
An AKC-Certified Pedigree is the dog world’s version of a family tree. It shows your pup’s ancestry so you can chase their lineage and get a better idea of exactly what sort of dog you’re getting.
The Pedigree will show you any champions that are in your dog’s bloodline. These championship titles are shown as prefixes attached to an ancestor’s name — for example, CH for Conformation Champion. You can see a full list of titles on the AKC website.
You can also use an AKC-Certified Pedigree to check whether any of your dog’s ancestors come from overseas, plus track recorded health certifications such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) hip dysplasia certification.
There are 2 types of AKC-Certified Pedigrees to choose from:
Printed certified pedigrees. Printed pedigrees show up to 4 generations of a dog’s family tree. They’re put together from official Stud Book records and come with an AKC seal. There’s also a 3-generation AKC Certified Export Pedigree available if you want to register or show your dog overseas.
Online research pedigrees. The second option is to opt for a pedigree that you can view and download online. There are 4- and 5-generation research pedigrees available, and they include details like competition titles and important health information.
AKC-Certified Pedigrees can be ordered from the AKC website, but email, mail, fax, and phone orders are also accepted.
You can typically expect to pay more for a champion bloodline dog than you would for a dog without any illustrious titles in their family tree. In fact, this study showed that champion bloodlines increased the cost of puppies across all breeds. But the exact amount you can expect to pay for a puppy can vary quite a bit from one breed to the next.
If you search for puppies on the AKC Marketplace, you can filter the results to only include pups with champion bloodlines. This allows you to find pups that have at least 1 dog in their parentage, going back 3 generations, that earned an AKC Conformation Championship or Grand Championship title.
To give you an idea of how costs can vary, we searched for Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppies. Those with champion bloodlines were mostly priced in the $2,500–$5,000 range, while we found puppies without champions in their ancestry starting in the $1,500–$2,000 price range.
That said, there were still plenty of non-champion bloodline pups priced at $2,500 and above, so the absence of a champion bloodline won’t necessarily mean finding a more affordable puppy. It’s also worth mentioning that not all breeders include prices in their listings.
We tried the same strategy with Doberman Pinschers. We found pups with champion bloodlines were commonly priced in the $2,500–$3,500 range, while some puppies from non-champion backgrounds started in the $1,000–$1,500 ballpark. However, once again, there were plenty of these non-champion pups priced similarly to those with championship-winning ancestors.
So if you want to know how much a champion bloodline dog costs, there’s no hard and fast answer. It all depends on the breed and the breeder, while the age of the puppy can also have an impact (older pups tend to be cheaper).
Champion bloodlines certainly aren’t the be-all and end-all when choosing a puppy. If a breeder tells you a puppy is from a champion bloodline, don’t just take this statement at face value. Ask about what titles were earned by which of the puppy’s ancestors, and ask to see their AKC-Certified Pedigree.
It’s important to remember that different titles mean different things. For example, a Conformation Championship may mean that the dog conforms to the breed standard and has the temperament to handle the show ring — but how much does it tell you about how suitable that puppy will be as a pet? How much does it really tell you about a dog’s character, how easy they’ll be to train, or how well they’ll adapt to life in your home?
With this in mind, champion bloodlines are far from the only factor to consider when choosing a puppy. The most important thing you can do is plenty of research on different breeds to make sure you choose a dog with the right temperament, personality, exercise needs, and training requirements to suit your lifestyle.
Then you need to search for a responsible breeder who takes every possible step to ensure the health and wellbeing of their puppies. (Check out our guide to interviewing a breeder for useful tips and info!)
Once you’ve done that, the breeder will be able to match you up with the right puppy for you and your family.
Got any questions or concerns about your puppy’s health and wellbeing? Chat to a veterinary professional now for instant expert advice.
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