Taken from the American Kennel Club website
Buyer Be Aware
Brittany Puppies - Let the puppy-buying public beware--- there is a common misconception about registration papers for purebred dogs. When purchasing a purebred puppy, a buyer has likely done their research to find a breed that suits their needs in terms of temperament, appearance and activity level. However, when it's time to make arrangements for the payment and transfer of the dog from seller to buyer, one will often hear terminology like, "AKC registered," "registered purebred," or "papers included". These statements are not the same.
Over the past six months, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has seen a significant increase in the number of complaints about buyers being misled by sellers who promise them "AKC papers." Whether the seller deceived the buyer by claiming that an alternate registry is the same as AKC, or that AKC papers would be mailed at a later date, the buyer is left frustrated and disillusioned by the puppy buying process. Many irresponsible breeders, puppy mills and pet stores try to deceive potential customers by promising that a puppy will come with "papers". The buyer, believing that "papers" mean AKC, is later heartbroken to find that his/her dog is not eligible to be registered with the AKC. Even more disconcerting, the buyer is left uncertain about the genetic makeup of the dog.
There are currently more than twenty canine registration organizations, offering various standards and membership criteria. Some require a dog to be purebred according to AKC standards, meaning a dog must be bred from members of a recognized breed over many generations, and others will register a dog with little or no proof of its lineage. In some cases, a buyer could make arrangements to purchase and pay full-price for what they believe to be a purebred dog, when they are in fact receiving a mixed-breed.
What's the Difference?
The American Kennel Club is the only not-for-profit registry for purebred dogs. When a dog is registered with the American Kennel Club, the owner is provided with bloodline confirmation and health lineage documentation. The registration certificate is essentially a certificate of a dog's identity, providing recognition and official documentation of the dog's place in breed history. The dog's pedigree traces its parentage back three or four generations.
The only way a person is guaranteed to purchase a purebred dog, with all of the characteristics and traits of the breed, is to purchase an AKC-registerable dog.
When buying a purebred dog, buyers should seek a reputable breeder. If you are buying a dog that is supposed to be registerable with the AKC, it is your responsibility to obtain complete identification of the dog or you should not buy the dog. It has long been common practice to explain the inability saying, "AKC hasn't sent the papers yet." If a breeder is doing his paperwork in a regular, careful manner, there is ample time to obtain the necessary "papers" from AKC prior to sale of any puppy. When "papers" are not available at the time of delivery, it is a red-flag warning sign to exercise extreme caution. Make sure that your registration papers have the official AKC seal.
Another ploy is to claim to be an "AKC Licensed" Breeder. The AKC (American Kennel Club) does NOT license breeders. The AKC will inspect a breeder who produces 7 or more litters per year, OR has had a complaint filed, OR is facing criminal charges in regards to the care or sale of purebred dogs.
Note from me: One thing that I've noticed especially here in the Northwest (might be because we are so close to the Canadian Border), is that some sellers will advertise CKC registration. CKC can mean the Canadian Kennel Club; a legitimate registry, OR, "Continental Kennel Club", where for a fee and a picture, they will register your dog as whatever you think it looks like.
Ask to see the registration papers before writing a check.