But really, I think they are.
There's been talk of it for at least a decade (or two---they're starting to run together). There was serious talk back in 2009, when a committee (formed in 2007) recommended to increase the groups number from seven to ten. But some concerns were present, and it went back to committee in 2010. Now it's back---with eleven groups, as follows:
Sporting--Pointers and Setters (19 breeds)
Sporting--Retrievers and Spaniels (21 breeds)
Scent Hounds (21 breeds)
Sight Hounds (15 breeds)
Working--Utility (19 breeds)
Working--Molosser (20 breeds)
Working--Spitz (24 breeds)
Terriers (31 breeds)
Toy (23 breeds)
Non-Sporting (14 breeds)
Herding (30 breeds)
It's still not a done deed. The change in groups has to be
approved, and the selection of which breeds to go in which groups subsequently approved. The vote will be in March 2012. If approved, the change would occur in mid-2015. Yes, your current special will be retired.
Why the change? Besides the obvious difficulty in comparing Borzoi to Basset Hounds and other wildly dissimilar breeds sharing the same group, the numbers will soon become unreasonable. AKC has streamlined its
recognition process for new breeds (translation: they need the money so come on in!) and at this rate some groups will have nearly 50 members by 2014. Winning or placing a group should be an honor, but odds like those will make all but the most advertised dogs walking away winless---and their owners eventually
choosing to spend their weekends elsewhere.
Still, the numbers remain disparate. Terrier and Herding groups won't catch a break--in fact, they're still growing. Sighthounds will increase their odds the most, going from a current 29 Hound group members at present to 15 (versus 49 projected Hounds by 2014).
Handlers should fare well, as they can now win more bonuses for group wins and placements. Clubs will be spending more money; they'll be buying four more group trophies and 16 more rosettes. Groups will take a little longer, but probably not that much longer.
But will it help the dogs? Dogs won't have to stand around in the ring so long, although for some dogs, that might be a disappointment.
The main concern is that of breed assignment. A case in point: the Italian Greyhound. Breeders disagree about whether it should go in the Toy or Sight Hound group. AKC wants it in the latter, if for no other reason than to
even out the numbers a bit. The parent club will be (re) voting on the issue soon, but AKC doesn't have to follow their wishes. Many IG breeders fear that this breed, which was never a hunting breed bit always a companion breed desired for its delicate beauty and prancing gait, may lose its breed type in an attempt to keep up with the long-striding big guys.
Where does your breed stand in the new groups? How do you feel about it? Here's the list of groups and breeds: