Thanks to my friend Lisa for bringing this to my attention. She just entered a show in CA and discovered that today was the effective date for the split in the 12-18 month class. As of now, this is an option for the event-giving club. It certainly is something we can consider for specialties going forward.
At least for Beardies, they change so much from day to day as youngsters that a 12-month-old will look worlds different from an 18-month-old of the same breed. Splitting the class gives all of these youngsters a chance to compete against other dogs in similar stages of development. It will make things a little more exciting for the stewards and judges for a while, but no more than other changes.
Here is the AKC rule describing the split. The update is shown in italics.
CHAPTER 3, SECTION 5. The Twelve-to- Eighteen Month Class shall be for dogs that are twelve months of age and over, but under eighteen months, that are not champions. Clubs may further divide the Twelve-to-Eighteen Month Class into two age groups consisting of twelve months of age and under fifteen months, and fifteen months of age but under eighteen months. The age of a dog shall be calculated up to and inclusive of the first day of a show. For example, a dog whelped on January 1st is eligible to compete in the class at a show the first day of which January 1st of the following year and may continue to compete in this class at shows up to and including a show the first day of which is the 30th day of June of that year, but is not eligible to compete in this class at a show the first day of which is July 1st of that year.
Two more changes to the rules that should help breeder/owner/handlers (also cribbed from Lisa's email)...
New BBE rule: You have until the day of the show (instead of the day of closing) to make appropriate ownership transfers and still qualify for this class.
Another rule change is that a BBE entered dog can be moved to Open class (and only Open) if the BBE breeder/owner is not able to handle the dog at the show entered.