Crufts — “Greatest Dog Show in the World” — Bounds Into Action in England

March 17, 2010 | By Jay Speiden | Category: Entertainment | 29 comments
Tags: international, entertainment

Woody, one of the rescue dogs displaying their agility skills on day 3 of DFS Crufts 2010 at the Birmingham NEC. (Photo Copyright onEdition 2010©)

The DFS Crufts Dog Show kicked off last week at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England. The show bills itself as the “Greatest Dog Show in the World” and, if size is any indication of greatness, Crufts more than lives up to the claim.

Crufts: Still a Breed Apart

The show featured 22,000 dogs and their owners — all prancing, jumping and preening across countless show rings located in five halls in the United Kingdom’s biggest exhibition arena. Over 130,000 fans attended from all over the world. Crufts has been called the most important dog show in the world, and every handler and dog entered would do back flips for a chance to take home the coveted Crufts "Best in Show" title. But out of the 22,000 entrants, only one dog could take home the top honor — thereby becoming the King or Queen of Crufts.

The History of Crufts

When dogs and their owners enter the ring at Crufts, they become part of a long and storied history that began in 1891. In that year, Charles Cruft organized the first ever Crufts show in the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington. The event continued on as a private show run and was organized by the Crufts family until 1948. At that time, the show was sold to The Kennel Club with the guarantee that it would continue to run each year under the Crufts name. Since then the show has grown each year, becoming bigger and more prestigious.

“It’s by far the largest show in the world, but that’s not the only thing that sets Crufts apart,” according to Lisa Peterson, Director of Communications for the American Kennel Club. “Shows like Westminster are confirmation shows,” points out Peterson.

A confirmation show is a show that judges different breeds by how well they conform to the standard set for individual breeds. “Crufts has a much wider range of competition," remarks Peterson. "Dogs at Crufts can be judged for obedience, agility as well as conformation, so the range of activity that goes on in the many rings at Crufts is much wider than most other shows.” All that action makes Crufts a popular ticket for dog lovers. The show has outgrown numerous venues and in 1991, the festivities moved to the NEC in Birmingham, the only facility that can hold the enormous crowds that attend today.

A Few Less Lights, But All the Action

Despite its popularity, this year marks the first time since 1966 that the Crufts show will not be televised by the BBC. Crufts and the BBC parted company after a BBC documentary last August revealed the complications suffered by inbred dogs sold by some breeders and insisted that Crufts exclude certain breeds of dog from the group competition at the show. Instead of shrinking from the larger issue of irresponsible breeders, the organizers behind Crufts, the Kennel Club, have acknowledged the problem and decided to tackle the issue head on. The Kennel Club have joined forces with the Dog Trust to jointly fund an independent inquiry into the problem. As a result, the group has already made a number of recommendations to tackle inbreeding in pedigrees, puppy farming, and other welfare issues for dogs.

The club has also launched a new breed information center on its website to help prospective owners find responsible breeders in their area and see which type of dog would best suit their lifestyle. Crufts organizers claim they will continue to take steps to ensure that all the dogs that compete are as healthy and happy as they can possibly be. In response More4, a local network in the UK is broadcasting highlights from the show and Crufts will broadcast the show live on its website.

The Crown of Crufts

When it comes to dog shows, Crufts truly is the crème of the crop. Throughout the weekend, every dog, trainer, and handler worked to put the best paw forward. At the end of the competition, Yogi, a Hungarian Vizsla handled by John Thirlwell, won the coveted Best in Show. Yogi is not new to the winner’s circle. In fact, he set a new record for Best in Show wins at UK competitions with this, his 18th award. Mr. Thirlwell now plans to retire the seven-year-old, who was bred in New South Wales, Australia, and has been hailed as Britain's greatest show dog of all time. The greatest show dog winning the “greatest show” — a fitting end to the career of a legendary show dog.

To find out more about the Crufts Dog Show, visit www.crufts.org.uk.

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Comments (29)

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Judy M.
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Judy M.
4 years ago

I've been to the Crufts twice. It's an amazing show. I enjoyed looking at the different breeds and the animal welfare organization booths. I also found some marvelous doggie vendors. Last time I went, I found a woman who made dog coats to order. Of course, I had my furbaby's measurements with me, so I had her make my dog a coat.

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Denise L.
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Denise L.
4 years ago

I'd be interested in watching this, but I feel, like with all dog shows, torn. I enjoy them, but I also think about the inbreeding & puppy mills possibly involved.

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