In 2018 I watched in horror when a woman protectively grabbed her beloved Whippet from the first-place podium while two activists stormed the arena of Crufts to protest against dog shows.
What those activists didn’t seem to grasp is that Crufts is an amazing dog event shining the light not only on purebreds but also on dogs in shelters that are waiting for adoption.
It’s good that more people are adopting, and it’s good that some purebred dogs’ health issues have come to light. That’s great. Breeding may constantly be improved. But, keep in mind that there are no guarantees that mixed-breed dogs won’t have health issues or genetic disorders.
In my opinion, what is unacceptable is the witch hunt and the shaming of someone for wanting to make a personal choice.
In the free country where I live, if I want to adopt, I adopt. If I want to buy, I buy. It is my life and frankly, nobody else’s business. Besides, I do applaud a good, reputable, and responsible breeder. Which is very different from puppy mills, or backyard breeders. Puppy mills and backyard breeders undoubtfully should be avoided.
On the other hand, responsible breeders go a great distance to improve the health and temperament of a breed. They have their dogs genetically tested and, before mating them, they invest quite some money on Vet bills to check for things like hip dysplasia, cataracts, retina atrophy, and primary glaucoma, among other genetic conditions. They also focus on the temperament of the dogs to be bred, avoiding passing on the genes of aggressive ones. So yes, I do like the notion that the next generation of puppies has a greater chance of being well-balanced in temperament, and having fewer health issues.
I am all supportive of good, responsible breeders, as well as animal shelters. And I strongly believe that any person should have the right to their own choice without being shamed for it.
Now that we got that clear, let’s see what is so amazing about this dog show:
What is Crufts?
Their slogan is “The World’s Greatest Dog Show” and indeed they are!
Crufts started in Victorian times when a young Charles Crufts booked a dog show at the Royal Agricultural Hall in 1886. Since then, It has grown and evolved to celebrate the human-dog bond and relationship in several areas.
That celebration is showcased today through several activities over four days.
At first, Crufts held only the conformation competition. Comformation is the official name for what people know as “dog show” or “dog showing”: when a judge has to decide which of those dogs best conforms to the standard of a breed.
In 1955 they included obedience championship and in this category crossbreeds (dogs that were not purebred) were also able to compete. To this day, crossbreeds are allowed in every category at Crufts except conformation.
In recent years though, Crufts added the Scrufts competition only for crossbreeds. Scrufts awards are for: Most Handsome Crossbreed Dog, Prettiest Crossbreed Bitch, Golden Oldie Crossbreed (8+ year old), GCDS Crossbreed Class (GCDS stands for Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme).
Some of Crufts Activities
Besides conformation – dog showing – Crufts put together an amazing event full of other activities enjoyed by dogs and their humans:
Fast and fun! Dog agility is considered a sport where the dog runs against the clock, overcoming pre-set obstacles. It is not only a great exercise for the dog, but also for the trainer who has to run along and direct the dog in the right obstacle sequence.
Rescue Dog Agility
Only for rescue dogs, this agility is not really a competition, but more focused on having fun and raising awareness on how rescued dogs can be amazing pets.
Heelwork To Music (HTM)
This is a competition where dogs and their humans perform a routine with music, giving the impression that they are dancing.
The routine should not take more than 4 minutes, and it is divided into two categories: heelwork to music and freestyle heelwork to music.
You will see a lot more creativity and free movement in the freestyle. That is because it is not restricted for dogs to be 2/3rds of the routine on a trot/walk at heel (heel is a command for your dog to walk on your left side, parallel to you – not in front, not behind – with the dog’s head aligned with your left leg).
This activity is really nice to watch, with many of the competitors telling a story or interpreting lyrics with their dance. They often use costumes and some objects to help set the mood for a particular theme.
This is a very noisy sport! Teams compete against each other with their four dogs. The dogs have to run and jump four small obstacles, get a ball that is held in a raised platform, and rush back to the start/finish line.
West Midlands Police Dog Display
Police display how their canines help catch and arrest criminals. You will see lots of action here with police cars and police dogs.
Vulnerable Breed Competition
This competition aims to shine a light on breeds that are at risk of disappearing due to a lack of interest in their puppies. Breeds that had less than 300 puppy registrations in the UK are in this category.
If numbers continue to drop, breeds that are still among us like the Bloodhound, the Greyhound, and the Welsh Corgi might cease to exist.
Good Citizen Dog Scheme
This is a demonstration of a dog training program from The Kennel Club UK which aims for dogs and humans to live harmoniously in society. All dogs of any age, size, breed, crossbreed, rescued or not can take part in this program that teaches pet parents how to train their dogs to be better canine citizens.
Medical Detection Dog Display
This is a display of the amazing work done by scientists and medical researchers with trained dogs to detect diseases such as cancer, neurological diseases, and bacterial infection.
Their medical alert assistance dogs are trained to help people with complex health conditions and warn them before a life-threatening event. If you would like to know more about this amazing work, check out their website by clicking on this link.
Competitive obedience is about how well a trained dog does in a series of obedience tests.
Southern Golden Retriever Display Team
This team promotes the gentle nature of Golden Retrievers through obedience routines to music.
Crufts is an amazing event held yearly in Birmingham, UK. It is televised in Britain, but you can watch it anywhere in the world on the Crufts YouTube channel.
They are the world’s greatest dog show because they really try to be inclusive of all dogs while celebrating the unique bond between humans and these amazing animals.
Dogs have been amazing to us, and they have helped us in several areas: from working fields to sports events. From street security to medical assistance. But most of all, dogs have been our loyal companions, from pre-history to today. Isn’t that worth of a show?
Thank you Crufts for celebrating our best friend!
For more information, check out Crufts website.
Watch some past events on Crufts YouTube channel.
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