From March 7th through 10th, dog lovers will flock to Birmingham in the U.K. for Crufts 2019. For those of us living in the United States who are used to watching the Westminster Dog Show, Crufts, which calls itself “The World’s Greatest Dog Show,” may be unfamiliar. But if we think that all dog shows are the same, we would be totally wrong. Crufts is drastically different than Westminster and other dog show. Here are the top 13 things you didn’t know about Crufts.
13. Crufts is the National Dog Show of the United Kingdom
Just as the Westminster Dog Show is hosted by the American Kennel Club, the national dog organization of the United States, Crufts is the premier event of the Great Britain’s equivalent of the AKC. Dog breed clubs and dog registry organizations began in England, so it is only natural that the national kennel club of the United Kingdom is simply called The Kennel Club, with an emphasis on the “The.”
12. Three New Dog Breeds Will Debut at Crufts 2019
Visitors to this year’s Crufts show will see three new dog breeds making their debut. They are the Russian Toy, the White Swiss Shepherd Dog, and the Black and Tan Coonhound. Last year, there was one new addition, the Barbet.
11. Crufts Isn’t As Formal and Stuffy As Westminster
If you’ve ever watched the Westminster Dog Show on TV, you probably noticed that the whole atmosphere of the event is one that oozes elegance, sophistication, and class. It is a proper and formal competition, full of pomp and circumstance. Not so, the Crufts event. England’s national dog show has more of a fun, relaxed, festival-like vibe. The actual dog show competition is just one aspect of Crufts. As a whole, it is a celebration of man’s best friend. You will find hundreds of vendors selling all things dog…collars, leashes, training books, coffee mugs (for you, not your dog), T-shirts, key chains, mouse pads, and almost everything in between. There are also meet and greets with the dogs, informative workshops, dog duck herding, a doggie dancing competitions, and even a mutt show.
10. Crufts Lost Its Apostrophe in the 1970s
Crufts Dog Show is named after its founder, Charles Cruft, who started the event in 1891. For more than eighty years, it was known as Cruft’s Show. In 1974, the event underwent a facelift and rebranding. It was decided then to drop the apostrophe. Today, the event goes by the punctuation-less Crufts. This probably isn’t something you need to know about Crufts, just as long as you don’t get caught with an apostrophe in hand.
9. Charles Cruft Started a Dog Show Because He Didn’t Want to Join the Family Business
When Charles Cruft’s parents sent him off to college in 1876, they hoped he would study business and come back to help manage the family jewelry shop, but Cruft had other ideas. After his education was complete, he moved on the family business and began selling dog biscuits. He apprenticed with dog breeders, then directed the dog show at the Paris Exhibition of 1878 in France. He took that experience back to England where he organized a few breed club dog shows. Cruft, however, was dreaming bigger. In 1891, he organized the first Cruft’s Dog Show.
8. No Dog Breed Left Behind
Since 2015, Cruft has included a special “Vulnerable Breeds” competition. This event is designed to bring more recognition to the distinctly British dog breeds of England and Ireland that are experiencing a decline in their numbers. As lifestyles move away from agrarian ways, the need for some of the specialized hunting and herding breeds has decreased and some breeds are on the verge of dying out. The Vulnerable Breeds show not only increase awareness for the dog breeds that are in danger of being left behind; it also spotlights the men and women who are working to maintain these breeds.
7. Crufts Has Ten Times More Dogs Than Westminster
Every year more than 28,000 dogs participate in Crufts, compared to the nearly 2,800 that compete at the Westminster Dog Show. Included in Crufts competition for 2019 will be more than 3,600 dogs from outside of the United Kingdom. Of the foreign dogs at the Crufts 2019, Italy will have the most dogs representing their country. Next are dogs from France, the Netherlands, and Germany.
6. A PETA Protester Crashed Crufts 2018…On Live TV
At last year’s Crufts, just as the Best in Show winner was being announced, a protester representing the animal rights advocacy organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, stormed the ring and disrupted the awards presentation. The entire incident unfolded live on television. The protester was not able to accomplish anything more than frightening the dogs and their handlers before a group of onlookers cornered him. Cheers and applause erupted as security led the man away in handcuffs. The incident forced Crufts to reexamine their security protocol to ensure the safety of the dogs and humans at the event.
5. All Cruft Dogs Can’t Compete at Westminster, and Vice Versa
Just because both Crufts and the Westminster Dog Show are the top dog shows of their respective countries doesn’t mean that all dogs competing in the U.K. can compete in the U.S., and vice versa. In both dog shows, the animals are judged against the breed standards that the AKC or The Kennel Club have established for each breed. The AKC and Westminster still required ear cropping and tail docking in certain dog breeds, such as Dobermans, Great Danes, Cocker Spaniels, and Rottweilers, an archaic and, some say, inhumane practice that was done to allow the dogs to do their work without causing damage to their ears or tails. The Kennel Club, and all local, regional, and national dog shows in the United Kingdom, has banned the ear cropping and tail docking for more than 100 years. A Doberman shown in Crufts, for example, cannot complete at Westminster with uncropped ears, and a Westminster Doberman cannot come to Crufts with cropped ears.
4. Crufts Loves Mutts
Most dog shows are off limits to mixed-breed dogs, but not Crufts. One of the most popular events at Crufts is Scruffts, the show’s competition for cross bred dogs. While Westminster and other dog shows are exclusive to purebred dogs, Crufts wants to highlight the wonderful qualities of lovable, everyday mutts. Scruffts takes efforts throughout this portion of the competition, however, to hammer home its messages of responsible breeding practices, dog ownership, and dog rescue services.
3. You Can Pet Dogs at Crufts
At other dog shows, there’s often a “look, don’t touch” policy in place, but Crufts is different. The philosophy of Crufts is to get humans and dogs together in celebration of their unique bond. A meet-and-greet event, called Discover Dogs, takes place at Crufts every year. Hundreds of dogs representing more than 200 breeds are available, along with their breeders and owners, for paw shakes, ear scratching, and belly rubs (the dogs, not the owners). One of the primary goals of Crufts is to educate the public on different breeds of dogs and what better way to do this than to actually meet the dogs and chat with their breeders?
2. Dancing With the Dogs
Yes, there is a Dog Dancing Competition at Crufts. Technically, it is called freestyle heelworks set to music, but it’s really dancing dogs. This is just one of the many unique and hilarious competitions at Crufts that is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face. In addition to doggie disco, there is duck herding. Some of the herding dogs, or as Crufts calls them, pastoral dogs, try their hand at herding a flock of noisy ducks in an event that is simply designed to make you say, “aww!” You can also expect to see various agility skills tests, a flyball competition, racing, and other dog competitions you never knew were a thing.
1. Crufts Has a Dog Show
The main event at Crufts is still the dog show. There are more than 2,000 different classes for purebred dogs and each one moves a dog closer to the coveted Best in Show awards, the highest honors at Crufts. The 2018 Best in Show honors went to Tease, a Whippet. This year’s winner will be anyone’s guess.
In the dog world, Crufts is a unique show. Its relaxed, come-as-you-are attitude and its goal of bringing dogs and people together truly has lent itself to creating a four-day long festival of dogs. It is so much more than a breed show…it is a celebration of man’s best friend