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Not to be confused with Cruft.
Logo of Crufts
Formation 1891
Type Dog show
Headquarters Birmingham, England
  • United Kingdom
Official language

Crufts is an umbrella term for an international canine event held annually in the UK. Crufts is centred on a championship conformation show for dogs but also includes a large trade show of mainly dog-related goods and services and competitions in dog agility, obedience, flyball and heelwork to music.

The event is organised and hosted by the Kennel Club. It is held over four days (Thursday to Sunday) in early March at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham, England. The highest profile dog show in British culture, it is the largest show of its kind in the world, as declared by Guinness World Records.

Crufts consists of several competitions occurring at the same time. The main competition is for the Best in Show award, which is hotly contested by dogs and their owners throughout the world.

The Kennel Club was criticised on the BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed for allowing breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices which are said to compromise the health of purebred dogs. The programme led various sponsors to withdraw. The BBC dropped Crufts 2009 from their coverage after being unable to agree to terms with The Kennel Club.


Crufts exhibition 1891

Crufts was named after its founder, Charles Cruft, who worked as general manager for a dog biscuit manufacturer, travelling to dog shows both in the United Kingdom and internationally, which allowed him to establish contacts and understand the need for higher standards for dog shows. In 1886, Cruft's first dog show, billed as the "First Great Terrier Show", had 57 classes and 600 entries. The first show named "Crufts"—"Cruft's Greatest Dog Show"—was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington, in 1891. It was the first at which all breeds were invited to compete, with around 2,000 dogs and almost 2,500 entries.

With the close of the 19th century, entries had risen to over 3,000, including royal patronage from various European countries and Russia. The show continued annually and gained popularity each year until Charles' death in 1938. His widow ran the show for four years until she felt unable to do so due to its high demands of time and effort. To ensure the future and reputation of the show (and, of course, her husband's work), she sold it to The Kennel Club.

In 1936, "The Jubilee Show" had 10,650 entries with the number of breeds totalling 80. The 1948 show was the first to be held under the new owner and was held at Olympia in London, where it continued to gain popularity with each passing year. The first Obedience Championships were held in 1955. In 1959, despite an increase in entrance fees, the show set a new world record with 13,211 entrants. By 1979, the show had to be moved to Earls Court exhibition centre as the increasing amount of entries and spectators had outgrown the capacity of its previous venue. Soon, the show had to be changed again—the duration had to be increased to three days in 1982, then again in 1987 to four days as the popularity continued to increase. Since 1991, the show has been held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, the first time the show had moved out of London since its inception.

It was also at the Centenary celebrations in 1991 that Crufts was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest dog show with 22,973 dogs being exhibited in conformation classes that year. Including agility and other events, it is estimated that an average 28,000 dogs take part in Crufts each year, with an estimated 160,000 human visitors attending the show.

Crufts was formerly televised by the BBC; this ended after the 2008 event (see "Criticism") and the 2009 event was only shown via the Internet. Since 2010 the show has been broadcast on the commercial channel More4.

Competing for Best in Show[edit]

Crufts is not an open competition; dogs must have qualified throughout the previous year by successfully competing (gaining a top-3 place in their class) at a Kennel Club licensed Championship show where Challenge Certificates are awarded. Dogs can become qualified for life upon attaining their Kennel Club Stud Book Number.

Dogs compete in hierarchical fashion. Dogs begin by competing against others of the same breed, split by gender, age and previous class wins. These classes include Veteran, Special Puppy, Special Junior, Yearling, Post Graduate, Mid Limit, Limit, and Open. Each is awarded once for dogs and once for bitches. The dog and bitch class winners then compete again for the Dog and Bitch Challenge Certificate (CC). The two CC winners then go head-to-head to determine the Best of Breed.

After the best of each breed has been chosen, they then compete against the others in their Group (in the UK, there are seven Groups: Toys, Gundogs, Utility, Hounds, Working, Pastoral, and Terriers) to find the Best in Group. The seven Group winners then compete to find the Best in Show and Reserve Best in Show.

Best in Show winners receive a replica of the solid silver Keddall Memorial Trophy, and a small cash prize of £100.

Best in Show winners (since 2002)[edit]

Year Breed Kennel Club Name Class
2016 West Highland White Terrier Ch. Burneze Geordie Girl Terrier
2015 Scottish Terrier Rus/Blr/Ukr/Cro/Lit/Lat/Est/Balt/Slo/Pl/Am Ch. McVan's To Russia With Love Terrier
2014 Poodle (Standard) Ch/Am Ch. Afterglow Maverick Sabre Utility
2013 Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo Hound
2012 Lhasa Apso Ch. Zentarr Elizabeth Utility
2011 Retriever (Flat-Coated) Sh Ch. Vbos The Kentuckian Gundog
2010 Hungarian Vizsla Sh Ch/Aust Ch. Hungargunn Bear It'n Mind Gundog
2009 Sealyham Terrier Am/Can/Su Efbe's Hidalgo At Goodspice Terrier
2008 Giant Schnauzer Ch Jafrak Philippe Olivier Working
2007 Tibetan Terrier Ch & Am Ch Araki Fabulous Willy Utility
2006 Australian Shepherd Am Ch Caitland Isle Take A Chance Pastoral

Other competitions[edit]

Another competition is the dog agility competition, where the dogs undergo a time trial, where they must manoeuvre, with the guidance of their owners, through, over, and around different obstacles. Any mistake made by the dog is penalised by adding time to their result. Dogs must qualify during the preceding year to compete in individual or team events, although representative handlers and dogs from England, Wales and Scotland are invited to compete in the International competitions.

Next is the obedience competition, now held in its own 'Obedience Arena'. Dogs qualify by being successful at shows during the preceding year to compete in the Dog and Bitch UK Obedience Championships, UK Inter-Regional Team Competition and the crowd's favourite, the Obedience World Cup. The prizes are awarded to the most obedient dog according to the judges after they have undergone various demanding activities, such as off lead heelwork at different paces, distance control, retrieve, send away, stays and scent discrimination.

The Flyball competition is a relay-style race. Teams of four dogs compete against each other in a knock-out competition. Each dog jumps a series of four hurdles, and then steps on a box, which is rigged to release a ball. The dog must then return the ball to the start of the course to tag one of its team, who then repeats this process until all the dogs have finished. Teams must qualify during the preceding year.

Crufts also holds a musical canine freestyle competition, also called heelwork to music in the UK.

The Young Kennel Club (YKC) also has its own ring and stand where handlers aged between 6 and 25 compete in Agility, Obedience, Showing, Handling, Heelwork to Music, Flyball, and Grooming. Handlers and dogs must qualify in their discipline during the preceding year.

Crufts hosts the World Champion Junior Handling competition in which National Best Junior Handler winners from around the globe compete for this esteemed title. Since there is a quarantine to the import of foreign dogs, many competitors must "borrow" dogs from gracious British show enthusiasts. The first World title competition, held in 1984, was judged by Ger Pederson. The winner of this premiere competition was US representative Tracie Laliberte who had won Westminster Kennel Club in 1983. A unique feature of this first competition was the requirement of switching dogs mid-way through the competition.

Other attractions[edit]

Crufts drew 160,000 visitors to the NEC in 2008.[1] While the main purpose of the event is the search for the best dog in the show, many trade stands sell a wide range of dog-related merchandise or advertise dog-related charities. There is also a section known as Discover Dogs where visitors can see almost every breed recognised by the Kennel Club on view, and discuss each breed with knowledgeable owners.

Crufts also holds special shows and demonstrations, where specially trained dogs may perform in front of an audience.


As the Kennel Club also registers crossbreeds, Crufts also hosts many competitions and displays for crossbreeds. They mainly compete in agility, obedience and heelwork to music competitions. The popularity of Crufts and the interest of dog owners who do not own purebreeds convinced the Kennel Club to hold Scruffts, a show similar to Crufts for crossbreed dogs.


Main article: Pedigree Dogs Exposed

The Kennel Club was criticised on the BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed for allowing breed standards, judging standards and breeding practices which are said to compromise the health of purebred dogs.[2] The programme led to various sponsors such as Hill's Pet Nutrition, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Dogs Trust to withdraw their participation in Crufts and other Kennel Club events. The BBC eventually dropped Crufts 2009 from their coverage after being unable to agree to terms with the Kennel Club. It was reported that Pedigree Petfoods withdrew from sponsorship of Crufts following this programme, but their announcement was made well in advance of the broadcast and for financial reasons.

The Kennel Club initially defended their practices,[3] and criticised the programme as "highly biased".[4] It also lodged a complaint to regulatory authority Ofcom claiming "unfair treatment and editing".[5]

Because of the strong public response, the Kennel Club started rolling out new health plans. Breed standards for every breed went under review and show judges would be required to choose only healthy dogs. It has also requested regulatory powers from the Government, which would allow the club to take actions against breeders who do not comply with health standards.[6] Bans on close inbreeding are set to take effect on 1 March.[citation needed] New breed standards for 209 dog breeds were announced in January 2009, and are to be effective immediately, but with breeders allowed until June to object.[7] The new standards will "not include anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely." "This will help to prevent the practice of exaggeration, where features that are perceived to be desirable, such as a short muzzle or loose skin, are made more prominent by breeders, and which can have detrimental effects on a dog’s health." PeTA has compared dog breeding to Germany's eugenics programme of the 1930s and 1940s in a sign board at a Birmingham bus stop, in protest against Crufts 2010 show held in the city.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Crufts 2008". BBC Birmingham. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  2. ^ "Pedigree dogs plagued by disease". BBC News. 2008-08-19. 
  3. ^ Irving, Ronnie (2008-08-08). "Statement about the forthcoming BBC programme 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed' – BBC1, Tuesday 19th August, 9pm". The Kennel Club. 
  4. ^ Lawless, Jill (2008-09-18). "Kennel club bites back after exposé on show dogs". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2008-10-15. 
  6. ^ Kennel Club changes breeding rules to end cruelty Times Online
  7. ^ Valerie Elliott (14 January 2009). "Healthier new bulldog will lose its Churchillian jowl". London: The Times. Retrieved 14 January 2009. New breeding standards for 209 dog species have been brought into immediate force after the furore over breeding practices shown on a BBC One documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, last summer. Breeders have until the end of June to lodge any objections 
  8. ^ "Animal rights group Peta launches poster campaign in Birmingham ahead of Crufts". 2010-03-10. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 

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