Crufts, the UK’s largest dog show, took place last weekend in Birmingham with over 20,000 dogs (from 200 breeds) competing not just for the top Best in Show prize, but also for prizes agility and obedience.
There was even a class called “Scruffts” in which crosses complemented each other.
The first Crufts were held in 1891 when Charles Cruft created an exhibition for all dog breeds and 2,000 people entered. In recent years, however, the show has drawn criticism from animal welfare charities, such as the RSPCA and Dogs Trust, who are so concerned about the impact of animal husbandry practices purebred dogs on dog welfare that they haven’t attended since 2009.
They worry that the Kennel Club, which organizes the Crufts, is not doing enough to prevent poor breeding practices, such as mating closely related dogs in order to achieve a certain purebred appearance.
This practice rapidly reduces the gene pool and increases the risk of hereditary diseases such as hip dysplasia, cancer and heart disease. They also criticize Kennel Club breed standards that have detrimental effects on a dog’s health – for example, standards that promote excessively flat faces or excessive skin folds.
The Kennel Club has taken steps to control some of these extreme characteristics and has launched an initiative called “Breed Watch” which educates competitors on responsible breeding and has grouped high-risk dogs into “category three breeds” ( which includes Pugs, Bulldogs and German Shepherds).
But animal welfare charities believe much more needs to be done to protect the welfare of these dogs and to ensure that all breeders and judges prioritize the dogs’ health and temperament over their own. their appearance.
Crufts creates buzz about certain breeds, driving up their demand and price, leading some unscrupulous breeders to cash in at the expense of their dogs’ welfare and any genetic conditions they might be promoting.
This year’s Best of Breed award went to a flat-coated retriever called Baxer, who won the gun dog class and went on to become the overall winner.
Despite its controversy, Crufts is an opportunity to celebrate the dog as a talented and diverse species.
For example, the agility competition is fast and furious with the fittest and smartest dogs (both purebred and crossbred) maneuvering through a tricky obstacle course of ramps, posts and tubes. a.s.a.p.
There is also a Hero Dog Award which highlights the unique relationship humanity has with dogs and the support this amazing species can give us in the face of adversity.
The award has five categories: working dogs (ie dogs in the military, police, search and rescue, etc.); support and assistance dogs (guide dogs, medical detection dogs, therapy dogs, etc.); “best friends” (companion dogs who have helped their owners through difficult times); ‘child’s champion’ (dogs that have had a positive impact on a child’s life); and rescue dogs (dogs who overcame a difficult start in life to bring happiness to their adopters).
It must have been a tough competition to judge, but the eventual winner was from the support dog category – the Leicester-based non-profit ‘Pete and the Newfoundlands’.
The organization works with people who are struggling with their mental health and contemplating suicide, and the demand for their services is unfortunately too high.
But to end on a more positive note, the ManxSPCA is quick to say that rescue is our favorite breed and all of our rescue dogs are heroes!