A Guide to Crufts
What You Need to Know
- Crufts is an annual dog show, widely-regarded as the most prestigious show of its kind anywhere in the world.
- Held each March at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, the show attracts tens of thousands of dog-lovers and professional breeders, as well as the attention of the world’s media.
- The ‘Best in Show’ award is the highlight of Crufts. To win this, a dog needs to beat others in its breed before beating others in the same group before triumphing in the final.
- Dog agility, Flyball and Obedience competitions are also highlights of Crufts.
- The Discover Dogs exhibit held each year at Crufts gives visitors the chance to see examples of each breed of dog recognised by the Kennel Club.
- Not everyone can enter Crufts; If you have a purebred dog and wish to compete at Crufts, then you will need to qualify through a recognised Kennel Club event.
- Tickets for Crufts go on sale to the general public from September. So, for Crufts 2013, tickets are available from September 2012. To buy tickets, visit the official Crufts online ticket office.
What is Crufts?
Crufts is an annual dog show, widely-regarded as the most prestigious show of its kind anywhere in the world. Strictly speaking a ‘conformation show’ – that is, a show where purebred dogs are judged according to their breed’s specific characteristics – it has evolved into a four-day festival of all things dog-related.
A History of Crufts
Crufts dates back to the end of the nineteenth century when travelling dog biscuit manufacturing manager Charles Cruft first started holding shows in which purebreds were judged by experts. By the turn of the century, the ‘Cruft's Greatest Dog Show’ was attracting breeders from all over the world, with thousands of dogs taking part.
Following its founder’s death in the 1930s, Crufts came under the control of the Kennel Club and carried on growing in both size and popularity.
Modern Day Crufts
The modern-day Crufts is the main event on the annual dog show calendar and a global media event. Held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham since 1991, the show continues to attract thousands of breeders and their dogs, as well as tens of thousands of dog-loving spectators and a global TV audience of millions. It is each March, with the 2013 Crufts will be held at the NEC between March 7 and March 10.
Crufts today is divided into several main events, namely:
Best in Show: By far the most important event at Crufts is the Best in Show competition. Here, competing purebreds are judged according to the key characteristics of their breed, with the competition having several stages.
Firstly, dogs compete against others of the same breed, split by age and gender. The top dog and the top bitch then each ‘Best of Breed’ competes in their respective groups (toys, gundogs, utility, hounds, working, pastoral and terriers) for the title of ‘Best in Group’. Finally, the Best in Groups compete for the coveted title of Best in Show. Since 2002, breeds that have won Best in Show include the Hungarian Vizsla, Australian Shepherd, Pekingese and the Whippet.
Note that the Best in Show competition is not an open competition. In order to take part, a dog must have successfully competed at a Kennel Club-recognised event and have been awarded a Challenge Certificate.
Dog Agility Competition: Alongside the Best in Show competition, Crufts also hosts annual agility contests. Again, these are not open events. All of the dogs and their handlers have to qualify for a place at Crufts by succeeding at one of the many heats held by the Kennel Club up and down the country over the course of the year.
The agility competition is split into a number of categories, including dog size and age and even handler age. Additionally, Crufts also hosts international dog agility competitions, with teams of handlers from around the world competing against each other.
Obedience: As with the Dog Agility competition, Obedience is only open to dogs and handlers who have successfully taken part in a Kennel Club-recognised qualifying event. Again, the competition is divided into several categories, including one for young handlers and one for international teams known as the ‘Obedience World Cup’.
Flyball: A crowd favourite at Crufts, Flyball is a relay race for teams of four dogs and their handlers, with the dogs jumping hurdles and retrieving balls as quickly as possible. As before, teams need to qualify to compete at Crufts.
Musical Canine Freestyle Competition: One other, increasingly popular competition at Crufts is the annual Musical Canine Freestyle event. Also known as heelwork to music, the event is open to both.
Other Attractions: Away from the varied competitions, Crufts also boasts a range of other attractions, among them the Discover Dogs exhibition, where visitors are able to see dogs from every breed recognised by the Kennel Club and chat with their owners. Additionally, the exhibition hall is always filled with trade stalls selling dog-related merchandise, including fashion accessories and health remedies, and a number of animal charities also set out their own stalls at Crufts.
Taking Part in Crufts
If you have a purebred dog and wish to compete at Crufts, then you will need to qualify through a recognised Kennel Club event. To find out more about how you can take part in an event and work your way towards qualifying for the world’s most famous dog show, check out the official Kennel Club website.
If you are from outside the UK and wish to show your dog at Crufts, then you will need to apply for an Authority to Compete (ATC). More details on how to obtain an ATC are available on the official website.
How Do I Get Tickets?
Tickets for Crufts go on sale to the general public from September. So, for Crufts 2013, tickets are available from September 2012. To buy tickets, visit the official Crufts online ticket office or contact your local Kennel Club office.
- If your four legged friend has gone missing, read our guide to finding a lost dog.
- Thinking of becoming a dog owner? Read our guide to buying a puppy.
- If you want to brush up on your Crufts history, you can find a list of past ‘Best in Show’ winners here.