Crufts..The Origins Of The Ultimate Dog Show.

Songbird BStarred Page By Songbird B, 21st Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3-madof2/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Dogs

March 06-09th 2014, will see dogs of all breeds converging on the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre here in the UK, to compete at Crufts, the largest Dog Show in the world, but just who was the man behind the show that still carries his legacy today, and when did it first begin...

Crufts..

We are now building up to the largest four day Annual UK Dog Show competition in the world, at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, or NEC as it is better known, where pampered pooches are primped within an inch of their lives, and perfection of breed truly rules the roost from March 06th-09th 2014 at Crufts.
This is an event that pits pedigree dogs against each other, and can raise any obscure dog breed into the spotlight by winning the ultimate prize of the impressive Keddell Silver Memorial Trophy for Best in Show that will catapult dog and owner into the heady heights of fame and fortune within the Dog world.
Love it or loathe it, because it is a show that can court controversy by all means, I wanted to know a little more about the origins of the show, and how it all began through just one man.. Charles Alfred Cruft.

Charles Cruft...From Dog Biscuits To Terriers..

Who would have thought that the ambitious young man who turned his back on the family business, to become a travelling dog biscuit salesman in Victorian England in 1876, would end up creating the largest annual Dog show ever known?
The name of that particular young man was Charles Cruft, and what a legacy he would leave in his wake...

Charles Alfred Cruft was born in 1852 in England, and was one of four children. After a well rounded college education, he followed his father into the family Jewellery and Goldsmith business , but found it was not for him. Charles was confident, intelligent and driven, and he wanted to carve out his own path in life.
Leaving the family business in 1865, he entered the employment of James Spratt, an enterprising American immigrant from Ohio, who manufactured Dog biscuits.
Charles Cruft was offered the lowly position of office boy, but that wasn't where he intended to stay for long, for his sights were set much higher.

Rising rapidly up the promotional ladder, he became General Manager by the age of 26, due to his natural flair and ability to promote sales.
Charles was every inch the showman, businesslike, organised, yet very affable, and he was soon travelling extensively around Europe expanding the Spratt Dog Biscuit Company, which became a precursor to our modern dried dog food today.
During his business travels, and due to his growing interest in dogs and their health through diet, he was soon approached to help organise dog shows for which he showed a remarkable flair. His first Dog Show was held at the Exposition Universelle in France, 1878.
In 1886, the Duchess of Newcastle, Kathleen Pelham-Clinton suggested Cruft would be ideally suited to arrange a dog show for Terriers, to be be held at the Royal Aquarium in Westminster, London. Being the showman he was, Charles knew just how to court publicity and it was promoted as ' The First Great Terrier Show Of All Time'.
The show attracted 570 entries and proved a huge success, and in 1890, Collies and a selection of Toy dog breeds, popular with Victorian upper classes, were added to the event.

This was all the incentive Charles needed to realise Dog Shows could indeed be the way ahead, and his ambition to succeed brought about the first dog show that bore his name. Now accessible to various dog breeds, Cruft's opened in 1891, at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington. It received royal patronage from Queen Victoria, who entered several of her own dogs.
That first year recorded 2,437 entries featuring well over 36 breeds of dog and was the beginning of the Dog show we know and enjoy today.

The Largest Dog Show In The World.

The Cruft's Show expanded rapidly, and by 1914, it was recognised as the Largest Dog Show in the World. Quite an achievement by any standard!
Due to the outbreak of War, Cruft's annual show did not take place regularly again until 1921, but it had not lessened in interest, indeed by 1936, over 10,000 dogs had now entered its hallowed halls. Cruft's Dog Show had a certain prestige, and those who could afford to, wanted their pedigree dogs on display. Winning was their objective, but just being seen as part of such a recognised exhibition brought kudos.
With wealthy upper class gentry and powerful influential royal patronage, Cruft was in his element. He had found commercial success in his own right at last.
Charles Cruft ran a total of 45 shows before his death in September of 1938, he was 86 years old and died an extremely wealthy man..

The Cruft's show was sold onto the Kennel Club by his widow, and though it retained its original name of Cruft's, the apostrophe was removed in 1974 due to a rebrand.

Crufts was held at the Olympia Exhibition Centre until 1979, then moved to Earl's Court, and finally to Birmingham NEC in 1991, where it is still held today.

The Kennel Club and Crufts.

The Kennel Club formed in 1873, laying down an official set of guidelines, rules and regulations regarding Dog Shows and Field Trials. It also became responsible for the publication of a Stud Records Book regarding the siring of Pedigree Dogs.

The Organisation's aim had always been to 'Protect and Promote the General Well-being and Health of Dogs', though controversially in 2008, an exposé shown by the BBC brought this into question, as some purebred dogs reaching the required standard approved by the Kennel Club, proved to have moderate to severe genetic health issues.

The BBC, who had broadcast Crufts for the last 42 years withdrew its sponsorship due to this, as did the RSPCA, PDSA, and the Dogs Trust.
Since the exposé aired, the backlash and outcry from the general public forced the Kennel Club to readjust its registration guidelines, and set about implementing recommended improvements in the welfare of pedigree dogs, which is currently ongoing.

Despite the controversy, Crufts is still considered the 'Ultimate Dog Show Experience', and every year, crowds in their thousands attend the four day spectacular event. It is one of the most eagerly anticipated dates on the calendar for dog lovers both here in the UK, and all across the world. In 2013, 149,500 people attended Crufts, along with the 27,000 dogs on show over four days!

'Best in Show' and so much more!

Today, Charles Cruft would be amazed to see how large and varied his original dog show has become. The Best in Show still proves to be the main attraction for both competitor and paying public, but there are also Dog Agility training, Obedience, Flyball and Heelwork to Music competitions, plus the pedigree dogs that form the seven main show breeds


  1. Working
  2. Pastoral
  3. Terrier
  4. Hound
  5. Toy
  6. Utility
  7. Gundog


Throughout the four day event, there are various dog demonstrations, Trade Stands and Breed Ownership advice, now rebranded Discover Dogs. on hand to advise on dog breed ownership.
No longer just the pinnacle for canine pedigree aristocrats, even the mixed Cross-breed has been accepted within Crufts encompassing embrace, something I'm quite sure our Charles Cruft would raise an eyebrow or two at nowadays.

'Scruffts' a more informal dog show, gives the opportunity for the humble mongrel to shine within a competitive setting, and since 2013, the finals are held in conjunction with Cruftsfor the first time. There are four categories to compete in.

  • Most Handsome Dog
  • Prettiest Bitch
  • Child's Best Friend
  • Golden Oldies


In 2006, the Kennel Club added a new popular category called 'Friends For Life', which celebrates canine loyalty and friendship through adversity, bravery and companionship.
Last year's winner was 'Haatchi', a rescued three legged Anatolian Shepherd dog, and his young owner Owen Howkins, a 7 year old boy with a rare genetic muscular disease. It was a touching, emotional story that completely won-over the hearts of the public who selected them as the 2013 champions.

Crufts are also raising awareness of dog adoption, one of my own personal crusades that is close to my heart, and it is good to see that such an elite event that once used to cater to the well-to-do, now encompasses all dogs whatever their circumstance.

Here in the UK, Crufts will be televised on Channel 4 from Thursday 06th of March 2014, and streamed 'live' on their own youtube dedicated channel.

Whatever your personal opinion may be of Crufts, and however much controversy it may court, no one can deny that the vision of one man, Charles Alfred Cruft has left a legacy that can still be classed without doubt as the 'Ultimate Dog Show in the World'... and I guess when all is said and done, that is not such a bad legacy to be remembered by.

Acknowledgements and Credits:

Those big brown eyes looking up at you now from this page, belong to my own rescue dog, Raffles, and though he may never reach the giddy heights of Crufts, he encompasses all the traits of why we dog owners love and adore our pets, and why Crufts is still as popular today as it has always been.
Here is a link to 50 fascinating facts about Crufts.

If you enjoyed this, please feel free to check out Songbird B's Portfolio.

Other Dog Related articles by Songbird B:
Adopting A Rescue Dog: Part One.
Adopting A Rescue Dog:Part Two.
Adopting A Rescue Dog: Unknown Factors.
What it is like owning a Jack Russell Terrier Dog.
Rescuing Raffles.
Rescue Me..
If I Followed You Home.. (Poem)
If I Only Had A Voice.. (Poem)
The Welsh Legend Of A Faithful Hound: Gelert of Beddgelert
In Doggy Dreams.. (Poem)

Why not join us here at Wikinut and get paid royalties for publishing your work..

Acknowledgements and Credits:

All images, except Raffles, are courtesy of Wikimedia Commons with grateful thanks.
My gratitude to youtube and Crufts for embedded videos.

Tags

Best In Show, Charles Cruft, Competition, Crufts, Dog Activities, Dog Adoptions, Dog Agility, Dog Breeds, Dog Show, Dog Showing, Dogs, Event, Flyball, Heelwork To Music, History, Judges, Judging, Kennel Club, Obedience, Pedigree Dogs, Songbird B, Songbird B Article, Songbird Bev

Meet the author

author avatar Songbird B
Hi there! I am Songbird B, and I am a semi-pro female Jazz vocalist. I have a huge passion for Jazz music, and I love writing Poetry, which I have done all my life. I am very Spiritual in my beliefs, and love Photography, Music and Garden Design....I...(more)

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Wow! That was quick Mark! Thanks so much for the moderation and the Star merit..\0/x

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

how absolutely wonderful is this Bev...pictures and telling of Cruft's story..thank you...my ex used to display his doggie there too.

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks Carolina, this was hard work I must admit. Most of the video clips were soooo long! I had to looks at loads to find the shorter ones that would be suitable. I have never been to Crufts but I know more about it now than I ever thought I would!!! lol..Thanks for looking in on me..\0/x

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

What a fascinating read of an exceedingly well-researched and beautifully presented article. Thank you Songbird.

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Ah thanks Steve.. If I'm honest, I'm not sure how I feel about Crufts, but this has been quite an eye opener.. Amazing that one man could create such an event. Us Brits are dog soppy..lol \0/x

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author avatar Carol
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

A wonderful history of Crufts and beautiful images too. Many thanks Bev.

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks for looking in on me Carol..It made interesting research and will be all over our television here in the UK from Thursday onwards...\0/x

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Sadly many of these dogs are beaten into submission by their trainers and trained to enact the disciplined fashion that you see on the performance for human pleasure.
These dogs are also subjected to plastic surgeries, inhuman cage treatments and decorative ideas of their owners that could enable them to win endorsements and monetary gains.
Took one of my puppies for a show as a dog owner saw it and said never again as many resort to bad sportsmanship and even destroy, harass and pain the animals just to get a win.
Well for me, a pet is for love and I feed my animals natural wholesome food not any of these packet manufactured products as they contain additives that may harm them and make them put on unnecessary weight.
Oh yea, these dogs are starved to maintain their healthy weight and worse their bloodline and race are defined for the win, not their nature and demeanour.

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

It is really nice to find a constructive post from you Lady A, and though I can't say some of these awful things don't happen, here in the UK, they are pretty sharp on noticing when something isn't right with a dog usually. Certainly the hours of videos I trawled through to find what I was after, showed extremely happy contented dogs doing what they enjoyed..

Dogs aren't like humans and put on a good face to hide what they are feeling. You are painting a very dark, hidden side indeed in your comment, but you cannot tar every owner who shows their dogs with the same brush. I really do appreciate your post though Lady A, because like all things, there are two sides to every situation. \0/x

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Never heard of Crufts. I would like a dog but we just do not have time for them but there are some beautiful breeds out there. Great article.

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author avatar Songbird B
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Maybe it is more a British event because it is always set here in the UK, Mark, but it is huge and I suppose in the doggy world in whatever country you are in, this exhibition is well known.

Thanks for moderating my page and for the Star merit..Always great to see you here my friend. \0/x

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author avatar Mariah
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

What a treat for all us dog lovers, some beautiful dogs in these videos Bev, like you, I'm not sure how I feel about crufts, I just think although these dogs are perfectly groomed and highly trained, they won't really get to be your everyday mutt, rolling in the mud, playing in the park, etc, because they have to be kept in pristine condition and conform to regimented training for the shows.
I loved the scrufts humble mongrel hooray lol God love them..Owen and Haatchi awww so heartwarming, the mascara was running a bit whilst watching that one..but the rosette for the best looking mutt on this page...
..(drum roll)...goes to our Raffles...fantastic post Bev, well done on your hard work and effort, it really paid of my friend..thank you xxx

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Ah bless you sweetheart.. Yes, this article has actually been the hardest one I have ever written because I'm not 100% sure I totally agree with Crufts either.
The actual monetary gain from wins isn't at all large, I think it is £100 for Best in Show, the only money really gained must be from pups sired from Crufts winners. I think it is far more open to the ordinary pet now than it has ever been, and that is why it has remained so popular..
In 2013, they had over 149,000 people attend!

I have tried to be fair in this article and not impose my own feelings about it..but I learned so much too, which is why I find writing such a joy to do. I gain so much more than just a Star merit, I gain knowledge which is priceless!

Our Raffie is a bit of a star himself. Fought cancer twice and still going strong and the most sociable mutt in the village! LOL.. Bless your heart for looking in on me my friend..Hugs \0/xxx

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Well written piece Songbird,I love dogs and shows, nice one and hang a star in your article!

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Hi Fern, good to see you here on my page my friend! I'm dog nutty I really am, and as you can see by my links, I have written a lot about them here on Wikinut.
I think owners and their pets get a real buzz out of these shows, and local dog shows are fun.. Still debating about Crufts.. Thank you for posting, my friend. \0/x

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Very balanced post and exhaustive too as also your response to comments, Songbird. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole show and your inimitable presentation - siva

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Hello Siva my friend.. I have tried my best to write a balanced view on this subject, but it has been my toughest challenge yet I must admit! lol.. Took forever to locate short video clips, but I'm pleased with the overall layout of this article.

Crufts is huge here in the UK, along with the likes of Wimbledon Tennis, but many breeders around the world travel to show their prize dogs at Crufts..Bless you for looking in on me..\0/x

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author avatar Delicia Powers
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Fantastic article...much hard work makes such a wonderful page....thank you my friend- you Songbird always amaze me... with your beautiful sharing of your many talents and loves and ....thank you...I too love dogs and miss mine dearly....

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Ah Delicia, you always make me smile whenever I find you here on my pages dear heart. This one was a real challenge, but I have learned so much from researching it! I have had rescue dogs all my adult life, and can't imagine a time when I wouldn't have one.. Mine may never be pedigrees, but they love unconditionally just the same! \0/xxxx

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author avatar richardpeeej
4th Mar 2014 (#)

It is clear for all to see that you have spent a lot of time on producing this article Bev. I loved reading all the history behind the show too. A well deserved star page my friend and such a topical subject taken to write about with the Cruft's show nearly upon us. Keep them coming :-) xx

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks Rich! Yes next week it will be wall to wall coverage about Crufts here in the UK.. The history was fascinating wasn't it? Glad you enjoyed my article dear friend. You are such a staunch supporter of my work. Hugs to your heart dear friend, \0/xxx

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author avatar C.D. Moore
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Extremely well done star page!
ox. so glad you are back.

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author avatar Songbird B
4th Mar 2014 (#)

Hello C.D..I have missed my friends here on Wikinut so am glad to be back among you all once more. Writing my own poetry book has been a trial of love and hard work, and I am glad that I can now take a break away from it and write for Wikinut instead.

Glad that you enjoyed my Crufts article and thanks for such a lovely post my friend. \0/xxx

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author avatar Kingwell
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Amazing! Great work my friend.

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Why thank you so much Kingwell! This was a challenge to me but I'm pleased that I stayed with it and saw it through. Crufts starts here on Thursday and is a huge thing in the dog world here in the UK..It is amazing to think that last year, they had 27,000 dogs entered into Crufts! \0/x

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author avatar Maria Malone
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Awesome job on this Songbird - so well done - interesting read and wonderful videos - a truly remarkable work.

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

How lovely to see you Maria..Glad you found this interesting and enjoyed the videos too..Thanks for stopping by to say hello..It is always good to see you \0/x

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author avatar vellur
5th Mar 2014 (#)

It is awesome that you have a rescue dog yourself. Jack Russel looks awesome. Great information about Cruft's Dog Show.

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Thank you Vellur, Raffie is a bit of a star, as he has gone through cancer twice and is still with us.. My end links on adoptions tell his story plus some of the other rescued dogs we have been blessed to share our life with over the last 30 plus years.. Must catch up on your pages too my friend! Thanks for looking in on me..\0/x

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author avatar Carol Kinsman
8th Mar 2014 (#)

What an interesting piece this was Bev! So well researched and beautifully written. I can tell that you put so much work into this dear friend. Such a fascinating story and so amazing that in a day when most people did not have the opportunity to move beyond their families position and status, he was able to do just that. Like you, I have my issues about the whole dog show scene, but I still find myself watching the Westminster dog show in Madison Square Gardens New York City, which is the biggest show here in the US. It is quite amazing to see what we humans have created with our genetic experiements, but unfortunately, like Mariah was saying, these poor dogs will probably never have the opportunity to live a normal dog life. Loved the picture of Raffles. I didn't realize how much he looked like our dog Naji till I saw that picture. :-) This was a well deserved star page!

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author avatar Ptrikha
11th Apr 2014 (#)

Amazing show and an amazing story about the show!

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author avatar AjaySinghChauhan
26th Oct 2014 (#)

good post very useful and informative. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us.

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author avatar Poetic2984
2nd Dec 2018 (#)

Wonderfully done

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