Crufts consists of several competitions occurring at the same time. The main competition is for the Best in Show award, which is generally considered the highest award achievable by a dog and its owner.
Crufts was named after its founder, Charles Cruft. Charles Cruft 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, 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 Centenery celebrations in 1991 that Crufts was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds 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 30,000 dogs take part in crufts each year, with an estimated 150,000 human visitors attending the show.
Dogs compete in hierarchical fashion, beginning with dogs of the same breed. The judge will award several certificates (titles); culminating with Best of Breed and Best Puppy. (See the entry at Best of Breed for a description of the competition)
Dogs can also compete within each breed. These classes include Veteran, Spec puppy, Spec junior, Spec yearling, Post grad, Mid limit, Limit, and Open. Each is awarded once for dogs and once for bitches.
After the best of each breed has been chosen, they then compete with 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.
|Year||Breed||Kennel Club Name||Class|
|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|
|2005||Norfolk Terrier||CH & AM CH CRACKNOR CAUSE CÉLÈBRE||Terrier|
|2004||Whippet||CH COBYCO CALL THE TUNE||Hound|
|2003||Pekingese||CH YANKEE A DANGEROUS LIAISON||Toy|
|2002||Poodle (Standard)||CH & NORD CH TOPSCORE CONTRADICTION||Utility|
|2001||Basenji||CH JETHARD CIDEVANT||Hound|
|2000||Kerry Blue Terrier||CH TORUM'S SCARF MICHAEL||Terrier|
|1999||Irish Setter||SH CH CASPIANS INTREPID||Gundog|
|1998||Welsh Terrier||CH SAREDON FOREVER YOUNG||Terrier|
Next is the obedience competition. 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 offlead heelwork at different paces, distance control, retrieve, sendaway, 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.
Crufts also holds special shows and demonstrations, where specially trained dogs may perform in front of an audience.