Rare and vulnerable breeds prove popular at this year’s Crufts
Last week Britain’s biggest annual pedigree dog show was back, showing us how it’s done with around 20,000 pups competing for the coveted Best in Show trophy. The first Crufts competition took place in 1891 and was won by a greyhound and it is now one of the biggest and most prestigious dog shows in the world, taking place in a vast indoor space covering more than 25 acres of the NEC in Birmingham.
Old English Sheepdog by Obed Hernández on Unsplash
Vulnerable breeds win hearts
Following on from our post earlier this month about vulnerable British breeds and the decline of the ‘Lassie dog’ we were heartened to see many vulnerable breeds both on display and competing in the show. The event includes a special ‘Discover Dogs’ exhibition featuring examples of all the Kennel Club’s 222 registered breeds, 34 of which are now classed as ‘vulnerable’. They also have a special Vulnerable British breeds competition at the show (this year won by a Cardigan Corgi) to raise awareness of the issue. Vulnerable breeds are those which have received less than 300 registered births in a year, whilst ‘at watch’ breeds are those which have had fewer than 450 registrations in a year. This year the Lassie dog (aka Rough Collie) came very close to being on the ‘at watch’ list for the first time ever.
Corgi by by Ron Lach on Pexels
Speaking about the decline, Rough Collie breeder Sophie Wray-Ramsden from Boston, Lincolnshire, said:
“If the Rough Collie was to die out, it would just be so sad. I remember fondly Lassie when I was growing up. Can you imagine a world without Lassie any longer? They're just such a great breed, they're a stunningly beautiful breed. It would just be heartbreaking.”
Discussing the issue of vulnerable breed issue, Kennel Club spokesperson Bill Lambert said:
“The vulnerable breed list is growing, it seems that more people want fewer breeds of dogs. This is really disappointing because we have 222 different breeds and the great thing is that all of those breeds are unique and have lots of different characteristics.
“And it's possible to find a dog that fits into your lifestyle. We want to keep that variety and keep that selection available.”
Pug by Steshka Willems on Pexels
Flat-Faced dogs on show
When it comes to people only choosing specific breeds of dog, one clear trend over the past few years is the rise in popularity of flat-faced (Brachycephalic) breeds such as Pugs, Pekingese and French bulldogs.
Their owners choose them for their cute ‘squashed’ faces but these accentuated ‘bred-in’ features can leave these breeds very uncomfortable, struggling to breathe and exercise properly, causing them to require expensive surgery and experience relatively short lifespans.
The RSPCA have launched a Save our Breath campaign to highlight the plight of flat-faced breeds and this year called on the Kennel Club to end their inclusion in the show. Likewise PETA also called on the Kennel Club to do something about the issue, before taking direct action and unfurling a banner in protest at the ringside.
Responding to the criticism, Crufts organisers said they have strict breed standards that do not encourage accentuation of the flat features. They also pointed the finger at social media for exacerbating the situation, stating:
“We really need to understand how we tackle things like Instagram and the influences way beyond Crufts, way beyond The Kennel Club, and how we really reach people and make sure they’re aware of the same messages,”
Lagotto Romagnolo by Dmitriy Piskarev on Pexels
What breed won Crufts this year?
Whilst easily recognisable, iconic dogs like Lassie (Rough Collies) and the Dulux Dog (Old English Sheepdog) are in decline, the breed that actually won this year is one that you probably won’t recognise and have never heard of!
Orca (aka Am GCh Kan Trace Very Cheeky Chic) was a Lagotto Romagnolo who travelled all the way from Croatia to compete. It was the first time that a Lagotto Romagnolo has won best in show at Crufts. A lively, affectionate Italian breed, their name translates as ‘curly coated duck retriever’ but they are also very good at hunting for truffles, due to their acute sense of smell. The breed was first recognised by the Italian Kennel Club in 1991 so they are very new to the UK and curiously enough, they look bit like one of the UK’s most popular mixed breed dogs, the Cockapoo!
Although Crufts doesn’t accept cross breed dogs, it is interesting to note that the two components of the Cockapoo have won Crufts more times than any other breed. A Cocker Spaniel has won Best in Show seven times whilst Poodles have won on four occasions!
Agility photo by Blue Bird on Pexels
Can my dog enter Crufts?
If your dog isn’t a pedigree that’s not so much of a problem these days. Although they can’t enter the showing classes, plenty of cross breed dogs compete in events including agility, flyball, obedience, heelwork to music, Scruffts and The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award. If you’d like to teach your old dog some new tricks, Metro has some great ideas for you to try.
If you’re getting your dog show-ready then come and check out our grooming shop which has everything you need to get your dog ready to step onto that winning podium!
Main photo: White Lagotto Romagnolo by Desirae Hayes-Vitor on Unsplash