It’s no secret we’re all huge doggy fans here at Certainly Wood. So, the fact Crufts takes place every March just up the road from us at the NEC, is pretty exciting. It celebrated its 125th anniversary last year and is preparing to open its doors in 2017 on 9th March for 4 days.
Crufts is one of the world’s largest dog-themed events. Now billed as more than a dog show, Crufts is about the role dogs play in our lives – from search and rescue to dancing dogs.
The original idea came about in the Victorian times courtesy of one Charles Cruft. His family wanted him to become part of the family jewellery business, but, on leaving college in 1876, the young Charles had other ideas. He opted to take a job with a gentleman called James Spratt who had set up a new business in Holborn selling ‘dog cakes’.
Although he started out as the office junior, thanks to his hard work and diligence, Charles was soon promoted to the role of sales rep. Travelling the country, he visited all the big estates belonging to the landed gentry together with numerous sporting kennels. He continued to impress James Spratt and Charles had Europe added to his sales patch.
It wasn’t only the Brits Charles won over – the French were impressed too and invited him to take responsibility for the dog show within the Paris Exhibition.
Charles saw an opportunity and, in 1891, organised the first-ever Cruft's show, held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington. It attracted nearly 2,500 entries and some 36 breeds were represented in its first year.
The show continued to grow over the coming years and it was only the onset of World War 1 that saw Cruft’s put on hold for four years. Back in action in 1928, the Best in Show concept was introduced and the very first title was taken by a greyhound called Primley Sceptre.
Charles died in 1938, but not before celebrating the show’s golden jubilee (albeit 5 years early) with a record 10,000 entries. Although Charles’ wife Emma continued to run Crufts, WW2 meant the dog show was out of action for most of the 40s. It returned in 1948 under the management of the Kennel Club and was televised for the first time in 1950.
Over the next 40 years, Crufts continued to go from strength-to-strength with a host of new disciplines being added. Obedience Competitions were introduced in the 50s and crossbreed dogs, such as working sheep dogs, were also allowed to enter for the first time. In the 70s, Crufts added agility classes to its roster and the show was always the annual highlight at Earls Court, where it was held throughout the 80s.
Crufts moved to the NEC at the start of the nineties, in time to celebrate its centenary and also to allow more dogs and visitors to enjoy the burgeoning spectacle.
Nowadays, the emphasis is first and foremost on healthy dogs. Judges put health at the top of any judging criteria. There’s a wide range of displays including Gamekeepers Classes and the Police Dog Team Operational and Humanitarian Action of the Year award. Dogs that have done something particularly heroic are recognised by the Eukanuba Friends for Life competition.
One of the more recent introductions is Scruffts – an award made to the Family Crossbreed of the Year. As well as the spectacle of the judging, there’s always something going on in the various rings around Crufts.
There’s also a huge retail and display area where you can buy anything and everything for your pampered pooch or learn more about the work done by the likes of Battersea Dog & Cats Home. If you’d like to pop along, why not get your tickets from http://www.crufts.org.uk - just be aware that unless your dog is participating in the show, he or she won’t be able to visit!