As the 2023 Crufts competition is well and truly underway at the NEC in Birmingham, dog lovers up and down the country are tuning in to watch competing pooches put their best paws forward.
The contest, which is currently run by The Kennel Club and was first held in 1891, opened on Thursday and will conclude on Sunday – and, of course, it will all be broadcast on TV for fans to watch.
The show is also split into four main categories: gundog, working and pastoral, terrier and hound, and utility and toy.
Hosted by Clare Balding, Crufts will also take a look at the serious side of dog breeding and ownership, with an emphasis on health and welfare.
When the competition began in 1891 it was founded by Charles Cruft, a dog biscuit salesman.
After a whirlwind competition, Crufts 2023 will draw to a close on Sunday, March 12 with the final ‘best in show’ contest being held at 8.30. Pictured: A dog competing with her owner, who is wearing a bright red dress, on day one of the competition
Mr Cruft had had previous experience with dog shows, having been involved with the canine section at the Paris exhibition in 1889.
When he brought the show to the UK two years later at the Albert Hall in Islington, it was considered a resounding success.
After 2,500 submissions were received, the appetite for the competition among the general public was clear.
Dog lover Queen Victoria even entered her pooches in several categories, with the royal dogs picking up three awards.
One of the most moving moments of this year’s competition was when eight-year-old Freya Harris, who has stage 4 cancer, took to the arena to compete with her dog, Echo
One dog owner dressed in an eccentric outfit as she and her pooch took to the floor, as she donned a straw hat and a checked waistcoat
For more than a century, Crufts has remained the most prestigious dog competition in the world.
The first few days of Crufts have already provided some weird and wonderful sights as the competing dogs strutted their stuff and showed off their skills in the arena, with adoring crowds and eagle-eyed judges watching on.
Some pooches appear to be able to defy gravity as cameras have caught them mid-air while they zoom over fences and manage to hurl themselves through their owners’ arms.
While for the most part, all eyes are on the dogs themselves, the dedicated and zany owners have also raised eyebrows with eccentric outfits.
One woman, pictured coaching her pooch through a routine on Thursday, wore a straw brimmed hat and a multicoloured waistcoat as she and her pooch danced in the arena.And the owners’ outfits aren’t the only ones turning heads, with pooches arriving at the NEC in their very extravagant coats to protect them from the freezing temperatures and snow.
As well as providing light-hearted entertainment for fans, this year’s contest has also produced incredibly moving stories, such as the young dog owner with stage four cancer who is competing with her dog, Echo.
Eight-year-old Freya Harris, from Horncastle in Lincolnshire, who has Wilm’s tumour, a rare form of kidney cancer, competed yesterday with the Australian Shepherd following her diagnosis at the end of 2021.
Freya’s mother Gemma revealed her daughter wanted a dog that she could show at Crufts after she started watching the prestigious dog show on television from a very young age, and decided that one day she would try and compete herself.
After taking to the floor yesterday, Freya and Echo went on to win second place in the reserve in their category.
After a whirlwind competition, the excitement will wrap up tomorrow, Sunday, 12 March, on its final day at the NEC.
The competition will conclude with the final ‘best in show’ contest which will take place at 8.30pm on Sunday.
The final will be available to watch on Channel 4 and More 4 on terrestrial TV, and it is also shown on Channel 4’s streaming service, All 4.
Additionally, all the competition’s events are livestreamed on the Crufts YouTube channel.
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