Crufts enters its 126th year in 2017. From its first show in 1891 it has been regarded with prestige and it is still known as the world’s premier dog show today.
Crufts was started by travelling dog biscuit salesman Charles Cruft in 1891 with the first all breeds show being held in London. Charles already had experience exhibiting dogs during his time travelling Europe where he was promoted the canine section at the Paris Exhibition.
Thanks to this required skill and knowledge, he was able to make the first ever Crufts show a success. Held at the Royal Albert Hall, Islington in 1891, the ‘Cruft’s Greatest Dog Show’ was a huge triumph with 2,500 official entries, including the dog’s of Queen Victoria who went on to win three categories, including a diplomatic joint first prize for her Pomeranian named Gena.
The Best in Show category wasn’t added to Crufts until 1928, with the first winner being Greyhound named Primeley Sceptre. A Greyhound hasn’t won the top prize since 1956.
The popularity of the show continued to grow and in 1936 it had over 10,000 entries. To mark the occasion, Charles celebrated the show’s Golden Jubilee five years early.
After his death in 1938, Charles’ widow Emma took over the running of the show, and ten years later she handed over control to the Kennel Club to ensure the highest standards were maintained while the show continued to expand.
In 1955 crossbreeds were entered for the first time, adding to the growing variety of dogs competing. In 2000 Crufts setup a sister competition named ‘Scruffts’ especially for crossbreeds and features six categories, including Most Handsome Dog and Best Rescue Dog. Over 1,400 crossbreeds were entered into the competition in 2016.
From 1961 to 1963 a Terrier won Best in Show for three years in a row. The most consecutive wins for a group are for Gundogs, which won four years in a row between 1930 to 1933. Gundogs have the most wins with 23, closely followed by Terriers with 21 Best in Show wins.
English Cocker Spaniels are the most successful breed at Crufts, winning Best in Show a total of 7 times. Poodles, Welsh Terriers and Irish Setters are all second with 4 wins.
The most successful owner is Mr H. S. Lloyd whose dogs have won Best in Show a total 6 times, all with English Cocker Spaniels. He first won in 1930 and then again in 1931 with a dog named Luckystar of Wave. Lloyd didn’t win Best in Show again until 1938 but also won in 1939. Both these wins were also with the same dog, named Exquisite Model of Ware. Due to World War II, Crufts was not held between 1940 and 1947, and on the return of the competition, Lloyd won yet again in 1948, then at the next competition in 1950 where he won both times with Tracey Witch of Ware (Cruft’s was not held in 1949 due to month of the event being moved from October to February).
H. S. Lloyd’s daughter, Jennifer Lloyd Carey, is the longest running Crufts competitor, first entering a Cocker Spaniel in 1950. The popularity of Crufts continued to rise and in 1991 Crufts moved from the Royal Albert Hall to the larger NEC in Birmingham. It now sees around 150,000 people attending each year.
Since 2010, Channel 4 and More4 have broadcast the competition and see around 4.5 million viewers tuning in.
From seeing an impressive 2,500 entries in its first year in 1891, Crufts now has 20,000+ dogs hoping to qualify for entry.
We are pleased to announce that for the fifth year running, we have a stand at the event. So come find us at the NEC between the 9th and 12th of March.