The first day of Crufts is in the record books, and all in all it was a jolly good show. After all, when it comes to pomp and circumstance, the English wrote the book. The world’s largest dog show began yesterday and runs through Sunday. While the main attraction is the 20,000-plus dogs in the conformation classes, there are plenty of other diversions including agility, flyball, and the “Heelwork to Music” freestyle competition. While I admit that the HTM is not my cup of tea, I do envy the handlers who have the patience and creativity to come up with the routines and then convince their dogs to do it. As much as I would like to have made the trip to Birmingham, England, for the four-day extravaganza, I am content to watch it all from my armchair. To its credit, The Kennel Club (I love the exclusivity of that designation) provides almost live coverage of the group judging.
While Crufts does not have the kind of online breed coverage that Westminster has, we point out that Westminster only has to film 2,500 dogs being judged. First up on Thursday was the Terrier Group, which is much like our own AKC Terrier Group. There is no Russell Terrier and the Miniature Schnauzer is in the Utility Group (comparable to our Non-Sporting Group), but otherwise the group makeup is pretty much the same. As the Terriers enter the ring in alphabetical order, the first thing one notices are the tails. Ear cropping and tail docking are outlawed in the UK and Europe, and it takes a moment of adjustment. First in the ring was the Airedale Terrier who had the longest of the tails of the group. Frankly, after a bit, the tail didn’t bother me while the dog was moving, but it really looked out of place when the dog was at rest. On the other hand, the Sealyham Terrier’s shorter tail, which never fell below his topline, was nearly as noticeable.
Several of the breeds are substantially larger than here in the US. The Cairn Terrier was easily 25 percent larger than most of what we see in the ring here. Both the Norfolk and Norwich Terriers were also bigger than their American counterparts. However, judge Paul Wilkinson’s top four were all splendid dogs that no American fancier would find objectionable, the Skye Terrier, CH Salena the Special One, the 2012 Montgomery County Kennel Club BIS; the Lakeland Terrier, American GCH CH Iron Van Foliny Home; the Irish Terrier, CH Fleet St Fire and Ice; and the Border Terrier, Norduch Toftahill Game On.
The day’s only other group was the Hound Group, and with that group came the specter of disqualifications as two of the Group, the Basset Hound and the Bloodhound, had to pick up their veterinarian certifications before proceeding to the group judging. Happily both were cleared and competed without any of the uproar seen in last year’s show. The Kennel Club’s Hound Group includes six Dachshunds, Longhaired, Smooth, and Wirehaired in both standard and miniature versions. The Hound Group also includes both a Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen and a “Grand” Basset Griffon Vendeen, as well as a Basset Fauve de Bretagne. There’s no American Foxhound, but a Swedish foxhound called the Hamiltonstovare, no Plott nor any coonhounds of any type. Other variations on the Hound theme include the Sloughi, a North African sighthound, and the Finnish Spitz, which we are used to seeing in the Non-Sporting Group. Happily, Hounds don’t have cropped ears or docked tails, and all of the Hounds looked much like their American cousins. While I recognized no American dogs in the group, judge Ben Reynolds-Frost’s Group One, the PBGV, CH Soletrader Peek A Boo, is from a kennel that has exported several top winning PBGVs to the US. Rounding out the placements were the Whippet, CH Shalfleet Simply a Lord; the Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund, Stargang Czarina; and the Norwegian Elkhound, CH Kestos Ispy at Graythor JW SHCM.
Check out all the Crufts coverage here on Best In Show Daily and on Crufts’ You Tube site. I will also bring you results from the final three days over on Dog Show Poop. Check in with me here on The Back Story on Monday, and I will give you a recap on Crufts and our shows here in the US this week.