The biggest, and some say best, dog show the world over began today in Birmingham, England, at the gargantuan National Exhibition Centre, a collection of interconnected halls that house the show’s benching and the big rings where breed judging takes place, as well as the most amazing array of vendors you can find at any dog event anyplace on the planet. In addition to the breeders, owners and handlers whose dogs are shown at Crufts, thousands of visitors traverse the NEC during the four-day event. There’s really nothing else like it in the dog show world.

The biggest dog show in the world attracts local, national and international media attention. Photos by Karl Donvil.

Today the Terrier and Hound breeds were judged, but there was much more going on while those classes were being judged. The Crufts extravaganza includes agility, working trials, heelwork to music, rally, obedience, therapy dogs, flyball and so much more that spectators can enjoy, going on all day long. But of course it’s the breed and Group judging we’re most interested in.

The Terriers

In the Terrier breeds today, the biggest entries were in Staffordshire Bulls (389), Borders (308), Westies (158), Cairns (152), Parson Russells (131) and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers (122). Dogs came from around the world, and when the Terrier Group entered the ring I realized how many foreign-bred and -owned dogs won their breeds. Just a few examples: the Best of Breed Airedale, Devil V ‘T Seebosch, was from the Netherlands, the Cairn, Dk. Fi. Nord. No. Ch. Nordcairn’s Back For Good from Denmark, and the Scottie, McVan’s To Russia With Love, bred in the U.S. by Vandra Huber and owned in Russia.

Skye Terrier Eng. Ch. Salena The Special One was selected winner of the Terrier Group by judge Paul Wilkinson.

Several of the nine dogs that made judge Paul Wilkinson’s cut in what I thought was a pretty spectacular Terrier Group were also bred or owned outside the U.K. The Border Terrier, Nord. Ch. Toftahill Game On, was bred in Sweden by Lena and Jan Eriksson and is owned and handled by Hanna Bergstedt. He is called ‘Ismo,’ and his sire is from Susan Bushrod’s Indianapolis-based Otterwise kennel, while his dam Swedish Ch. Sub Terram Red Light, is of Scandinavian breeding.

Bull Terriers in the U.K. are shown together, rather than as separate White and Colored varieties as they are in the U.S. The Bull Terrier that made judge Wilkinson’s cut was Padhen Hitman, a British lad bred by Mr. and Mrs. P.J. Sewards and owned by Mr. and Mrs. McDermid. His sire, Eng. Ch. Emred Huntsman, was the 2008 Regent Trophy and Ormandy Jug winner, which are among the most prestigious awards in Bull Terriers. Hitman has also won the Regency Trophy.

Second in the Terrier Group went to Lakeland Terrier Am. Ch. Iron Van Foliny Home, the Best in Show winner at Montgomery County in 2012.

In Irish Terriers the BOB winner was Ch. Fleet St. Fire and Ice, bred in the U.S. By R.C. and Shari Carusi and Stan Wojewodski and owned in the U.K. by Tony and Jean Barker and John Averis, who handles her. Tony Barker owned, with Victor Malzoni, Am. Eng. Ch. Fleet St. Fenway Fan, among the top Terriers in the U.S. in 2009 and 2010, also handled by breeder R.C. Carusi. ‘Fynn’ then went to the U.K. and was handled to a successful career there by John, including a third in the Group last year at Crufts. The Fire and Ice bitch is a half sister to Fynn, both out of Am. Ch. Fleet St. Firebird.

Lakeland Terrier Am. Ch. Iron Van Foliny Home should be very familiar to American Terrier enthusiasts, as he was Best in Show at Montgomery County last fall. From Belgium’s Van Foliny Home kennel, ‘Aston’ was bred by Rony Demunter and Dieny Uiterwijk, is owned by Victor Malzoni and handled by Gabriel Rangel.

Norwich Terrier Eng. Ch. Ragus Merry Gentleman was the 2012 Crufts Terrier Group winner. He is bred, owned and handled by Lesley Crawley and is co-owned by Mr. M. Oddie. I believe ‘Paris’ was just over a year old last year when he won the Group.

Group Third went to the Irish Terrier Ch. Fleet St. Fire and Ice, bred in the U.S.

Sealyham Terrier Eng. Am. Ch. Blomendal’s Born In the USA at Thunder Road was bred in the U.S. by Sarah Hawks of Delaware, and is owned by Sarah with Jennifer Bledge, who lives in the U.K. ‘Dewar’ was also the Crufts BOB winner last year, handled then, as now, by Margery Good. He is the son of the 2009 Crufts Best in Show winner Ch. Efbe’s Hidalgo at Goodspice. ‘Charmin’ was, of course, handled by Margery to Number 1 Terrier in the U.S. in 2007 and 2008, as well as Best in Show at AKC/Eukanuba 2007 and at the World Show in Stockholm in 2008.

On home turf, Skye Terrier Eng. Ch. Salena The Special One is bred, owned and handled by Sue Breeze. ‘Lampard’ was also BOB at Crufts 2012. Another of Sue’s Skye’s, Eng. Ch. Salena Black Shadow, was the BOB winner here in 2010 and 2011 and he was fourth in the Group in 2010, so Sue’s got winning at Crufts down pat. Lampard shares at least one ancestor with Black Shadow: his grandsire, Eng. Ch. Gumshoe A Touch of Frost by Salena, is Black Shadow’s sire.

The Swedish-bred Border Terrier Nord. Ch. Toftahill Game On was awarded fourth in the Group.

Welsh Terrier Ch. Noraly of the New Husken also made the cut. Bred in the Netherlands by P.M.J. Krautscheid, he is owned by Americans Bruce Schwartz, Samantha Curran and Richard Berg, and was Number I Welsh in the U.S. in 2008 handled by Wood Wornall’s team. He was handled in the Group today by Gabriel Rangel’s assistant, Simon Simaan.

Last but not least in the cut was West Highland White Terrier Nz. Can. Ch. Whitebriar Jawdropper. Bred by Maureen Murphy and Vanessa Edwards, owned by June Fraser and handled by David Gignac, ‘J.D.’ was the Number 1 Terrier and Number 5 among all breeds in Canada in 2012, and as of March 7, according to is Number 1 all breeds so far this year. Whitebriar was founded in Devonshire, England, in the late 1930s by Joyce Beer, and was a world-renowned Westie kennel. Maureen Murphy went to Whitebriar as a kennel maid in 1975, eventually became a partner in Whitebriar, and when Mrs. Beers passed away she continued the breeding program in New Zealand. Vanessa Edwards joined her in 2009.

The final decision for judge Wilkinson could not have been an easy one, but his placements were the Skye Terrier first, the Lakeland second, the Irish third and the Border fourth.

The Hounds

The Hound breeds at Crufts saw some entries of a size we very seldom see in the U.S. There were 490 Whippets entered, 292 Beagles (which are not divided by size in the U.K.), 236 Afghan Hounds, 191 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, 147 Irish Wolfhounds, 135 Salukis and 106 Borzoi. Dachshunds, which are divided both by coat-type and size in the U.K., had entries that look amazing to us: 164 Miniature Longhaired, 119 Standard Longhaired, 130 Mini Wire, 103 Standard Wire, 157 Mini Smooth and 77 Standard Smooth.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Eng. Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo became a Group winner at Crufts for the second time under judge Ben Reynolds-Frost.

Ben Reynolds-Frost was tasked with judging the Hound Group, and he also made a cut of nine, five of which came from those breeds with entries over 100. Beagle Eng. Ch. Aust. GCh. Orobay Graceful Triumph was bred down under by Rhonda Telfer and is owned by Brian Foster and Jen Davies of the U.K. ‘Trumpy,’ a lemon-and-white, is from Australian and New Zealand breeding for at least three generations, and won the Reserve dog CC at Crufts last year at his U.K. debut. He was a multiple specialty Best in Show winner in Australian before going to England.

Bloodhound Maplemead Melodeon from Marksbury is another home team player. Sue Emrys-Jones owns and handles this young bitch, who was top Bloodhound puppy in the U.K. last year. In 2007 Sue handled her Ch. Marksbury Wistful, also known as ‘Bertha,’ to Best of Breed and Group First at Crufts. Sue has had numerous BOB wins at this show over the years.

Second in the Hound Group went to Whippet Eng. Ch. Shalfleet Simply A Lord.

Miniature Smooth Dachshund Eng. Ch. D’Arisca I Do Declare, another British dog, is bred and owned by Lovaine Coxson, who established her D’Arisca kennel in 1959. This fellow is a black and tan. Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund Stargang Czarina is owned in the U.K. by Heather Blackburn-Bennett, who is a third-generation Dachshund breeder, her grandmother having begun Stargang in 1966. Her mother, Joanne Blackburn-Bennett, breeds today under the Shardagang prefix with husband John.

In the U.K. the Finnish Spitz is in the Hound Group, and today’s BOB winner, Eng. Ir. Ch. Kunniakas Look No Further for Whittimere, made the cut. ‘Rigsby’ won his first BOB at Crufts in 2010 when he was just 10 months old. Bred by Ian and Lucy Byrne, he is owned by Robert Greaves and Nicola and William Croxford. He is reportedly the only Finnish Spitz ever to win a Best in Show at a U.K. Championship show.

Group Third was awarded to Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund Stargang Czarina.

Norwegian Elkhound Best of Breed winner Eng. Ir. Ch. Kestos I Spy at Graythor won the Group at Crufts in 2006, and his breed win today was from the Veteran class. ‘Kris’ is owned by Brian and Linda Middleton. Last year another Kestos Elkhound, Kestos Ziva, bred and owned by Mrs. B.R. Stokes, won the breed from the Special Puppy class, quite an accomplishment at Crufts.

Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Eng. Ch. Soletrader Peek A Boo is also a former Crufts Group winner. Bred and owned by Gavin and Sarah Robertson and handled by Gavin, ‘Jilly’ was second in the Group last year, but Group First and Reserve BIS in 2011. She was Top Dog of all breeds in England last year, and Top Hound in 2011. Her mother, Eng. Ch. Soletrader My Aphrodisiac, was for quite some time the top Group-winning PBGV of all time in the U.K., although I wonder if now Jilly hasn’t taken over that record? We’ll check on that and let you know. ‘Dizzy’ placed second in the Group at Crufts, in 2009.

Jimanns Jiggy Jiggy was the Rhodesian Ridgeback BOB winner and made Mr. Reynolds-Frost’s cut. ‘Prada’ is bred and owned by Anne Harrower of Scotland. Prada’s sire, multi-Ch. Walamadengie Awesome, is a champion in five countries.

Veteran Norwegian Elkhound Eng. Ir. Ch. Kestos I Spy at Graythor was fourth in the Group this year.

The last Hound to make the cut was Eng. Ch. Shalfleet Simply A Lord. Shalfleet is a name recognized around the world, having produced champion Greyhounds and Whippets since the early 1950s, first under the guidance of Barbara (Odell) Wilton-Clark and now Jane Wilton-Clark. The kennel has produced at least 36 champions that have won more than 230 CCs over the years, something very few kennels can claim in Great Britain.

When the dust settled and the Hound Group was finished, Jilly the PBGV stood in first, with the Whippet second, the Mini Wire Dachshund third and the Norwegian Elkhound fourth.

Complete results for all of the breeds judged today can be found here. Two Groups of seven are now done, and if the level of competition today is an indication of what’s to come, the next three days will be very enjoyable!