It seems that Crufts 2013 went off much better than last year, in large part thanks to the fact that, as far as I can tell, all of the high profile breeds made it through to the Group judging. I found the Groups just filled with extraordinary dogs, at least from what could be seen on screen, and I didn’t envy the judges having to make tough choices.

Best in Show at Crufts 2013 was awarded by Geoff Corish to Gavin Robertson’s Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen Ch. Soletrader Peek a Boo. Photos by Karl Donvil.

The world knows by now that the ultimate winner this year was the 2012 Top Dog of all breeds in the U.K., PBGV Eng. Ch. Soletrader Peek a Boo. As the announcer noted when judge Geoff Corish chose her for the win, this was perhaps the only major event that ‘Jilly’ had not already won in her very successful show career, handled by her breeder/owner Gavin Robertson, who owns her with his wife, Sara, and Wendy Doherty of Canada. Jilly was Reserve BIS at Crufts 2011, and this is such a fitting way for her impressive career to come to a close.

Jilly is of English breeding for a couple of generations, and then we find Dutch, American, Swedish and other countries represented in her pedigree. In the decade or so Gavin has been breeding PBGVs, he has had astonishing success. Jilly’s grandmother, Ch. Willowbrae Amazing Grace, was bred by Judith Robin-Smith and owned by Gavin, who showed her to BOB at Crufts 2001, 18 CCs and Best in Show at the first ever PBGV World Congress, in 2000. ‘Grace’ was the dam of the top Group-winning PBGV of all time in England, Ch. Soletrader My Aphrodisiac. ‘Dizzy’ won 18 Groups and 28 CCs, was Top PBGV from 2005 through 2008 and Top Hound in the U.K. in 2006, and had two Group Seconds at Crufts, bred and owned by Gavin and Sara. And now her daughter has exceeded even that.

Gavin also sent to the U.S. the 2005 Number 1 Hound and the top-winning male PBGV of all time in America, Eng. Am. Ch. Afterglow Woody Woodpecker, bred by Michael Gadsby and Gavin. Gavin showed ‘Woody’ to Number 1 Hound in the U.K. in 2002 before sending him to Clint Livingston for his American career.

The Italian Labrador Retriever, It. Ch. Loch Mor Romeo, was Reserve Best in Show handled by his breeder/owner, Franco Barberi.

Reserve Best in Show went to the Italian Labrador Retriever, It. Ch. Loch Mor Romeo, also breeder/owner-handled, this time by Franco Barberi, who I don’t think ever stopped smiling during the final. I couldn’t help thinking during the BIS judging that Mr. Corish must have been just tickled pink with his lineup. They were all just oozing quality and showmanship, and this beautiful, rock-solid Lab was no exception.

But let’s take a look now at the last two Groups to be judged on the way to the Crufts 2013 final. On the last day the Working and Pastoral breeds were judged prior to Best in Show.

The Working Group

Although the entry numbers didn’t match those of the Gundog Group, there were four Working breeds with more than 200 dogs in competition: 310 Rottweilers, 252 Siberians, 224 Newfoundlands and 223 Bernese Mountain Dogs. In addition there were 199 Dobermanns, as they’re referred to in the U.K., 197 Boxers, 188 Alaskan Malamutes, 178 Leonbergers and 176 Great Danes, so this Group contributed quite a lot to the show’s total entry.

Bernese Mountain Dog Eng. Ch. Meadowpark Whispers Breeze was selected winner of the Working Group by judge Ferelith Somerfield.

 A few breeds in the U.K.’s Working Group are not found in the AKC Group. The Bouvier des Flandres is in Working here instead of Pastoral, and the Canadian Eskimo Dog, Greenland Dog and Hovawart are also found in this Group.

Judging this Group was Ferelith Somerfield, another of the judges from Britain who is so well known and well thought of around the world. I’ve known Ms. Somerfield’s name since childhood, as she inherited the Oudenarde Cairn Terrier breeding program from her mother, Diana Hamilton, and her aunts Helen Hamilton and Margaret Temple. The Oudenarde Cairn I most remember, of course, was Eng. Am. Can. Ch. Oudenarde Sea Hawk, imported to Canada by the legendary Betty Hyslop, who for so many years dominated the breed in North America. He’s one of those dogs whose make and shape are cemented in one’s mind as exactly what the breed should be, but many of the photos of the Oudenarde Cairns make me long so for the old days, when, in my opinion, the breed was so different. Fanciers who want to see what gorgeous Cairns look like should visit the webpage of Britain’s Cairn Terrier Club and feast their eyes on

Midnight Magic, Fancy Light, Sea Hawk and Fair Prospect.

Second in the Working Group went to Bouvier des Flandres Fahrenheit From the Dogsfarm.

But back to the subject at hand. Ms. Somerfield has been involved with other breeds in addition to Cairns, and she awards CCs in 147 breeds. This was actually a sort of repeat performance by her, as she judged the Group at Crufts back in 1988 when the Working and Pastoral Groups were one. She has in fact judged all of the Groups and Best in Show at her country’s most important event, giving you an idea of the esteem in which she is held. She is retiring from judging at the end of this year, so this was her swan song at Crufts.

She made a terrific job of it, with a cut of seven after having examined all of the breed winners. Her first, the Alaskan Malamute Dk. Ch. Inupiat’s Quuniqsuq Jason, was bred in Norway by Turid Teigen and is owned by Danes Toni Chrillesen and Annette Rost, but the majority of his pedigree is from Bob and Nancy Russell’s Storm Kloud kennel in Colorado, with a little Nanuke thrown in alongside a handful of other kennels. ‘Jason’ showed promise early, winning his first Best of Breed at just 9 months of age. If you visit the website of the Inupiat kennel, you’ll find that Jason comes from a family of dogs that do the work they were bred for! Of course, that’s only natural, since the Russells also work their show dogs.

Group Third was won by Rottweiler Eng. Ch. Varenka Maxmillion at Granjolea.

This year’s BOB winner in Bernese Mountain Dogs, Eng. Ch. Meadowpark Whispers Breeze, was also the breed winner last year, and the Meadowpark Berners were Michael Coad’s final winner in the Kennel Club Breeder’s Competition on Saturday. ‘Breeze’ is bred and owned by Mrs. M. Mair and Carol Hartley-Mair and handled by Gary Dybdall, who is a new young veterinarian with the Kingston Veterinary Group. Prior to Crufts this year, Gary said, “The odds are against us winning two years in a row, but that is what we are aiming to do.” And they indeed did win the breed again.

Next in the cut was Bouvier Fahrenheit From the Dogsfarm, bred and owned in the Netherlands by Erik and Joanne Zwoferink. ‘Floyd’ carries an undocked tail, of course, but once you begin to watch him move around the ring the tail is forgotten.

Bullmastiff BOB winner Norw. Dk. Se. Ch. Old Manila’s Little Mill is another foreign dog, bred and owned in Norway by Hilde Kjeldby, who handles her. Hilde and Glenn Hall have bred Bullmastiffs in Norway since 1978, and in spite of being a very small kennel they have had the top Bullmastiff in the country six times since 1996.

Dobermann Grafmax Louis Armstrong won the breed in a huge entry from the Limit class, defeating many champions for the win. ‘Satchmo’ is bred, owned and handled by Sue Thorn. His sire, Lux. Ch. Aritaur Histabraq, is a litter brother to a bitch that was well known in the breed in Ireland and England, Eng. Ir. Ch. Aritaur Hipnotique, the breed record holder for CCs in the U.K., with 28. She was the all-time top-winning Dobermann in the breed in Ireland as well. ‘Zena’ was Number 3 among all breeds in Ireland in 2007, Number 4 in 2006.

The Bullmastiff, Norw. Dk. Se. Ch. Old Manila’s Little Mill, was awarded fourth in the Working Group.

Next in the cut was Rottweiler Eng. Ch. Varenka Maxmillion at Granjolea, owned by Graeme and Ann Leask, and bred in Scotland by Gordon and Irene Rattray, top Rottweiler breeders in the U.K. 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. ‘Max’ has the distinction of being the first U.K.-bred undocked male Rottweiler to gain his champion title, which he did in 2011.

The final dog in the cut is also an import to the U.K., Tibetan Mastiff Int. Lux. Ch. Chodak-Druk du Domaine de Toundra of Heronsview, bred in France by Sandra Haeffele from French, Dutch and English dogs on his sire’s side, and Czech, Chinese and American dogs on his dam’s side. ‘Chodak’ is owned by Richard Gardiner of the U.K. For American readers familiar with Tibetan Mastiffs, his great-grandsire is Drakyi Mufasa, bred by Richard Eichhorn of California, who since the 1980s has traveled around the world studying and procuring Tibetan Mastiffs with which he established the successful Drakyi line, which has produced Group, Best in Show and National Specialty winners in the U.S.

Ms. Somerfield placed first the Meadowpark Berner ‘Breeze,’ with the Bouvier second, Rottweiler third and Bullmastiff fourth.

The Pastoral Group

The last Group entered the ring to be judged by Jeff Luscott. Jeff and his wife, Amanda, have the well-known Jalus Lhasa kennel, and he is an all-round judge. Again the Group at Crufts includes dogs we don’t yet see in our AKC Groups in the U.S. The fourth of the Belgian shepherd dogs, the Laekenois, is one, along with the Estrela Mountain Dog, Lancashire Heeler and Maremma Sheepdog are found in the Group. Two breeds just have different names: the Puli is the Hungarian Puli and the Great Pyrenees is the Pyrenean Mountain Dog. The Samoyed is in this Group instead of the Working Group, as in America.

Australian Shepherd Eng. Ch. Allmark Fifth Avenue, bred and owned by Robert Harlow and Neil Allan, and handled by Angie Allan, was awarded Group First under judge Jeff Luscott.

There were 472 Border Collies, 335 Bearded Collies, 383 Shelties, 278 Rough Collies, 191 Samoyeds, 169 Australian Shepherds, 166 German Shepherds and 158 Pembroke Welsh Corgis entered.

Mr. Luscott kept 10 of his 30 breed winners, the first the Australian Shepherd Eng. Ch. Allmark Fifth Avenue, bred and owned in the U.K. by Robert Harlow and Neil Allan, and handled by Angie Allan.

Next was the Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervuren) Eng. Ch. Domburg Icandy, bred, owned and handled on home turf by Linda Collins. A male from the same kennel, Ch. Domburg The Outlaw, won the dog CC on Sunday, and Domburg All About Me won the Reserve dog CC. The kennel also won the Post-Graduate bitch class. ICandy’s pedigree combines the Domburg line with French breeding.

The Border Collie breed winner, Ch. Eyes of the World Fairy Tale, has so many champion titles that it would be easy to miss one accidentally. She is a champion in Romania, Spain, Luxembourg, Hungary and Germany, at the very least. She is bred and owned by Paul Schevenels of Belgium.

Second in the Pastoral Group went to last year’s Best of Breed winning Shetland Sheepdog, Eng. Ch. Edglonian Singin’ The Blues.

German Shepherd Eng. Ch. Elmo vom Huhnegrab is owned by John and Pauline Cullen. Bred in Germany by Heinz Scheerer and handled in the U.K. by Stephen Cox, ‘Elmo’ was the U.K.’s Number 1 Pastoral dog in 2010, won the Group at Crufts in 2011 and was third in the Group last year. He was Best in Show at Manchester earlier this year.

Old English Sheepdog Eng. Ch. Aryakas Genesis at Beauvallon was bred in Greece by Nikolas Kanales and is owned by Helen Harris. ‘Genna’ isn’t the only winner from the kennel to win at Crufts; Aryakas Cosmo Junior was BOB at Crufts 2007, and Aryakas OES have championship titles in dozens of countries. Am. GCh. Aryakas Hermes, a multiple Group and BIS winner, was Number 2 in the breed in the U.S. last year.

Group Third was awarded to German Shepherd Eng. Ch. Elmo vom Huhnegrab, owned by John and Pauline Cullen.

The Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees to Americans, BOB winner was Eng. Ch. Gillandant Sugar and Spice. ‘Gina’ is bred and owned by Gill and Tony Pollard, who were the U.K.’s top Pyr breeders in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Gina’s sire, however, is all American, though he was exported to the U.K. Bred by Jean and Wayne Boyd, Eng. Am. Ch. Rivergroves Murphy Goode won the National Specialty in the U.S. prior to going to England. There he won 31 CCs, was the U.K.’s top Pyr in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and, like his daughter, won the breed and was shortlisted in the Group in 2009.

The Pyrenean Sheepdog (Long Haired) also made Mr. Luscott’s cut. Friponne du Pic D’Espade Kelltara was bred in France by Norbert Gainche and is owned in the U.K. by Pat and Steve Phillips. She went back to her home country in 2012 for the National Specialty and was graded “excellent.” The Phillips’ Kelltara kennel was home to the breed’s top dog in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The Old English Sheepdog Eng. Ch. Aryakas Genesis at Beauvallon, bred in Greece by Nikolas Kanales and owned by Helen Harris, was fourth in the Group.

Another bitch was next to make the cut when Samoyed Shianise Always Amelia was chosen. Owned by Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd, she was Best of Breed from the Limit Bitch class, a lovely win from that huge entry of 191.

Eng. Ch. Edglonian Singin’ The Blues, bred and owned by Debbie Pearson, was the breed winner in Shelties. The blue merle dog was also Best of Breed last year.

The last to make the cut, and I must say my very favorite choice for the short list in any of the Groups, for personal reasons, was Cardigan Welsh Corgi Am. Ch. Yasashiikuma Telltail Dbledare, who is owned and handled by America’s own Lisa Croft-Elliott. Well, I’m sure that by now the U.K. feels that Lisa belongs to them, but she was ours originally. Lisa co-owns ‘Darren’ with Paula O’Donnell, and he was bred by Shelley Camm in Canada. His sire is the American multiple Best in Show winner, Number 1 Cardigan in 2010, Ch. Twinroc Santa Paws, who was handled by Lois DeMers for Paula O’Donnell.

Mr. Luscott made the Australian Shepherd his winner, followed by the Sheltie, the German Shepherd and the Old English Sheepdog.

And another Crufts has come and gone. Our congratulations to all the winners!