All About Crufts: Where Every Dog Has Its Day

Posted by Billy Francis

More than 27,000 competing canines and 150,000 audience members will attend the Crufts dog show this year. Held at the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre from March 5 through 8, the United Kingdom’s biggest pageant for pups brings dog lovers together to witness some of the most talented and beautiful pedigrees on the planet.

Unfortunately, dogs who aren’t participating can’t attend Crufts. A furry frontrunner might be distracted by your scintillating Shiba Inu and miss a vital step. But that doesn’t mean you both can’t enjoy the show. Fido can watch events unfold on Crufts' YouTube channel from the comfort of a nearby pet-friendly hotel. For humans, general admission tickets start at just GBP £15 (about $20 USD) and can be purchased online or at the door.

The “Tail” So Far

“I said I wanted to watch Lassie, not lasso!” Photo by

In 1891, 14 years after The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show first began in New York, the inaugural Crufts competition was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall in London. Charles Cruft, a general manager for a dog biscuit manufacturer, created the show. Ironically, Cruft himself preferred cats. After failed attempts to expand the show to include felines in 1894 and 1895, he decided to stick to what he knew best, Fido (sorry, Fifi). These days the show is hosted by The Kennel Club, the oldest club of its type in the world.

Easy “Breed-sy”

“You’re seriously putting me up against that wiener?” Photo by Poustie

Every year, Crufts attracts competitors from 200 different dog breeds. Why not say hello to all of them in the Discover Dogs area? Here, visitors can gain first-hand advice on grooming and training from experts in each breed. While you meet and greet the adorable pooches, judges have the difficult task of deciding which participants deserve to be awarded “Best in Breed.” The winners then battle it out for the accolade of “Best in Group.” There are seven groups at Crufts: Toys, Utility, Terriers, Working, Gundogs, Pastoral and Hounds. How can anybody compare a Dachshund to an Afghan Hound? Well, that’s just one of the difficult conundrums that the judges face.

Best in Show

Dylan the Papillon was crowned “Best in Show” in 2019. Photo by

The seven canines awarded “Best in Group” find themselves on the shortlist for the grand prize, “Best in Show.” Expert judge Mrs. E.A. Macdonald, who has been selected to award this year’s prize, will cast an even more cautious eye over the remaining dogs’ balance, coat, color, eyes, gait and more. Whoever she decides is the winner will walk home with a replica of the Keddall Memorial Trophy and the unbelievable sum of GBP £100 (about $130 USD). It might not seem like much, but canines often make money through sponsorship deals after winning. Cocker Spaniels might be feeling unusually relaxed when heading into the “Best in Show” judging. Dogs belonging to this floppy-eared breed have received the award seven times, more than any other breed in the competition’s history.

Showing Off

Jumping for joy. Photo by

Does your pup garner admiring glances at the park? If so, the world of dog-showing could be on the horizon. Also known as exhibiting, the main event at Crufts compares dogs to their breed standards, but it’s not the only way to get onto the main stage at the contest. Crowds are entertained all day by bounding Boxers and leaping Labradors in events like Agility, Heelwork to Music and Flyball. Between competitions, choreographed routines keep people glued to seats and screens at home. In addition, the remarkable talents of lifesaving dogs, including Medical Detection Dogs, West Midlands Police and Lowland Search and Rescue, demonstrate how Fido is much more than just a pretty face.


Imperfection is the new perfection! Photo by

Dog shows are often criticized for being too elite. In 2000, the Kennel Club decided to let its hair down by hosting the first-ever “Scruffts” competition. Designed for amazing rescue pups, incredible underbites and the magnificent mutts who light up our lives, this laidback contest costs just GBP £2 to enter an initial heat. Scruffts categories are Most Handsome, Good Citizen, Prettiest Bitch and Golden Oldie (for dogs over 8). The 24 finalists receive something that money can’t buy: crossbreed entry into Crufts for the Scruffts Final on Saturday, March 7.

Pet-Friendly Hotels for Handsome Hounds

“I can’t eat with you guys watching. Actually, I take that back.” Photo by

Birmingham NEC is located near four awesome pet-friendly hotels, which are usually packed full of pedigree guests during competition time. Even if Fido can’t attend the show, see if you can secure him a “paw-tograph” from his favorite competitor.

Novotel Birmingham Airport

Bring Fido to the Novotel Birmingham Airport, a mile away from the NEC. In the evening, grab a rideshare into town and explore some of the sights of England’s second city. Digbeth Dining Club lets food connoisseurs taste cuisine from around the world in one food truck park. Nightly rates during Crufts start at GBP £211.

Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport

When you’re not admiring the shiny coats on display at Crufts, relax at the Holiday Inn Birmingham Airport, where Fido can even join you for a drink at the bar. While you’re in the area, take a walk with your pooch around Elmdon Park and see if you can spot the old chestnut tree that has been around for more than 500 years. Nightly rates during Crufts start at GBP £162.

Best Western Plus Manor Hotel Meriden

Best Western Plus Manor Hotel Meriden is ideal for winding down after a day’s excitement at Crufts. The well-kept grounds include a nice garden that you can explore with your pooch. Nightly rates during Crufts start at GBP £159.

Holiday Inn Express Birmingham NEC

Located less than 10 minutes from the NEC, the pet-friendly Holiday Inn Express Birmingham NEC is the most convenient place to stay in the area. Nightly rates during Crufts start at GBP £165.

Is Fido more Scruffts than Crufts? Which prize can you see him winning in the future? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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