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Reflections on Crufts 2024

I have been attending Crufts for 20 years, first as a member of the public, then showing my GLP and helping on the Discover Dogs stand. This year, I felt a little bit uneasy being there.

The Good:

Crufts remains a vibrant gathering where dog lovers can revel in the sheer diversity of breeds and dog sports. The agility and obedience competitions inspire me to do more (so would the HTM & Freestyle, but I am a terrible dancer!). I am impressed at the speed of flyball and the precision in which the dogs crossover, but I’ll be honest, I find the level of noise and chaos overwhelming.

The Bad:

Shopping Shifts: From Bargains to Boutiques
Once upon a time, Crufts was a haven for savvy shoppers seeking dog-related bargains. Everything a dog enthusiast could desire was available at reasonable prices. However, in recent years, the shopping experience has morphed into something akin to a high-end boutique. Luxury goods, designer outfits, and even eyebrow bars have taken centre stage. I find it disappointing and that’s been reflected in my shopping haul this year (of three items). And to the guy on the Hair Straightening stall who helped himself to straightening my hair…that was just weird!

Lackluster TV Coverage
Crufts deserves better television coverage. More coverage of sports – those who have qualified for Crufts deserve to show the world their achievements. More explanations of ‘how to find a good dog trainer’ and why people should train with rewards – the Kennel Club should be thrusting ethical reward based training into the limelight. I’m always left feeling like I can’t be bothered to watch Crufts on the T.V because it doesn’t reflect the show itself. It’s too much marketing and not enough dogs.

Breeding Ethics: A Slow Climb
Brachycephalic breeds, with their ‘adorable’ squished faces, have gained popularity. Yet, their health woes persist. Crufts should be at the forefront of promoting ethical breeding practices. While progress is being made, it’s not enough. We need stricter guidelines to ensure the well-being of these breeds. Responsible breeding means prioritizing health over exaggerated features.

Nervous Temperaments and Handling
As dogs strut their stuff in the ring, it’s easy to notice some of them displaying huge signs of stress. Nervous temperaments are concerning. Handlers must prioritize their dogs’ emotional well-being, if your dog isn’t happy in the ring or having the judge go over them, don’t put them in the ring! I saw some shocking handling this year too. There are clearly many dogs that thrive being in the show ring with their handler and love the attention (mine did). BUT…can we replace the frantic tugging of thin check-style leads with gentler, more respectful handling techniques. It really isn’t hard to teach a dog to stand without constantly choking them…or yanking at the lips as I saw. 

Call for Balance
Crufts is a spectacle – a dazzling showcase of canine beauty, athleticism, and companionship. But it’s also a platform for change. Let’s celebrate our dogs while advocating for improvements. Bring back the bargains, enhance TV coverage, champion ethical breeding, and treat our dogs with a little more kindness and respect.

#crufts #crufts2024 #dogshowing #dogagility #dogflyball #dogobedience #NEC #dogheelworktomusic #dogfreestyle

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