Following the cancellation last year due to the pandemic, the world’s largest dog show – Crufts – is making a welcome return. Taking place from the 10th to the 13th of March at the Birmingham NEC, over 16,000 dogs will compete for the coveted Best in Show award, alongside agility and heelwork to music events, working dog and guide dog trials, and obedience tests. Live broadcast coverage will be on Channel 4 and More4, hosted by Clare Balding, Radzi Chinyanganya and disability campaigner Sophie Morgan.

The World’s Largest Dog Show

The first Crufts international dog show was held in London in 1891. Around 100 years later Crufts officially received the title of the largest dog show in the Guinness Book of World Records, with over 22,973 dogs entering the competition. Yet despite its age, Crufts is still regarded with prestige and people are travelling from all around the world to see some of the best dogs compete. This show is now considered a cultural event, but do you know how it started?

Supported by Queen Victoria

It was Charles Cruft, a travelling dog biscuit salesman who started the show. He was experienced in working at dog shows, as he promoted the canine section at the Paris exhibition in 1889. His first show was called ‘Cruft’s Greatest Dog Show’ and had over 2,500 entries. It was so popular that even Queen Victoria herself entered her dogs into the competition, winning three categories, including first prize for her Pomeranian Gena.

To celebrate Cruft’s 131st anniversary, leading pet insurer petGuard has researched the history of this renowned event celebrating every aspect of the role dogs play in our lives.

In 1928, the show added the famous Best in Show category. The event continued to grow, with over 10,000 entries and 80 different breeds attending in 1936. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Cruft named that year’s show as the ‘Jubilee Show’.

A Cultural Event with a Worldwide Following

Yet the Second World War would interrupt Crufts, and another show would not happen again until 1948. Unfortunately, by this time, Charles Cruft had passed away in 1938, and his wife sold the show to The Kennel Club in 1942, who have organised Crufts ever since.

Under its new owners Crufts continued to flourish. In 1979 the show moved to the Earls Court exhibition centre due to the increasing number of entries and guests. To help accommodate this rise in attendees the show’s length was increased to three days in 1982, and then to four days in 1987.

Head of Marketing, Alex Bennett said: “Crufts is now considered a cultural event with a worldwide following, but sadly many people are unaware of its history. Crufts 131st anniversary is a great reason to celebrate its full story.”

At petGuard we believe the largest dog show should be recognised for its success.