Why Crufts Is A Must!!
The worlds biggest dog show is many things; a pageant, a spectacle and a celebration of all things canine, but is also hugely controversial. Every year there are calls for it to be banned and the Kennel Club comes in for huge amounts negative press over some of the dogs in the show ring.
So let me say this. I am a massive fan of Crufts and think far from it being disbanded, as many people as possible should be encouraged to watch the TV footage, follow the on-line debates and visit the NEC to see the extravaganza for themselves.
Why? Because Crufts shines a spotlight on the dog breeding and showing world that otherwise remains hidden from the vast majority of people’s view.
It is this scrutiny from ordinary people, who aren’t involved with or obsessed by the intricacies of the ‘breed standards’, that is able to affect real change. It will improve welfare and bring some much needed common sense to the sometimes blinkered view of this rarefied world.
For example, last year the winning German Shepherd dog had an extremely abnormal hind limb gait. Her back had the slope of a black run and her hind legs appeared to be barely under her control. This, for those in the ‘know’ is considered the most desirable way for a Shepherd to move and, indeed, this dog appeared to be famed for it.
This is the ‘correct’ way for a German Shepherd dog to move, according to the show world. The rest of the world feels differently!
To everyone else, it looked incredibly uncomfortable, faintly ridiculous and clearly problematic. I can tell you that dogs bred like this suffer hugely with painful hip and spinal problems, often at a very young age.
After the footage of this dog was shown on television and across social media, there was a massive outcry from the ‘uninitiated’ and not only was this dog prevented from progressing in the show but this year there has been a missive sent to all judges of the breed that dogs moving like this should be disqualified.
See my point?
Another area where some much needed unbiased views are required is with the brachycephalic, or short nosed, dogs. These breeds are now hugely popular but suffer massively with their breathing because of their smushed in faces.
Now, I have absolutely no doubt that the owners and breeders of these dogs love and care for them deeply. However, because they are so obsessed and so conditioned to what is ‘normal’ they simply cannot see the issues that are obvious to everyone else. They can’t see that their pets are struggling to breath and sleep, that they aren’t ‘naturally lazy’ but that they simply can’t exercise much.
There are health schemes to try to improve the situation but really they are just tinkering with the edges. The judges are commanded to ‘mark down’ more extreme features but still the flattest faces in these dogs are in the show ring, not in our homes where you might expect the ‘less perfect’ versions to be.
The only way to affect real change, and to make life easier for these dogs, is for ordinary people to start making a fuss. To point out to the emperor his clothes are non-existent and restricting his breathing. To start demanding that rather than viewing outcrossing to improve some breeds as a travesty, it should be a necessity.
(Afterall, isn’t that exactly why we have over 200 breeds registered with the British Kennel Club? They didn’t appear out of the tundra fully formed!)
So, come to the show, watch it on the TV, follow on social media. Revel in the fun and the carnival of all things Dog.
There are far more happy, healthy pets here, showing off in all kinds of disciplines, not just in the show ring, than there are ones who are suffering. You can watch them jump, run, point, retrieve, dance, bring down bad guys and help the disabled. You can find out about how to buy a puppy, chose a breed, rescue a dog and support a charity. You can buy anything (and I mean anything) with your chosen breed on, from clothing to toilet roll holders.
But boycott this show we can’t and it mustn’t be banned. For the vast majority of us it is our only window into this world, it shines a light into the shadows and allows the court of public opinion to affect real change in the pedigree dog world, whose ivory towers might otherwise be impenetrable.