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Crufts 2015: Top dogs take to the catwalk

Dogs Image copyright PA
Image caption Dogs are primped and preened before taking to the show ring

The famous green carpet has been rolled out Oscars-style in Birmingham as canine competitors arrived for what is billed as The Greatest Dog Show on Earth - Crufts.

Almost 21,500 dogs will compete this year, with the number of dogs from overseas reaching 2,987, coming from 43 countries. There are 332 more dogs than last year, and for the first time, entrants from South Africa and South Korea.

Image copyright joe giddens
Image caption Fashions change - An Afghan Hound models a smart raincoat outside the Crufts Dog Show at the Olympia Stadium in the 1950s, while Reuben the Springer Spaniel waits outside the NEC in Birmingham in his rather more relaxed onesie on the first day of the 2015 show
Image copyright Joe Giddens
Image caption A Cocker Spaniel peers out from his pen - it is the most successful breed to win Best in Show, with seven titles

The most represented breeds this year are Labrador Retrievers, with 549 entrants, and Golden Retrievers, with 532.

There is just one Hungarian Kuvasz, six Greenland Dogs, seven Turkish Kangal Dogs and nine Canaan Dogs.

The exhibition covers more than 25 acres of the NEC in Birmingham - the equivalent of about 14 football pitches.

Image copyright Joe Giddens
Image caption Dogs arrive for day one of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One Hungarian Kuvaz (l) will be shown at 2015 Crufts - the first time in five years, while there will be nine Canaan Dogs (r)

Crufts through the years: 1891 - 1938

  • 1891 - The first Cruft's show in that name takes place at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington with 2,437 entries and 36 breeds.
  • 1914 - Suspended for the duration of World War One
  • 1928 - Best in Show award starts. The first winner is a Greyhound called Primley Sceptre
  • 1936 - The show breaks the 10,000 entries mark for the first time
  • 1938 - Charles Cruft dies. His widow, Emma Cruft takes over the running of the show
Image copyright Joe Giddens
Image caption Golden retrievers Lady (left) and Yoda (right) wait outside before day one of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham

The Kennel Club has an artist in residence who paints each year's Best in Show. The completed work is then presented at the following year's show to the Chairman of the Kennel Club Arts Foundation, before going on display at the Kennel Club in London.

Painter Paul Doyle described his rendition of the 2014 champion Afterglow Maverick Sabre (known as Ricky) as "capturing something of [the dog's] quiet yet commanding nature."

Image copyright Joe Giddens
Image caption About 21,500 dogs are due to compete at this year's Crufts, which lasts for four days and is streamed live on the internet

Crufts through the years: 1942 - 1961

  • 1942-7 - Show is not held due to World War Two
  • 1948 - Cruft's moves to Olympia
  • 1950 - Cruft's first televised by the BBC
  • 1954 - Electricians' strike action leads to the show being cancelled
  • 1961 - Entries break the 15,000 mark for the first time
Image copyright None
Image caption Charles Cruft became interested in dogs after getting a job as a dog-biscuit salesman

The man behind Crufts

Founder Charles Cruft left college in 1876 and, rather than join the family jewellery business, he became an office boy at Spratts - a new venture in London selling "dog cakes", now known as dog biscuits.

He worked his way up to become a travelling salesman, peddling his wares across Europe and helping promote the canine section of the Paris Exhibition.

Back in England in 1886 Cruft took up the management of the Allied Terrier Club Show at the Royal Aquarium in Westminster.

In 1891 the first Cruft's show was booked into the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington and it has evolved and grown ever since.

The show lost its apostrophe in 1974, becoming Crufts.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Transport for dogs arriving at Crufts in 2015 bears a distinct similarity to that used in the 1930s

Crufts through the years: 1974 - 1987

  • 1974 - Cruft's is rebranded to Crufts, as it is decided that the apostrophe is no longer needed
  • 1974 - The show takes place under subdued lighting and with an abbreviated catalogue due to the three-day working week which had been enforced due to a power crisis
  • 1982-1987 The show is extended to three, then four days to accommodate the increasing numbers of dogs and spectators
Image copyright Daily Herald Archive/SSPL
Image caption A little girl introduces her toy dog to a Pyrenean Mountain dog on the first day of Cruft's, 1937

The Kennel Club has run the competition since 1948, when it was held at the Olympia Stadium in London.

The annual event was suspended for both World War One and World War Two, while the death of King George VI on 6 February 1952 led to the cancellation of the beginning of the show - it went ahead two days later.

Image copyright PA
Image caption A Dalmatian has been Best in Show once - Fanhill Faune in 1968

Crufts through the years: 1991 - 2015

  • 1991 - Crufts moves to the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre
  • 2001 - Show moves from March to May due to foot and mouth disease
  • 2009 - Judges are given the power to remove unhealthy dogs from the show ring
  • 2010 - Channel 4 becomes the show's broadcaster
  • 2015 - Highest ever number of overseas entrants
Image copyright PA
Image copyright Joe Giddens
Image caption Exhibitors give their dogs last-minute grooming and make sure they are ready for the ring

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