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History of Dog Shows

History of Dog Shows

If you want to know when did dog shows begin, and which is the greatest dog show in the world, then go through the following article. Scroll down to know some interesting facts about dog shows in the world.
Leena Palande
Dogs are the most lovable and loyal pets. Do you know that the domestic dog is the domesticated version of a gray wolf? Since when did human beings start taming wolves? Historical evidence shows that our ancestors started domesticating dogs from gray wolves about 15,000 years before. Perhaps, it was the first animal to be domesticated. For early human colonies, dogs helped in hunting, herding and pulling loads. In ancient times, they worked as police, and in modern times, they assist police and the military forces. Dogs are the best companions, especially for handicapped individuals. Dog owners are always proud of their pets when they participate in dog shows.

Dog Shows Information

A conformation dog show is arranged to see whether the dogs exhibit the established breed standards for their breed. This type of show helps assess the qualities of an individual purebred dog. During this show, dogs are not compared to each other. A conformation show is also known as a 'breed show'. Only the external qualities of the dog, like its looks, gait and disposition, are taken into consideration during a breed show.

In London, The 'Kennel Club' (KC) was formed in 1873. The club hosts an annual international championship conformation show for dogs (Crufts). These days, it is organized in the month of March every year, at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham. According to the Guinness World Records, this is the largest annual dog show in the world. In 1991, the show had nearly 23,000 participants, and was then considered as the world's largest annual dog show. These days, around 28,000 dogs participate in Crufts each year. It has been estimated that about 160,000 visitors enjoy the show every year. Various competitions are held during Crufts. Dogs and dog owners from all over the world look forward to the main competition, and are always eager to know who wins the 'Best in Show' award. Owing to the increasing response of the dog owners, rules about dog show requirements are strictly followed.

On June 28, 1859, a dog show was held in the town of Newcastle, U.K. Only Pointers and Setters participated in this show. The same year, in the month of November, another dog show was held in Birmingham, which included Spaniels as participants. About 80 dogs from 14 classes participated in this show. Since 1860, Hounds started participating. Every year, a dog show is held in Birmingham, and it is considered as the world's oldest surviving dog show.

Charles Cruft, the general manager of a dog biscuit manufacturing company, traveled worldwide and attended various local dog shows. He realized that there is a need to arrange a dog show that would exhibit higher standards. The show 'Crufts' was named after his name. Mr. Cruft arranged his first dog show in 1886, that was named as the 'First Great Terrier Show', which had 57 classes and 600 entries. In 1891, the first show which had the name 'Cruft' in its name, 'Cruft's Greatest Dog Show', was held at the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington. This is supposed to be the first dog show for which all breeds were invited to compete. Around 2,000 dogs participated in this show. The show enjoyed a notable response from dog owners with 2,500 entries.

At the end of the 19th century, Crufts received more than 3000 entries. Dog owners from various European countries have participated in the show every year. The 'Jubilee Show' held in 1936, had 10,650 entries. Around 80 breeds participated in the show. After the death of Charles in 1938, his widow sold the show to The Kennel Club.

The Kennel Club held the first show in 1948 at Olympia in London. In 1955, the first 'Obedience Championship' competition was held. By then, the popularity of the show had increased tremendously. Despite an increase in the entrance fees, there were 13,000+ entries in 1959. They therefore had to change the venue. In 1979, the show was held in the exhibition center 'Earls Court'. In 1982, the duration of the show was increased to three days. In 1987, they had to again change the duration to 'four days', owing to the increasing popularity of the show and increasing number of entries. In 1991, for the first time, the show was held in Birmingham at the National Exhibition Center. Since then, it is being held there.

In a dog show, dogs of same breed compete with each other. Groups are formed according to the age, gender, and previous class wins. Veteran, Special Puppy, Special Junior, Yearling, Postgraduate, Mid Limit, Limit, and Open, are the classes of dogs, and the class winners compete for the 'Dog and Bitch Challenge Certificate', and then finally for the 'Best of Breed'. The best of breeds compete with others in their group. Toys, Gundogs, Utility, Hounds, Working, Pastoral, and Terriers are the groups in the U.K. The seven group winners compete for the 'Best in Show'.

These days, dog shows are held in almost every city. Various kennel clubs or social organizations arrange these shows. They involve dog agility competitions like a hurdle race, obedience competitions, flyball competition (relay races), musical competitions (a mixture of obedience training and freestyle dancing), grooming competitions, etc. Dog shows history points that these shows help boost the sale of dog related items like dog food, belts, feeding bowls, medications, etc. A dog show is the best place for advertising dog related charities. Dog show rules may vary from country to country. The Kennel Club system (U.K.) is followed by the Australian National Kennel Council.

'World Dog Show' is a 'Fédération Cynologique Internationale' dog show, held every year, since 1971. Each year, a different country hosts the show. Here, the judges evaluate the positive and negative qualities of the dog. Only the dogs who are awarded high ratings can compete with each other. The World Show involves awarding International Championships for agility, obedience, junior handler and breed conformation. The show is popular for various other events and demonstrations. Fédération Cynologique Internationale member clubs can participate in the show. The non-member clubs like the American Kennel Club can participate by invitation.

In the US and Canada, a dog is awarded some points (depending upon the group, number of participants, type of the show, etc.); whenever it wins. The dog has to win certain number of points to get a championship. The number of points required may vary according to the kennel club offering the title.

According to the history of dog shows, 'The Westminster' is America's oldest surviving annual dog show. It was first held in 1876 in the Westminster Hotel in New York city, by a small group of dog lovers. The next year, it was held at Gilmore's Gardens on Madison Avenue. The Kentucky Derby was first held on May 17th 1875. About 10,000 people watched and enjoyed the race.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) was founded in 1884 in the city of New York. They formulated new laws and regulations. Since 1887, all AKC records are maintained in The National American Kennel Club's Stud Book. Since the early 1900s, rules of AKC are followed during dog shows.

As we go through the history of dog shows, we come to know how the number of dog owners is increasing day by day, and how people love and admire their dogs, just like their family members. All dog owners consider their dog as part of the family. Various studies have shown that the company of a dog can enhance the physical and mental health of the owner. A dog is indeed 'Man's best friend'. A dog owner just needs to see that the intensive training and the craze for participation in dog shows does not affect the health or well-being of the dog.