In pictures: 25,000 dogs line up for Crufts (and 'Scruffts' for mongrels) as officials bow to pressure over hairspray

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Crufts, Britain's annual festival of all things canine, opened today with a distinctly international flavour, with more than 2,000 dogs from overseas joining their British counterparts in Birmingham.

In total, more than 25,000 dogs will take part in this year's show. London 2012, with its meagre tally of 11,000 athletes, pales in comparison. Competitors from 41 countries will take part, with dogs from some countries as far afield as India, Indonesia and Malaysia being represented for the first time.

And like the Olympics, Crufts has its controversies over “performance-enhancing” substances.

A blazing row between competitors and the Kennel Club, which manages Crufts, over whether dogs entered into “beauty” events should be allowed to be doused in hairspray, or even touched up with chalk, threatened to derail this year's competition.

Competitors have claimed that a little bit of spray around the head to stop long hair getting in a dog's face was standard practice at other dog shows, but officially it is against decades-old Crufts rules that ban artificial enhancers.

Opponents who organised themselves into a group called the “Elnett revolutionaires”, after a brand of hairspray, said that sending a poodle into competition without hairspray was “like Miss World being made to go on without her make-up.”

In a bid to catch cheats, judges introduced spot-checks in 2011, but have now bowed to pressure and suspended testing. A new code of practice is expected to be in place by next year, for the first time officially permitting hairspray to be used sparingly around the head and face, and for white dogs to be cleaned with a chalk.

In another first, this year's show will be the first to showcase the best of Britain's mongrels, hosting the final of the “Scruffts” competition for cross-breeds for the first time. With pedigree dogs not allowed to enter, the alternative Kennel Club competition has celebrated the more humble qualities of temperament and character in family dogs with mixed heritage since 2000, but has never been a part of the main Crufts show.

Four dogs – the winners of national heats – will go head-to-head for the prize of Scruffts champion tomorrow.

The inclusion of cross-breeds comes five years after the RSPCA withdrew its support for Crufts, responding to a wealth of scientific evidence to show that the selective breeding of pedigree dogs perpetuates inherited health problems. Around one in four pure-bred dogs suffer from congenital defects such as epilepsy, heart disease and hyperthyroidism. Other breeds develop health problems associated with bred-in features. Dachsunds, for example, a particularly vulnerable to spinal problems, while Cavalier King Charles spaniels, which are bred to have skulls that are nearly flat on top, often suffer from syringomyelia, a condition caused by their skull being too small for their brain.

Crufts says that judges are “trained to ensure that only healthy dogs win prizes, which in turn encourages the breeding of healthy dogs.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridgeface-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas