The owner of the controversial Crufts best in breed winner at this year's show has hit back against criticism of her dog’s supposed deformed back.
The Kennel Club, which organises the dog show, received hundreds of complaints following the footage of Cruaghaire Catoria, which showed the dog in the arena with a sloping back and a deformed gait.
The owner of three-year-old dog, Susan Cuthbert, who was also criticised, issued a statement describing the incident as "the worst nightmare of my show life".
Ms Cuthbert added she was "both deeply shocked and terribly upset" by the public’s response, describing the comments as "horrendous".
The statement went to on say: "Words cannot express the heart-wrenching experience that I have suffered.
"This is so unreal I want to believe it is untrue and to wake up. The comments made on television about my lovely shepherd were unbelievable especially when one considers the brevity of the images.
"How can you judge a dog on such a brief observation? There is a clear lack of tolerance and knowledge of our German shepherd breed.
"It should not be a surprise to anyone why the GSD bred in the UK are being strongly drawn towards the German SV system – Germany being the founders of our breed just over a hundred years ago and they have established the most comprehensive system of any other breed in the world.
"At Crufts 2016, the vet examined my bitch before she was presented with her Best of Breed certificate and deemed her to have no visible condition which adversely affects her health and welfare.
"This is the second Kennel Club required vet check she has passed in the last six months.
"As if it was not upsetting enough that my bitch faltered under the heavy media coverage in the arena on what should have been the happiest day of my show life to then be tried and convicted on social media and the press, this has now become the worst nightmare of my show life."
Along with her statement, the owner also shared a letter from the Kennel Club, confirming the dog had a clean bill of health and a summary of the dog’s achievements, which dated back to 2013.
Viewers took to social media to condemn the competition and questioning how the dog was allowed to enter.
The dog's sloped back of show-line dogs is different to the work-line dog backs, which generally have straighter backs.
The BBC's documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, highligted the difference between the two breeds of German shepherd in 2008.
Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko, said: "It’s very disheartening to see one breed looking so very peculiarly out-of-step with the others."
She added the club will look into whether judges were disregarding rules.
The RSPCA said it was "shocked and appalled" to see a German shepherd with "such poor conformation that it could not move freely winning Best of Breed".
The statement said: "We would question how the dog had been allowed to have qualified for Crufts.
"."Fault cannot lie solely with the judge at Crufts but is also the responsibility of those who have previously awarded this dog."
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