I went to the Crufts dog show in England from March 8-11, and watched about a bazillion Golden Retrievers in the breed ring on Thursday.They aren’t kidding when they say Crufts is the world’s biggest dog show– it was HUGE with over 23,000 dogs entered. The Golden Retriever breed entry was the largest at over 600 dogs, and was separated into two rings (next to each other) running at the same time with two judges. Judging of Goldens went on the entire day, so it would have been impossible to see any other Gundog breed judging since they all generally start at the same time.
Ring procedure was generally the same, and most people seemed to be owner-handlers. There are a large number of classes, for younger dogs of different ages, then classes competing at different levels of achievement. You actually can see the overall quality of the dogs in the classes improving as it goes up in achievement level.
My impression at the breed ring: I found many of the Goldens there to have good breed type, front assemblies, and substance. They generally had correct coats (almost none were “dripping in coat”), lovely heads/expression, and temperaments seemed good. Most were light to light-medium gold in color. Compared to the Goldens here they were weaker on rears and movement, with some exceptions. Just like here, they had their fair share of longer cast dogs and those short on leg.
Watching the Gundog group on Thursday evening– there were some great breed representatives there. The Flatcoat (Group winner) was amazing and moved like a dream. The BIS winner – Tibetan Terrier (also an American CH) was gorgeous and very deserving, although I would have been thrilled to see the Flatcoat win!
The shopping there was tremendous– dog product heaven. On Saturday it was so crowded that one could only shuffle around. With the exchange rate being so bad, though, it was almost prohibitively expensive to shop — everything was almost double the price.
There were tons of activities for everyone. Freestyle dancing competitions, agility, obedience, flyball, YKC (Young Kennel Club events), dog safety, etc… I spent a good amount of time watching (and taping) the agility events. The agility handlers competing there did a great job of working every bit of the course. They worked just about as hard as the dogs! The US competitor (Marcus Topps with his border collie Juice) did a fantastic job in the International Invitational competition and we all cheered him on.
Here is a link to a bunch of Crufts photos and videos on the BBC site: