Crufts Dog Show

Crufts is the greatest dog event in the world! Organised by The Kennel Club, the show celebrates every aspect of the role that dogs play in our lives.
Crufts has changed in ways that couldn't possibly have been imagined when the show was set up in Victorian times by the late Charles Cruft. Although it was a very different event in 1891, Charles Cruft was a great showman and would surely have enjoyed the size and scope of the event today, which has become an essential date in any dog lover's calendar.

Charles Cruft
Charles Cruft, 1931

Crufts is named after its founder Charles Cruft. In 1876, young Charles left college with no desire to join the family jewellery business. Instead he took employment with James Spratt who had set up a new venture in Holborn, London, selling dog biscuits.

Spratt's Plakat
Spratts poster ca. 1909 by Auguste Roubille.

Charles first became involved with dogs when he began to work at Spratt's. For buyers of their dog food Spratt's issued a series of collector cards. In 1910, for example, there was a series of 12 "Prize Dogs" and in 1926 a series of 36 "Champion Dogs". Today, these cards are sought-after collector's items.

"Prize Dogs", 1910

"Champion Dogs", 1926

Charles was ambitious and a relatively short apprenticeship as an office boy led to a promotion to travelling salesman in Europe and here in 1878, French dog breeders, perhaps seeing entrepreneurial talents in Cruft, invited him to organise the promotion of the canine section of the Word Exhibition in Paris.

After running dog shows in London for four years, he ran his first Cruft's dog show for all breeds in 1891 in the Royal Agricultural Hall in Islington with 2,437 entries and 36 breeds. He ran a further 45 shows (1918-20 there is no Cruft's) until his death in 1938 and his widow, Emma Cruft, takes over.
After running the show in 1939, Mrs Cruft sold the show to The Kennel Club. However due to World War II, it wasn't until 1948 when they ran the show for the first time. Held at Olympia, it proved an immediate success with both exhibitors and the public, with 84 breeds entered, almost double the number of breeds at the first Cruft's in 1891. It has evolved and grown ever since.

The show remains being called Cruft's until 1974, when during a rebrand the apostrophe was dropped, resulting in the show being called Crufts, which it continues to be called to the present.

1979, the show moves to Earls Court as the increasing number of entries had the show outgrowing its former venue at Olympia.

Advert Crufts Olympia
Crufts Olympia

1982, the show is extended to three days to accommodate the increasing numbers of dogs and spectators.
Five years later in 1987, the show is extended to four days to accommodate further increases in the number of dogs and spectators.
Except for 1949 and 1953, the show took place every year, steadily increasing in numbers of dogs and visitors.

Crufts Logo, old

For many years - until 2010 - the Cruft' logo showed a Saint Bernard, one of the most popular breeds in England until the end of the 19th century and one of Charles Cruft's favourites. In 1892, the crown was added, probably as a symbol for the trust expressed by the royals by showing their dogs on Crufts.

1991, Crufts centenary show is held at its new venue, the Birmingham National Exhibition Centre - the first time the show had moved from London - with 23,000 exhibited dogs (166 breeds). It is held there in the month of March ever since.

Crufts BIS trophy
"The Keddell Memorial Trophy" for Best in Show

The coveted title of Best in Show was awarded for the first time in 1928. The enormous silver cup, "The Keddell Memorial Trophy", standing 34 inches (86 cm) high, including base, and weighing 18.75 lbs (8.5 kg), dates back to 1925. Originally it was for the Best of Breed, the breeds taking turns every year. Since 1948, the precious trophy is awarded to Best in Show.