Crufts Sponsorships, Coat Testing and Terrier Imports at the Top

British Connection, Dogs in Review June 2011


If you have been to Crufts for the last two years I’m sure you must have noticed that the event has had a new name, “dfs Crufts.” For the first time in its history, Crufts had a “title sponsor,” as do so many other major sporting events in the calendar.

Up to 2008 the show’s principal supporter was the dog food company Pedigree. Suddenly the company withdrew from all its commitments to the dog show world in the United Kingdom — whether it was entirely coincidence that this was around the time of the TV program Pedigree Dogs Exposed, no one is quite sure.

So the Kennel Club’s 2009 show lacked a major sponsor. Everyone coped, but the implications for the finances of the show gave much concern. Thankfully the furniture company dfs (formerly Direct Furnishing Supplies) stepped in — its founder and chairman Lord Kirkham was a Dalmatian enthusiast and already involved in the show scene through his connection with Driffield championship show.

Some wondered whether having a company not directly involved with dogs as the main supporter would detract from the show; in the event they need not have worried as, apart from having its name on the title, dfs’ presence was relatively low key and certainly not intrusive. Hopes were high for a long-term commitment, but then came news that Lord Kirkham had sold the company.

Would the new owners have the same personal interest in pedigree dogs, so that they would wish to continue their support for Crufts? Sadly, the answer would appear to be no: dfs continued to back Crufts 2011, but a month later came the news that a new main sponsor would have to be sought for 2012.

The show’s accounts, revealed to Kennel Club members before their annual meeting each year, illustrate what a difference a major sponsor can make, roughly to the tune of £500,000 (about $814,000) a year, which goes a long way toward helping to ensure that the show is broadcast on television and that it contributes toward the KC’s other activities, including the work of its charitable trust.

So we are all awaiting news of whether a replacement can be found, one who will provide a comparable level of support for the world’s biggest dog show.

In a recent article I discussed the question of coat testing by the Kennel Club. “Random” coat tests on, usually, the CC and Res. CC winners in one sex of certain breeds are sometimes carried out, and at this year’s Crufts the male winners in both West Highland White Terriers and Miniature Poodles were tested.

This always causes controversy, and now one of Britain’s most prominent exhibitors, Michael Gadsby of the Afterglow kennel, famous in several coated breeds, has put forward a motion at the KC members’ annual meeting that testing for powder, lacquer and silicone-based grooming products should be stopped.
Testing dog coats for dyes is another story, and Mike isn’t asking for an end to that, only for an end to tests for things such as hairspray or cleaning products, which in certain breeds are universally used, whatever the rules may say. It will be interesting to see the response — watch this space! There’s also an e-petition on the same subject, which has been signed by many of Britain’s most consistently successful dog exhibitors.

A breed’s numerical strength is definitely no reliable guide to the quality of its top specimens; indeed it’s noticeable that some of the breeds bred in enormous numbers that regularly top the show entry figures very seldom do well at Group level. Conversely, breeds with just a few enthusiasts often seem to come up with a remarkable number of top winners.

This certainly seems to be the case in Britain at the moment. Last month I mentioned the National Terrier victory for a Dandie Dinmont; next we had the Hound Association of Scotland, which was topped by a Finnish Spitz, UK & Ir. Ch. Kunniakas Look No Further for Whittimere, the first of his breed owned by Norwegian Elkhound breeders Robert Greaves and Nicola Croxford and Nicola’s keen young son William.

This is thought to be the first time a Finnish Spitz has topped a Hound championship show in the UK. It’s this young dog’s second Group win; again an unusual achievement for this breed. Indeed, the only other one to win even a single Group for the last 20 years is this dog’s sire UK & Am. Ch. Kunniakas Kovu.

We have enjoyed a wonderful, sunny spring and the show was held happily outdoors at Kelso on the Scottish/English border. From an entry of 802 dogs (855 last year), runner-up BIS under Stuart Milner, one of the partners in the famous Dialynne Beagle kennel, was the Miniature Wire Dachshund Drakesleat Sally Forf, yet another new champion to add to the list from Britain’s most successful champion-producing kennel.

Down to Wales the following week for that country’s Working/Pastoral Group show, where another member of the Dialynne team judged BIS, the kennel’s founder Marion Spavin. She chose the Doberman Pinscher UK & Lux. Ch. Supeta’s Ozzy Osbourne, who had won his fifth Group. He is a consistent winner with an all-breeds reserve BIS to his credit and no fewer than 32 CCs. Sired by a Russian import and with plenty of European ancestry, he’s owned by breeder Sue Mycroft with Sarah Smith and Tracey Bennett.

Incidentally, for many years, especially in the heyday of the great Tavey kennel, British Dobes tended to be of mainly American lines, but in more recent years the fashion has been to use Continental lines instead. Pastoral Group winner and reserve BIS was the recently titled Shetland Sheepdog Ch. Stevlyn Coppersmith at Malaroc. The entry was 1,584 dogs, about 100 down as is the trend of the moment.

Incidentally Marion Spavin has a most unique sense of humor. You can get a sense of it during an interview with this wonderful character that was conducted by Andrew Brace. To obtain the DVD, see for details.

Click here for Part 2


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