Meeting new faces, old friends and canine heroes at Crufts 2020

Whether you like to visit the world’s greatest dog show in person, or catch the highlights on TV, there’s always something new for the canine connoisseur to discover...

Posted: 04 March 2020

Meeting new faces, old friends and canine heroes at Crufts 2020


Crufts, undisputedly the world’s greatest celebration of dogs, returns to the NEC in Birmingham from 5 – 8 March. The four-day event, which attracts more than 150,000 people and over 27,000 dogs, boasts a diverse programme of canine competitions – and today, it’s not just for pedigree dogs. 

Along with all the tail-wagging heats, which lead up to the nail-biting ‘Best is Show’ announcement, there are opportunities for hundreds of crossbreeds to shine in events such as Agility, Flyball and Heelwork to Music, along with the wonderful Friends for Life competition, which recognises unsung canine heroes. 


The breed with the most ‘Best in Show’ titles is the Cocker Spaniel, with seven wins.

In the line of duty

Last year’s winner was Retired Police Dog Finn, who was stabbed several times as he protected his handler, PC Dave Wardell, from an armed attack in 2016, saving his life. Finn was badly injured and his fight for his life led the duo to launch the ‘Finns Law’ campaign, highlighting the value of all service animals and the injustice of their treatment in the law.

Speaking about their win, Dave said: “I can’t believe it. I feel so emotional. Just by being here we had won already. It has been a culmination of years of campaigning to get Finn’s story heard.” Dave donated their £5,000 prize money from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to German Shepherd Rescue Elite.

Everyone’s a winner

The finalists in 2020 (pictured above) are: Sean and Barrie – Rescue Dog Hero, Lyndsay and Leo – Child’s Champion, Graham and Jovi – Hero Support Dog, Hayley and Ellie – Best Friends and PC Louise McMullen and Wolfie – Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog. You can find out more about their stories here >>. Who’ll be the 2020 Friends for Life champion? They’re all winners in our eyes...


The 2019 ‘Best in Show’ champion was Dylan, a Papillon – the first time this breed has won the coveted Crufts award. The Papillon is known as the’ dainty butterfly dog of France and Belgium’ due to its well- feathered alert ears that resemble the spread wings of a butterfly.

Discovering dogs

As well as celebrating all manner of canine achievements, at the Discover Dogs area, there’s also the opportunity to talk to Kennel Club Assured Breeders, rescue charities and breed experts about how to responsibly buy, train and enjoy life with a dog.

This year, the Harrier – an ancient, medium-sized British scenthound breed, recognised by the Kennel Club from 1 January 2020 – will be making its debut at the show. Described as being like a small Foxhound but larger than a Beagle, the breed was originally used for trailing hares, and it’s believed that this is where the Harrier derived its name – ‘hare’ hound.

Raising awareness of vulnerable ancient breeds

The Harrier is bound to be a hit with fans of ancient British and Irish breeds – many of which are now, sadly, extremely rare. To raise awareness of this fact, Crufts 2020 is hosting the final of the Kennel Club Vulnerable British and Irish Breeds Competition. 


In 2019, 29 breeds fell into the Kennel Club Vulnerable British and Irish Breeds category, having generated 300 or fewer puppy registrations in the UK in the previous year.

The finalists include these marvellous vintage breeds: Bearded Collie, Bloodhound, Bull Terrier (Miniature), Collie (Smooth), Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Deerhound, English Setter, English Toy Terrier (Black & Tan), Fox Terrier (Smooth), Glen of Imaal Terrier, Gordon Setter, Irish Red & White Setter, Irish Wolfhound, King Charles Spaniel, and Kerry Blue Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Lancashire Heeler, Manchester Terrier, Mastiff, Norwich Terrier, Otterhound, Retriever (Curly Coated), Sealyham Terrier, Skye Terrier, Spaniel (Clumber), Spaniel (Field), Spaniel (Irish Water), Spaniel (Sussex) and Welsh Corgi (Cardigan).

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be able to showcase these special breeds in this way, and would urge visitors who may be interested in acquiring one of these breeds to also spend time in the Discover Dogs area of Crufts where the dogs can be met at close quarters. Meeting the breeders in this way is always a great way to find out if a breed is suitable for a particular family’s lifestyle.” 

  • If you’d like to find out more about vulnerable British and Irish breeds who desperately need more supporters, visit the Kennel Club website >>

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