Crufts Dog Show - Love it or hate it

Love it or hate it Crufts is the biggest dog show in the world which is held at the NEC Birmingham and is fast approaching. The online entries close soon for dog show exhibitors.
Retail heaven for the doggy owner, with hundreds of stalls from designer dog gear, bling collars, to dog food all the grooming equipment you can image and anything else you haven’t even thought about buying your pet dog is at Crufts. If you are showing your dog you need another day there just to do your shopping.

Setter trimming UK
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Over the four days which Crufts is held there is an estimated 28,000 dogs which take part that’s including the agility and other events and an estimated 160,000 human visitors attend the show too. That is a lot of people although if Gundog Day falls on the Sunday it does feel like there is that many peolpe if you try and venture from your bench to go and look around the stalls.
I love Crufts it is always either on or around my Birthday, the atmosphere around the breed rings is like no other show. If you are lucky enough to win a class with your dog it is just amazing and makes all the hard work and effort you have put into your dog worth while. 

The first time I attended Crufts was in the late 80’s when Crufts was held at Earls Court London, now that day was an experience I’ll never forget believe me!  I travelled all the way down there with my Mum and her friend Sylvia I must of been aged about 10 or 11 we had gone to watch the Irish Setters, so excited as I was going to Crufts for the first time ever.  We had to get the underground to Earls Court, I had never been on the underground before and never wanted to again after that day. A drunk old tramp fell from the top of the escalator and was moved as I got to the bottom, not a nice sight believe me. I felt Ill all day, but I’m sure the man who fell must of felt a lot worse. It’s a long time ago now but I remember meeting Chris Amoo and his Afghan which had won Best In Show the previous year or maybe that was the year later but I do remember getting the Pedigree Chum goodie bag and badge as it was in those days.

When it comes to preparing dogs for Crufts or any show, it is not a case of a good bath and trim the night before. Preparing a dog for a show takes weeks, weeks of regular coat maintenance (for the coated breeds) and its not just the grooming, correct diet, correct amount of food, exercise, all these factors play a huge part in the preparation of a dog for a competition. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to get your dog right for the ring.

 I had entered my dog Travis for Crufts 2018 he’s a Show Champion but hadn’t been shown for a while he was 7 years old so he was eligible for the Veteran class. His coat was in really good condition, he had been groomed regularly but not groomed to perfection ring ready standard in my book. 

Setter dog grooming

I decided December 2017 that I was going to enter Travis for Crufts and show preparation started then. General good coat maintenance throughout that time, followed by cutting him into shape, enhancing his best features watching his weight and making sure he got his exercise through the winter, the mud and rain but kept on top his coat too. 

The hard work paid off I had so many nice comments at Crufts on how well Travis looked on the day a lot of people hadn’t seen him in the ring for a good while and he really did look the part. Travis also won the Veteran Dog class and Best Overall Veteran in English Setters, a great result.


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It was an extra special day too because Travis’s Son Frankie won Best Of Breed was shortlisted in the Gundog Group, his Daughter Pebbles won the Bitch CC (Best bitch),  his Granddaughter won Best Puppy, and it was my Birthday. 

Update March 2020 CRUFTS

Travis was entered again for Crufts Dog Show in March 2020. A few months again of hard work preparing his coat ready for the show. It was all worth it as he won the Veteran Dog class and went on to win Best Veteran in Breed again. Another Son of Travis went on to win the Dog CC and Best of Breed too, another fantastic day out.

Here is what the Judge Mrs C Guy wrote about Travis. 
Veteran – Dog 12 ( 2)
Lovely orange dog with beautiful balance and flow of one part into the next with no ugly joins. 9 years old and is in absolutely superb condition with a beautiful silky coat excellently presented. Lovely head with a kind gentle eye. Well boned with good depth and spring of rib. Shoulders are long and well laid back with elbows close to his body. Excellent quarters with good width and well turned stifle. His movement was a joy to watch going so positively on a good stride with strong rear pasterns and a gently wagging tail. Considered him for the Res CC. Sire of the BOB. A great ambassador for the breed. Best veteran. 
Judge Carol Guy

Setter show dog groomer k9 Rebecca Goutorbe

Getting Travis ready for Crufts

Travis hadn’t been to a dog show since Crufts 2018, so there was quiet a bit of work to be done to get him in some order for the show ring again. At 9 years old he isn’t the kind of dog who goes crazy out in the field and comes back with half the field in his coat. But being older and lot more steady he lies down a lot including in the grass run. Lying down in the grass is fine on a sunny day but when the grass is damp or muddy thats when you start to get matts in the coat if you don’t keep on top of the brushing and combing.

I spent weeks brushing, combing and bathing Travis to keep his coat matt free. If you have a show dog who goes every weekend to shows the dog gets continuous grooming. You probably don’t even realise this is happening because you just go from week to week, show to show and the dog is always trimmed, bathed, ready for a show and looking it’s best. But when I thought about entering Travis for Crufts 2020 there was work to be done to get on top of his coat. At this point to me the perfect cut and style for the ring isn’t important, what is more important is getting the whole coat into condition. De shedding the hairs and keeping the coat matt free. Keeping the coat matt free is so important so you don’t end up with gaps where you have had to cut out matts. Yes, cut out the matts and knots is what I do if the matts are so bad because it can actually hurt the dog to de matt it sometimes. It is far kinder to just clip or cut out bad matts when a dog is older as they tend to tolerate the de matting process a lot less.  

When a dog moults as well as the hair dropping out all over some of the hair also stays in the coat and drops into the feathers, so if you don’t regularly brush the coat when a dog is moulting this is when matts can form quickly. There are lots of other ways which coats can matt up, but as a general rule with Setters and Spaniels moulting is one of the ways which matts form especially in the feathers if not brushed out, the back end tends to be worse than other parts of the dog. The best way I find to get rid of dead hairs when a dog is moulting is to bath the dog and blow out the hairs with the high powered hair dryer, that usually does the trick.
The photos and video below show how much coat can come out of a dog with a good brush when they are moulting. 

de shed dog hairs
groom moulting dog

As the show date starts to approach then it is time to concentrate on the cut and style. Although it is a standard cut and style for English Setters, each show dog has its best attributes and these can be enhanced with good trimming. This is Travis after his groom a week before Crufts.

Show dog trimming

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