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Can Breed Entry Size Change A Breed?

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74 – April 2019

By Wayne Cavanaugh
Photos by Lisa Croft-Elliott

In the first three months of every year, we are treated to the world’s two most storied and spectacular all-breed dog shows: Westminster and Crufts. Both events are steeped in century-old tradition and serve to showcase the best purebred dogs in the world. But as anyone who has attended both can attest, they are also as different as night and day.

The tremendous size of Crufts is important to its overall context. However, taking a closer look at the impact of just one part of its size – the relative enormity of breed entries – raises a series of requisite questions. Perhaps the most resonant of those questions is: can larger breed entries actually change the way a breed looks over time? Getting to that answer takes perspective and some peeling back of the proverbial onion.

Westminster is a spectacular, limited-entry, two-day show with 2,800 dogs entered. Crufts is a four-day show with more than seven times as many entries (20,256). The arena floor at Madison Square Garden is 36,000 square feet, the pier adds about another 130,000 square feet. The venue for Crufts, the National Exhibition Center, has nearly 2 million more square feet of floor space than Westminster.

Both shows are international affairs. Westminster with over 100 entries from a dozen foreign countries. Crufts had 3,611 foreign entries from 44 countries this year – nearly a thousand more foreign entries than Westminster’s total entry.

I want to make it clear that arguing that one of these two great shows is better than the other is, well, nonsensical and absurd. Does the enormity of Crufts mean the best dogs there are better than the best dogs at Westminster? Of course not! But it does change things.

With many breed entries at Crufts large enough to require an entire day of judging, benching is placed adjacent to the breed ring. That juxtaposition affords the time and space for breeders and owners to socialize and see each other’s dogs in the flesh. It’s as if Crufts blossoms into a culture of national specialties for every breed, every year, all being judged under one colossal roof.

Most crucial, the large breed entries dictate the overall number and kind of judges required for such entries. The majority of judges on the Crufts panel are assigned one breed. (A few judges are assigned two or three of the smaller breed entries). In the largest breed entries, two judges are required for one breed–one for dogs, one for bitches. Again, quite like an AKC national specialty. So what kind of judges do you hire?

Click here to read the complete article
74 – April 2019

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