The “World’s Greatest Dog Show” is back this year with a fresh batch of canine antics to delight dog fans.
Organised by the Kennel Club, each year Crufts brings together some of the most meticulously bred, highly trained dogs on the planet to find out who really, truly is the best girl or boy.
Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s competition.
What is Crufts?
Crufts is the UK’s biggest annual doggo contest, which sees our furry friends compete across a variety of events.
It was founded back in 1886 by a dog biscuit manufacturer named Charles Cruft who, having taken in shows all across the UK, sought to raise the standard of the competition.
One of the main events is the “conformation show”, which pits purebred dogs against one another to see how well they conform to the expected standards of their breed.
Meanwhile other events test the competitors’ agility and obedience.
The highest honour is the Best in Show title which seeks out the single most impressive animal from the thousands that compete.
As well as having the highest profile of any UK dog show, Guinness World Records have confirmed that Crufts is the foremost event of its kind in the entire world.
It attracts a staggering 20,000 contestants each year, with further thousands attending the show as visitors.
Crufts also functions as a massive trade convention featuring 550 stands with the manufactures of all kinds of doggy products demonstrating their wares throughout the competition.
The Discover Dogs area also allows visitors to hang out with more than 200 different breeds – perfect if you’re still trying to decide what type to go for or if you just want to spend some quality time with a large variety of canines.
Crufts has been harshly criticised over the years for the practices it encourages. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Is Crufts controversial?
For many years, Crufts was broadcast in the UK by the BBC, however in 2009, after a wave of outrage concerning the breeding practices the show encouraged, the show was dropped.
Concerns were raised by a BBC programme, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, that the contest promoted breeding practices which compromised the health of the animals. This prompted various sponsors, including the RSPCA, to withdraw their support for the event.
The Kennel Club denied the charges and called the programme “highly biased”, lodging a complaint with Ofcom in which it claimed “unfair treatment”.
However, new health standards which aimed to prevent “anything that could in any way be interpreted as encouraging features that might prevent a dog from breathing, walking and seeing freely" were introduced for the following edition of the contest.
In 2009, the RSPCA also launched an independent scientific investigation which found that "exaggerated physical features and inherited diseases cause serious welfare problems in pedigree dogs", although the Kennel Club also rejected this report.
When is the 2020 show?
The 2020 edition of Crufts will begin on Thursday 5 March 2020 and runs across four days.
This year’s contest is taking place at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre (NEC).
The schedule is as follows:
Day 1 – Toy and Utility
Day 2 – Gundogs
Day 3 – Working and Pastoral
Day 4 – Terrier and Hound
This is Bobby Joe. He has his own Instagram account. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
How do I get tickets?
Tickets can be purchased from the Crufts website or on the doors. Prices vary depending on the day but it is cheaper to buy in advance - £16-19 for adults and £11-14 for children, students, senior citizens and disabled visitors.
It is worth noting that no dogs other than assistance dogs and those who have been invited will be permitted entry into the venue.
Where can I watch Crufts?
For those who can’t make it in person, Channel 4 and More 4 will be broadcasting the show live this year.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The i.