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Ruth Shepherdson, from Skipton, in North Yorkshire, won the prize for best working gundog with her English springer spaniel Micklethorn Jay.

However, the dog?s two-year-old offspring had been docked and therefore cannot appear at Crufts following the 2006 Animal Welfare Act, which banned the showing of dogs with legally docked tails at shows in England and Wales where members of the public pay an admission charge.

She said: ?I can see why the general public don?t like us chopping tails off dogs, but we do it for a reason. We don?t do it just because we feel like maiming something. A springer with a full-tail will cause itself no end of pain.?

?The BASC classes are brilliant, and it?s really wonderful that they give the gamekeepers, the beaters and the pickers-up the chance to compete at the biggest dog show in the world, but the docking ban has made a complete mockery of the whole thing.?

Ms Shepherdson also criticised an exemption to the Act, which allows docked dogs to be shown ?only for the purpose of demonstrating their working ability?.

She said: ?I don?t think it?s fair that you can take dogs to flyball and agility that have been docked at any time, no matter how old they are, but you can?t take dogs into the show ring that have been docked since the ban.?

BASC?s director of conservation, Tim Russell, said: ?BASC and the Kennel Club are working to incorporate legally docked working gundogs into the BASC classes. This will involve developing tests of working ability.?

?BASC believes Crufts, as the world?s largest dog show, is an important international showcase for working gundogs and a good window on the gundog world.?