Many gun dog breeders have resolved to attend the event together with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) to ensure working dogs are properly represented and to demonstrate to the public and those who set breed standards what working gun dogs should really look like.
The widespread withdrawal of support from Crufts was prompted by a BBC documentary, aired last August, called Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which highlighted how many dogs bred for showing suffer from genetic diseases following decades of inbreeding.
BASC?s James Green told Shooting Times magazine: ?BASC is delighted to be involved in this year?s Crufts. If, by attending, we can change the thoughts of those who dictate breed standards and influence them to get back to working standards it surely makes sense to support, in numbers, the show rings such as the BASC Gamekeepers? ring.?
Frank Geraghty of Macgiriaght Working Spaniels in Suffolk regularly shows his dogs at Crufts and in 2008 he won the Marsh Trophy for any variety working spaniel bitch.
He said: ?I do know of some working dog breeders who will not be showing at Crufts this year. I had a long think about whether or not I was going to attend, given all the recent controversy. In the end, I have decided to go as I think it is important to educate the public about what a proper working gun dog should look like. People at Crufts often come up to my working dogs and enquire as to the breed and then look shocked when I tell them it is a cocker spaniel. Flying the flag for the working standard is essential if we are to encourage other breeders to breed for health. Wouldn?t it be great if the showing and working lines rejoined and some time in the future we ended up with a true dual Crufts champion??