While the BBC, the RSPCA, the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, the Dog’s Trust, The National Dog Warden Association and Pedigree dog foods have all pulled out of the Kennel Club’s annual dog show, Crufts, gundog breeders will be supporting this year’s event due to be held from 5 to 8 March in order to promote the strength of working breeds.

Many gundog breeders have resolved to attend the event together with BASC to ensure working dogs are properly represented and to demonstrate to the public and those who set breed standards what working gundogs 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 ST: “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 told ST: “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 gundog 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?”

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