The first dog show was held in the United Kingdom in 1859 and they became increasingly popular as the Nineteenth Century progressed. Participants could find the competitions frustrating, however, as there was little consistency from show to show: no governing body, no breed standards, no consistent show rules. Dog breeder and enthusiast Seawallis Shirley assembled a group of fellow exhibitors and—on this day in 1873—founded The Kennel Club, the world’s oldest purebred dog show organization.
The Kennel Club established the rules by which dog shows were to be held, including judging standards and individual breed specifications. Additionally, they published a Stud Book in which the pedigrees and lineage of each dog shown would be recorded.
Today, The Kennel Club continues to hold dog competitions, including a popular show for “Crossbreeds.” At the Crossbreeds Show, started in 1996, non-purebreds compete for prizes including “Prettiest Bitch,” “Handsomest Dog,” “Golden Oldie,” or “Child’s Best Friend.” Spectators also can meet various purebred dogs and talk to their breeders about that variety’s suitability as a pet.
Today, The Kennel Club maintains standards for 211 breeds in seven different groups (Terriers, Hounds, Gundogs and Toys, plus Working-, Pastoral- and Utility Dogs). They also maintain the records of pedigree dogs in the U.K. Furthermore, The Kennel Club inspects the premises of registered breeders and campaigns for animal welfare legislation. They work with Service Dog programs and have assembled a remarkable collection of “dog art” which can be viewed at their gallery in London.
The Terrier Pup sculpture, pictured above, was sculpted by artist Knud Kyhn. Please click on the photo to learn more about him.
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