26% Of Crufts Winners Are Overweight, Says Research In Veterinary Record

According to research published online in Veterinary Record, 26% or just over one in four dogs shown at the world famous Crufts dog show are overweight, adding yet another layer or controversy to The Kennel Club’s judging standards and the Crufts show in general.

Crufts is the largest and most prestigious dog show in the UK, which attracts international competitors and interest from all over the world, with the event being televised in many countries. However, Crufts has come in for a lot of negative publicity in recent years, kicking off with the BBC exposé Pedigree Dogs Exposed, in 2008. The programme highlighted a lot of negative aspects of pedigree breeding and showing at Crufts, including breed standards that were found to be detrimental to the health of the dog, deliberate inbreeding, and dogs being awarded championship status despite poor physical health.

All of these aspects directly go against The Kennel Club’s principles of improving the health and quality of pedigree dog breeds, and promoting responsible breeding and wellness.

Even up until the present day, Crufts has remained controversial; this year alone, the Crufts show was boycotted by the RSPCA, the handling of the Best in Show winner was a source of much negative attention, and in general, the Crufts show today is viewed with a lot of suspicion, despite the fact that it remains as the highest level showcase for pedigree dogs.

Following the recent research posted in the Veterinary Record, this controversy is sure to grow even further! In this article, we will look at the findings revealed about Crufts winners as part of the research, and what these means for the dogs of the UK. Read on to learn more.

The research

Researchers based their findings on the examination of 1120 online images posted of Crufts winners from 28 different breeds, many of which have a genetic predisposition to obesity. The 1120 dogs used as part of the sample included only adult dogs, which had placed between first and fifth place in their respective classes at Crufts shows between 2001-2013.

Each image was anonymised and coded, leaving 960 images suitable for impartial assessment. After this, a second person who had not been involved in the sorting of the images used validated methods to grade the physical build and condition of each dog in the images.

74% (three out of four) of the images scrutinised revealed dogs that were in peak physical condition at a perfect weight for their size and build, representing a good example of their breed at the correct weight.

However, 26% of the dog images analysed revealed dogs that were overweight, averaging out to one in four of all of the dogs examined.

Statistics by breed

Some of the breeds examined as part of the study were breeds of dog that are particularly prone to weight issues and obesity, such as the Labrador retriever, Basset hound and the Pug.

Across the images of Pug dogs that were analysed, 80% of the dogs were found to be overweight, while the Bassett hounds examined returned 68% of the dogs overweight, and 63% for the Labrador retriever.

The Doberman pinscher, Hungarian Vizsla, Border terrier, Standard poodle and Rhodesian ridgeback were the breeds examined that showed the least numbers of overweight dogs.

Even when it comes to the figures for the breeds that were commonly overweight, such as the Pug, Labrador and Bassett hound, the dogs from Crufts were found to be overweight at a lesser rate of regularity than dogs of those breeds kept as pets.

However, as the Crufts show is designed to represent the very best examples of their respective breeds and so, pose an example to the public of the ideal for the breed, overweight dogs of any type should not theoretically be winning prizes.

The Kennel Club has recently introduced further changes to their judging criteria, in order to try to ensure that winning dogs are not only healthy and of an appropriate weight for their own sakes, but so that the public and dog owners in general are able to view Crufts winners as top level examples of their breeds, and something to aspire to. Whether the results of the next Crufts show, in 2016, will reflect this in the judging arena itself remains to be seen!

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight

Learning to identify weight fluctuations in your own dog, and vitally, being able to recognise an appropriate weight when you see it is important.

You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs by running your hand lightly along their flank, without having to dig through layers of fat! However, you should not be able to see your dog’s ribs with the naked eye, as this may mean that your dog is underweight.

Your vet or local veterinary nurse clinics can help you to make an informed assessment of your dog’s condition, and provide advice on keeping them at a healthy weight.


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