Crufts faces controversy again following the announcement of the winner of the GSD Best of Breed at this years event.
The GSD bitch, Cruaghaire Catoria, who was awarded top honours in her breed group, was seen struggling to walk and sporting a sloping back which looked almost deformed.
People were shocked, saddened and dismayed to see her. Social Media has allowed the public to express their feelings. One post on the KC Facebook page mirrored what many people were feeling.
Laura Robinson: "DISGUSTING that you allowed a crippled GS dog to even be there! The poor animal has been forced into a life of agony just to satisfy your twisted idea of perfection. CRUFTS IS A FREAK SHOW!"
PETA UK, in their article 9 Reasons Crufts Is Messed Up echo the "freak show" feeling. "Crufts is all about celebrating dogs who have been bred by humans to have unnatural, exaggerated features".
Jemima Harrison, writer of the Pedigree Dogs Exposed blog, posted further footage of the winning German Shepherd that was edited out of Channel 4's broadcast. The Kennel Club admitted they had deliberately removed this footage following concerns over "the unsound movement of the dog".
It is distressing that we are still facing these issues. Back in 2008 a BBC documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, was televised. This in-depth investigation into the health of pedigree dogs stated that many pedigree dogs suffered because owners bred them for looks.
That same year and in the wake of the show being aired, the BBC removed Crufts from their schedule. After identifying certain unhealthy dog breeds, they stated that they would only televise the event again if those breeds be excluded from participating. One of the breeds believed to have been cause for concern was in fact the German Shepherd Dog (GSD).
The Kennel Club said they were putting measures in place to improve the health of pedigree dogs but refused to meet the demands of the BBC, claiming it would "compromise both contractual obligations and our general responsibility to dog exhibitors and our audience". What about their obligations towards dogs?
The RSPCA also withdrew from Crufts after the 2008 event and have again this year voiced their disapproval. "The RSPCA shares the concerns of the public and would strongly urge the Kennel Club to take urgent action to better protect the welfare of dogs taking part in these events."
They also point out that the GSD group was not the only problem area, saying that the Pekingese winner of the Toy group was "panting heavily and struggling to breathe".
Beverley Cuddy, editor of Dogs Today magazine, said "The show ring has changed the way many dogs look and you could say that they are now deformed. They are certainly not in the form they started off in."
This Youtube video called 'The German Shepherd Dog Then and Now' sums the point up perfectly.
So what will be done?
The GSD League of Great Britain have issued a statement regarding the GSD Best of Breed at Crufts 2016 saying the breed group winner "is a correct type to the German Shepherd Dog standard, she has a KC/BVA hip score of 13 and elbow score of 0 – these scores are well below the maximum for showing at WUSV shows, the Kennel Club have no minimum standard for showing or breeding purposes. She is a fit, healthy, family dog."
They go on to say that the bitch was overwhelmed in the main arena and "did not show her true beauty or proper movement."
A petition has been started requesting that the Kennel Club bans the breeding and showing of German Shepherd Dogs with excessively sloping backs. Steph Lang started the petition with a single signature and now has 19,697 supporters.
The Kennel Club have suggested that the breed might be removed from further Crufts competitions. The inherent suggestion there is that only the GSD breed has issues, which is not the case. We really do have to ask whether the dog beauty pageant aspect of Crufts still has a place in today's society?