Biggest Crufts scandals – from poisoning claims to ‘out of control’ dogs

Crufts 2020 has officially begun which means it's time for the country's most impressive pooches to show off what they can do.

The dog show is hugely popular, and things get extremely competitive when it comes to the event's top prize – Best in Show.

But Crufts has been hit with more than its fair share of drama and scandal over the year, with everything from worrying poisoning allegations to hilarious mishaps reminding us all why it's never safe to work with animals.

We've taken a look back at some of the things that have hit the headlines over the years.

Poisoning scandal

The death of a dog just a few days after the popular event in 2015 lead to allegations of poisoning .

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Jagger the Irish setter passed away after competing in the event, and there were also claims that a shih-tzu, a Western Highland terrier and Afghan hound also suffered serious illnesses.

It was originally believed that Jagger was killed in a 'murder' plot, but it later transpired the pooch digested the poison when he got home from Crufts.

According to the Kennel Club, a post-mortem found two poisons in beef that was eaten by the three-year-old dog in Belgium.

The two poisons are said to be banned in the EU.

At the time, Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club, said: "There has been a lot of concern about whether the poisoning happened at Crufts and we are now able to reassure all dog lovers who came to Crufts that this could not have been possible and it is highly likely that the poisons, thought to be on a piece of beef, were eaten in Belgium, shortly before Jagger's death."

'Cruel' contestant who picked up Scottish terrier by his tail

The poisoning claims weren't the only scandal to hit the show in 2015, and more than 70,000 people signed a petition calling for the winner of the Crufts "Best in Show" award to be stripped of her title – for alleged cruelty.

Rebecca Cross enraged dog lovers by picking her Scottish terrier up by the tail.

The online petition stated: "Strip Rebecca Cross of her Best In Show award at Crufts 2015 for her unduly harsh handling of the Scottish Terrier, Knopa.

"Under KC Rule A42 Ms Cross is guilty of 'behaving discreditably and prejudicially to the interests of the canine world' and should be held accountable," it added.

Mrs Cross apologised and said it was 'just a habit'.

Final disrupted by animal activists

In 2018 two intruders – who were believed to be from the animal rights group Peta – ran into the show arena as the top prize was being handed over.

They were booed by the audience as they tried to disrupt the prize giving, with winner Yvette Short having to quickly pick up her whippet Tease.

Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for Crufts said the intruders "scared the dogs and put the safety of both dogs and people at risk in a hugely irresponsible way".

A statement from Peta described it as a "cruel beauty pageant" and slammed the way dogs are breed "with 'ideal' physical traits with little or no regard for their welfare".


A streaker interrupted judging for the gundog group at the 2010 show, who ran around the presentation area with the 'i' emblazoned on his naked torso.

Owner of 'most obedient' dog ends up in court after he bit someone

An owner whose dog won an award for obedience ended up in court after her dog then bit into another pet owner's knee at Crufts.

Lorain Ronis, 52, had been celebrating after her Akita, Eddie, won an obedience prize at the prestigious dog show in March 2013 when the incident happened.

She was convicted of having a dangerously out-of-control dog, and was given a 12-month community order.

Toilet break

One pooch competing in the agility course back in 2012 course just couldn't hold it in.

Five-year-old cross-breed Libby was racing alongside her owner and the pair looked like they were doing well, before the dog stopped to poop.

Despite making the wrong kind of impression on the judges, a commentator quipped: "A dog's got to do what a dog's got to do. What a shame.

"Oh dear, disqualified. What was the reason for the disqualification?

"Pooing on the course, now that's not very nice is it?"

Health defects of cross breeding

In 2015 the Kennel Club considered breaking with 140 years of tradition and officially recognising cross breeds such as labradoodles.

It follows controversy over the health defects caused by selective breeding over hundreds of years and the trend towards designer cross breeds.

Animal activists PETA slam Crufts and claims the dogs displayed "are bred for exaggerated physical characteristics that can have devastating and fatal health consequences".

PETA Director Mimi Bekhechi said: "Dogs are suffering and dying because breeders have a fetish for ‘pure’ bloodlines and disfigured dogs.

"PETA is reminding would-be viewers of this twisted canine beauty pageant that many of these inbred animals suffer from debilitating hereditary and congenital defects."

Hairball of 1998

In 1998 it was calculated that 340kg of canine fuzz would need to be cleared from the NEC in Birmingham following the show.

Crufts takes place annually in March at Birmingham's NEC.

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