21,000 dogs compete for Crufts crown in Birmingham
Around 21,000 dogs converged Thursday in the British city of Birmingham to take part in Crufts, the world's biggest dog show.
Four days of competitions, watched by around 165,000 people at the NEC complex, will lead to one dog winning the coveted Best of Show on Sunday.
Organizers said the show is set to be better than ever, with over 200 pedigree dog breeds in contention for the top trophy.
The number of breeds competing at Crufts continues to grow, with the inclusion of three new breeds, the Russian Toy (34 dogs entered), White Swiss Shepherd Dog (18) and Black and Tan Coonhound (12), all of which will compete in the Imported Breed Register classes at Crufts for the first time.
Recognized most recently by the Kennel Club, the Black and Tan Coonhound became the 221st pedigree breed in Britain and the eleventh new breed to be recognized in Britain since 2008.
The process of being recognized as a pedigree breed by the Kennel Club takes several generations of dogs.
The highest number of dogs in a single breed set to compete in each group will see 537 Golden Retrievers taking part in the gundog section, followed by 350 Staffordshire Bull Terriers and 330 Border Collies, known to many as sheepdogs.
This year's event has seen an increase of 50 percent or more in the entries for the Australian Shepherd, Lowchen, Japanese Spitz and Pharaoh Hound compared with 2018.
As well as the breed class judging which leads to Best in Show, visitors will be able to watch some of the world's finest dogs and handlers in action across a range of disciplines including agility, obedience, heelwork to music and flyball.
Crufts Chairman Tom Mather said: "Crufts is a fantastic opportunity to have the entire dog world in one place celebrating the most successful and famous dog show in the world. This will throw the spotlight on the magnificence of pedigree dogs."
(Head Image: A Chihuahua Ebony, arrives at Crufts along the green carpet during a photocall to launch Crufts on March 4, 2015, in Birmingham, England. /VCG Photo)