The Kennel Club has announced that basic final checks will be performed by officials from the show management and vet teams on each Best of Breed, in the collecting ring at Crufts.
To protect the welfare of the dog, a KC statement reads, "all Best of Breeds will be requested to undergo a basic low-key observation to ensure each dog is ready to compete in the group. The observation will focus on obvious visible conditions which could compromise the dog’s performance in the group competition".
Gerald King, Crufts Chairman, said, “For those who are preparing for competition in the collecting ring it is a very exciting and special time, so we want to be sure that both dog and handler are as ready as they can be to compete and that the dog is sound and not in distress in any way.
“The check will be basic and will simply involve the show official and vet team observing the dog move, to ensure that the dog and handler are both ready to enjoy themselves in the ring.”
This change may be a response to last year's criticism when German Shepherd Cruaghaire Catoria won the title of Best of Breed despite having a severely sloped back that many perceived to be detrimental to her welfare. In June last year, the Kennel Club announced a series of measures to keep such thing a from happening again - including revised breed standards for GSD to "include additional wording to emphasise the importance of the dogs being capable of standing comfortably and calmly, freely and unsupported in any way".
Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said of the changes, “The Kennel Club was given no option but to address the issues which the breed itself seemed to be taking far too long to address and which came to a head at Crufts this year.
“The health and welfare of dogs is the primary objective of the Kennel Club and, where a breed experiences any issues in this respect, the Kennel Club has an obligation to take action where it can. The time for that action is now."
Whether said action has given meaningful results will be soon plain for all to see, with Crufts 2017 less than a month away.