More than 20,000 dogs are due to descend on the NEC Birmingham as Crufts returns next month, from Thursday March 7, through the weekend, to Sunday March 10.

The four-day event, run by The Kennel Club, is spread over 25 acres, and packs in plenty of action, exciting competitions and over 500 shopping and charity stands in a celebration of all things dog!

Various canine activities like fast-paced agility, heelwork to music, flyball, obedience and gamekeepers competitions will be held across all four days. For younger visitors, the Young Kennel Club, for 6–24-year-olds, will have a dedicated ring to show you can get started on your Crufts journey at any age.

For the 30th year, the popular Discover Dogs area will be welcoming over 200 different breeds, of all shapes, sizes and personalities, enabling visitors to learn more about the variety of our four-legged friends from breed experts and see which canine might be the right companion for them.

Each breed ‘booth’ can help prospective puppy owners on every step of their journey – from responsible puppy buying tips to day-to-day training and caring requirements.

On Sunday evening, one of five very special finalists will be crowned as the winner of the prestigious Kennel Club Hero Dog Award, which celebrates extraordinary unsung canine heroes and is supported by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

Great British Life: Javier Gonzalez Menicote from Croatia with Orca, a Lagotto Romagnolo, who won the coveted title of Best in Show at Crufts 2023 Javier Gonzalez Menicote from Croatia with Orca, a Lagotto Romagnolo, who won the coveted title of Best in Show at Crufts 2023 (Image: BeatMedia - The Kennel Club)

Each day of Crufts 2024 will conclude with one dog earning their place in the Best in Show final on Sunday evening, beginning with the Utility and Toy groups on March 7, Gundog group on March 8, Working and Pastoral groups on March 9 and concluding with the Terrier and Hound groups on March 10.

Following four days of competition, one canine Crufts competitor will put their paws on the coveted Best in Show trophy, which in 2023 was taken home by Orca, the Lagotto Romagnolo, whose ‘tail never stops wagging’.

For further information on Crufts and to purchase tickets (under 8s going free) visit the Crufts website at:

Great British Life: Eliza's achievements are celebrated at her local kennel club Eliza's achievements are celebrated at her local kennel club (Image: Photo: Eliza Darwesh)

Meet Derbyshire competitor Eliza and Merlin

Eliza Darwesh, aged ten, from Chesterfield, won the Junior Handling competition at her very first Crufts in 2023 with her two-year-old Labrador, Merlin.

Following further wins throughout the year, Eliza and Merlin qualified and are returning to the green carpet once again this March.

Derbyshire Life spoke with Eliza and her mum Joanne about her journey so far and dreams for the future.

How did Eliza discover dog showing?

‘Eliza’s first dog was a Miniature Dachshund,’ reveals Joanne. ‘She then went to a local ringcraft class and really enjoyed it but sadly the Dachshund was not as keen! Then we got Merlin, a black Labrador Retriever, with no intention to show him, but the trainer suggested letting Eliza have a go with Merlin instead - and that is where it all began, when Merlin was around 12 weeks old.

‘Eliza loves working with Merlin, practicing ringcraft and seeing herself get better- and winning! The very early starts, however, are not such a hit!’

How did Eliza find her first Crufts and what did it feel like winning?

‘Winning felt unreal – as if I was in a dream; I wanted to pinch myself,’ says Eliza. ‘I was surprised because being my first ever Crufts I was happy to just have qualified, so winning was amazing.

‘I celebrated with a family meal at our favourite Turkish restaurant and there were cake and drinks at my ringcraft club, Sheffield City Dog Club, with all the club’s winners from Crufts. I was their youngest winner.’

What is Eliza’s favourite thing to do with Merlin outside the show ring?

‘Cuddles!’, laughs Eliza. ‘This big lovable boy gives the best cuddles!’

Has Eliza ever tried any other canine activities with Merlin?

‘Eliza has been to a few Young Kennel Club training days and her and Merlin have done the Bronze and Silver awards of The Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog scheme,’ says Joanne. ‘Eliza is now keen to develop her handling skills by handling different breeds, small and large.’

Has Eliza made any friends through dog showing/the Young Kennel Club?

‘Yes,’ says Joanne. ‘It’s a great way to make friends with those who have the same interest and they will be together as they move into the older age groups.’


Could you compete one day?

If you’ve ever sat on the sofa watching Crufts on Channel 4 and wondered whether you and your canine companion could make it onto the famous green carpet, The Kennel Club have shared some first steps for beginners.

Great British Life: Members of the public interaction with a Welsh Springer Spaniel at their breed stand in the Discover Dogs section of Crufts Members of the public interaction with a Welsh Springer Spaniel at their breed stand in the Discover Dogs section of Crufts (Image: Ellie Smeaton- The Kennel Club)

Dog Showing

Dog showing involves you (as the handler) taking your dog into a show ring where a judge will watch your dog both running and standing. Judges are looking for healthy, happy dogs that meet The Kennel Club’s description of the breed. To find out more about showing your dog, find and attend a local ringcraft class, or visit a licensed dog show and speak to fellow breed enthusiasts. The Kennel Club has produced a video to help interested owners get started at

Great British Life: Agility competition at CruftsAgility competition at Crufts (Image: Yulia Titovets - The Kennel Club)


Agility is open to dogs of all shapes, sizes, pedigree and crossbreeds. It involves running a course of various obstacles with your dog against the clock with the least amount of faults possible. There are a number of different agility competitions at Crufts aimed at different levels of ability.

The Kennel Club has produced a video to help interested owners to get started at

Great British Life: Heelwork to Music Heelwork to Music (Image: Yulia Titovets - The Kennel Club)

Heelwork to music

Similar to agility, heelwork to music is open to dogs of all pedigree and crossbreeds. Heelwork to music is a fun and musical twist on obedience training where owners choreograph routines to showcase a dog’s obedience skills while telling a story. Performances are judged on criteria including: a routine’s content and flow, accuracy and team performance, and musical interpretation.

The Kennel Club’s video to help owners interested in getting started in heelwork to music can be found at

Young Kennel Club competitions

Even if you have never tried any dog activities before, anyone aged six-to-24 can join the Young Kennel Club and learn more through training days.

Members can compete in special competitions, including Crufts, across a range of activities, like agility for your age group. Find out about becoming a Young Kennel Club member at


Scruffts is the family favourite crossbreed competition open to anyone with a crossbreed through entering one of the Scruffts heats held throughout the year across the country (available at Your dog will be judged on good health, character, personality and temperament with people and dogs. The finals are held on Saturday at Crufts.