Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, one of the highlights of the Royal Cornwall Show is the dog show which brings together the best in two-legged and four-legged fun both

Celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, one of the highlights of the Royal Cornwall Show is the dog show which brings together the best in two-legged and four-legged fun both in the ring and from the sidelines

Dog showing is a very British affair. The first ever recorded dog show was reportedly held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne during 1859. Just pointers and setters took to the judging ring at that first organised event. Six years later the first dog show took place at the Royal Cornwall Show. Move forward to the present day and you’ll find a much wider range of canine breeds competing for top honours at the dog show that forms part of this year’s event.

Apart from the scale, nothing much has changed in the canine showing world during the intervening 150 years. Purebred dogs are still evaluated by an informed judge against how well they conform to the established breed type, as laid out in each breed’s individual standard.

The showing of dogs proved popular in Victorian Britain. The new trend only took six years to find its way to Cornwall’s premier annual event. The first dog show took place at the Royal Cornwall Show in 1865, which that year was held in Falmouth. The Royal Cornwall Gazette on the 2nd June of the same year declared the dog show “the most successful exhibition of the kind which has been held in Cornwall.”

The introduction of dogs to the show had been instigated by Falmouth’s local show organising committee. It was part of a raft of new features added in a bid to match the resounding success of the previous year’s show held at Saltash. They also bravely chose to house the newly formed canine section within the same marquee that contained the show’s poultry section.

A total of 187 dogs entries were received for the first Royal Cornwall Show dog section. 32 pointers, 24 setters and 23 terriers were joined by smaller numbers of spaniels, toy dogs, sheep dogs, harriers, foxhounds, greyhounds and retrievers. The newspaper coverage concluded, “The collections of sporting and sheep dogs were very fine, and the little toy dogs were very attractive.”

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Back to today and the dog show has a new organising committee. They will be expecting to attract more than 700 entries at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show, across a vast array of breeds.

Each year the breeds judged on each day rotates, to ensure show-goers have the opportunity to see different classes. This year the terriers, pastoral and working dog classes will take place on Thursday, 4 June, with the hounds and gundogs taking to the judging rings on Friday, 5 June, with the utility and toy dogs rounding things off on Saturday, 6 June.

Lorna Dunstan, the new chairman of the section, is looking forward to continuing the long history of dog showing at Royal Cornwall.

“We are looking forward to making some changes this year that will benefit the visitors who come to see the dog show.

The Best in Show ring is being upgraded and, at different times during each day, expert commentary will be provided to explain what’s happening during the judging process and describe the characteristics of the participating breeds.’

Despite its long held traditions, the dog show at Royal Cornwall is keeping pace with the times. This year, for the first time, entries will be accepted online.

Man’s best friends are very much part of the Royal Cornwall Show each year. Not only can they be found competing, but also participating in demonstrations of their various working capacities.

The Countryside Area at the show offers a full programme of interesting demonstrations of a vast array of rural crafts, skills and pursuits. The showground’s lake plays host to a display of gundogs who love nothing more than diving into the water to retrieve a decoy for their handler.

The incredible understanding and working relationship between humans and canines will be further showcased in the Dog and Duck Show. It’s One Man and His Dog with a major twist. New Zealander Stuart Barnes and his trusted collie dogs show off their herding instinct with one important difference: the sheep are replaced by an unruly team of ducks.

During his show Stuart explains the dog’s psychology. He also offers an insight into other domesticated animals and their behaviours, and how animals work as a pack and communicate with each other.

Naturally, visitors to the show are very welcome to bring their own dogs along to enjoy the event with them, provided they are kept on a non-retractable lead.

The Royal Cornwall Show takes place at the showground, near Wadebridge on 4, 5 and 6 June this year. Tickets, memberships and grandstand seats are on sale now online at