Wednesday 17 January 2018

Crufts Best in Show 2017 branded a 'joke' as fans say American Cocker Spaniel looks nothing like a working dog

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Miami Ink, an American Cocker Spaniel, seen with handler Jason Lynn, is awarded Best In Show at Crufts Dog Show
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Miami Ink, an American Cocker Spaniel, seen with handler Jason Lynn, is awarded Best In Show at Crufts Dog Show

Sopie Jamieson and Tracey Kandohla

Crufts Best in Show has been awarded to an American Cocker Spaniel called "Afterglow Miami Ink".

The dog came away with the show's top prize after winning Best in Gundog Group a day earlier.

"Afterglow Miami Ink" (Miami), the American Cocker Spaniel is posed by handler Jason Lynn after being announced the winner of the Best in Show competition at the Crufts Dog Show

But the champion was a controversial choice for some viewers of the competition, who suggested that the animal did not look like a normal working dog.

One fan said on Twitter: "That spaniel can't be classed as a gun dog never mind best in show!"

Another complained: "Why do hand bag #dogs always seem to win #Crufts . That thing that won isn't a real dog. Gun dog, my foot."

The spaniel, known to his owner simply as "Miami", has a long, groomed coat. So spectacular is his fur that some compared him to the singer Sia.

Do you think 'Afterglow Miami Ink' deserved to win best in show at Crufts 2017?

One person wrote: "I believe there is a dog on #Crufts wearing Sia's wig".

Popstar Sia is known for keeping her face hidden, wearing wigs with heavy fringes that cover her eyes.

And the Spaniel's black-and-white coat bore striking similarities to the singer's hairstyle.

Caroline Kisko, Crufts spokesman, said: “Many of the dogs which belong to the gundog group in the UK may not necessarily work in the field but they retain their working instincts.

"Gundog breeds, such as the Labrador and Cocker Spaniel, are some of the most popular in the country, offering love and companionship to hundreds of thousands of people and those relationships are what are celebrated at Crufts, in the many competitions and activities at the show.”

The Kennel Club describes gundogs as those "originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded".

The organisation says gundogs tend to make "good companions, their temperament making them ideal all-round family dogs".

Judge Jeff Horswell picked the two-year-old dog from Blackpool as the show's overall winner.

Owner Jason Lynn praised Miami's "happy wagging tail" and "charisma" as he received the award.

"He’s pretty special. I’m speechless and absolutely shocked and thrilled," he told presenter Clare Balding.

Crufts has attracted controversy this year for the way handlers are holding leads.

The RSPCA has suggested the practice is causing dogs distress and risks physical harm.

The four-day competition sees 160,000 people flock to the Birmingham NEC arena, with entries from 56 different countries.

Now in its 126th year, the competition has hosted hundreds of cross-breeds that are ranked by their agility, obedience and heelwork to music ability, among other skills.

Reserve Best in Show went to Melanie Harwood from Blackburn, Lancashire, with her Miniature Poodle Frankie Minarets Best Kept Secret.

She echoed the winner’s words “I’m speechless” and added she was “so pleased for Jason” who lives in the same county.

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