Crufts 2024: Securing Your Spot at the World’s Greatest Dog Show

We sent out a couple of intrepid reviewers to Crufts to see what the fuss (there’s a good boy) is about. Here, we’ll reveal how to get tickets and what to expect when you get there as we review the overall experience – Is it worth it?

What is Crufts?

Crufts is the world’s largest dog show, known for its prestigious competitions and celebration of canines. It is an event where you witness the pinnacle of dog training, obedience, and breeding.

History of Crufts

Crufts began in 1891 when Charles Cruft, a dog biscuit salesman, established the show as a venue to showcase purebred dogs. The Kennel Club, the UK’s leading organisation dedicated to the welfare of dogs, acquired Crufts in the 1940s, which has since upheld the standards and reputation of this historical showcase.

Crufts Today

In modern times, Crufts holds the title of a highly anticipated annual event, drawing competitors from around the globe. Competitions at Crufts vary widely from obedience tests and agility trials to the prestigious Best in Show, where a single dog is crowned as the pinnacle of excellence.

Not only is it a competition, but Crufts also serves as a stage for dog lovers and the Kennel Club to interact, learn, and celebrate the diverse roles that dogs play in society.

Your access to Crufts allows you to witness a spectacular array of breeds, observe top-level obedience and agility contests, and explore extensive trade stands offering everything from pet accessories to artwork.

With the event hosted at the expansive NEC Birmingham, planning your visit to Crufts is made easy by the venue’s excellent facilities and transport links. Tickets for Crufts offer entry to a full day of activities, including the main arena shows which are often the highlight of the event. You have the opportunity to see the best-in-show competition, where dogs from various categories compete for the coveted title.

How cute is this mini-Chewbacca dog?

Securing your tickets in advance is highly recommended, as the popularity of Crufts means that they can sell out quickly. Whether you’re a dog owner, a hopeful competitor, or simply a lover of dogs, your tickets are a passport to a world of canine charm and competition that promises both entertainment and education.

The NEC Birmingham awaits your visit with its vast halls ready to accommodate the thousands of visitors who share your passion for dogs and the community that celebrates them.

How to Purchase Tickets

Purchasing tickets for Crufts is straightforward and can be managed comfortably online, from the comfort of your home. Ensure that you choose the correct ticket type for a seamless entry experience.

General Admission Tickets

General Admission tickets grant you access to the main exhibition area at Crufts. They can be purchased online through the Ticket Factory, the official vendor. Remember to buy these tickets early, as they can sell out quickly.

  • Adult (ages 12+): Typical prices start at £21.00 + fees.
  • Child (under 9): Usually, children gain free entrance when accompanied by a paying adult.
  • Child (9-15): £14.00 + fees
  • Student: £14.00 + fees
  • Senior Citizen: £14.00 + fees

Note: General Admission does not cover entry to the main arena events.

Arena Ticket Only

To view the live action in the main arena, you’ll need an Arena Ticket, which is sold separately from General Admission. You can buy this ticket via the Ticket Factory website.

  • Prices: Arena tickets vary depending on the event and seating choice.

Remember that Arena Tickets alone do not provide entry to the exhibition area.

Concession Tickets

Concession tickets are available for certain groups, including:

  • Seniors (over 60): Available at a reduced price.
  • Students: Must provide a valid student ID for a discount.
  • Disabled: Special accommodations and pricing available. A free carer’s ticket can often be provided alongside a paid concession ticket for the disabled visitor.

When purchasing, have your proof of eligibility ready for verification.

Hospitality Tickets

For those with a bit more to spend, hospitality tickets are also available. We opted to try these out.

The Hospitality Area at NEC (Crufts) lets you relax far from the madding crowd.

For a not-too-unreasonable price tag, the hospitality tickets include all-day access to a room where you get an inclusive breakfast and lunch.

The lunch was actually rather good, with breakfast being just OK. In general, it proved to be a useful place to call by at when needing a place to get some respite. The NEC is really quite a big place and you may find that tired legs come into play.

Another view of the expansive hospitality area at the NEC / Crufts

Planning Your Visit

When planning your visit to Crufts at the NEC Birmingham, it’s essential to sort out your accommodation and travel arrangements well in advance. This ensures you’ll enjoy the event with peace of mind, knowing you have a comfortable place to stay and a reliable way to the venue. In our case, we drove there and back the same day.

One thing about doing that is that there is a massive car park queue upon leaving the venue – so be prepared if you are looking for a quick getaway!


Birmingham offers a range of accommodation options from budget-friendly hotels to luxurious suites, ensuring you find something that suits your needs. It’s advisable to book early, especially since Crufts attracts a large number of visitors.

  • Proximity: Choose a hotel near the NEC Birmingham to minimise travel time.
  • Budget: Consider your budget and look for hotels offering special rates for event attendees.
  • Amenities: Make sure your chosen hotel provides the amenities you need, such as free Wi-Fi or breakfast.

Some nearby hotels are:

  • Hilton Birmingham Metropole
  • Crowne Plaza Birmingham NEC
  • Moxy Birmingham NEC

Travel to the NEC

The NEC Birmingham is well-connected by various modes of transport. Make sure to plan your route in advance for a stress-free journey.

  • Train: Birmingham International Station is within walking distance of the NEC, with direct services from many UK cities.
  • Car: If you’re driving, the NEC is situated close to major motorways and has ample parking facilities. Parking fees apply, and it’s recommended to book in advance.
  • Bus: Local buses also serve the NEC from Birmingham Coach Station and other regional points.

Travel Tips:

  • Check for rail and road updates prior to departure.
  • If driving, set your sat-nav to B40 1NT for the NEC’s main parking areas.
  • For convenience, consider using the shuttle services provided by the NEC from the car parks to the venue.

Once there, you’ll find a range of food options within the NEC complex, from quick snacks to sit-down meals, catering to all tastes and dietary requirements.

Event Schedule

Crufts is a highlight of the canine calendar, where you can witness a diverse range of competitions spread over four days. The event showcases a variety of breeds and competitions, culminating in the selection of the prestigious ‘Top Dog.’

Day-Wise Breakdown

You can witness Terriers and Hounds take the stage on the first day. It’s a spectacle of agility and showmanship as these dog groups compete.

  • Terriers – Agility & Showing
  • Hounds – Flyball & Showing

The second day is dedicated to Working and Pastoral breeds. These dogs are known for their intelligence, training, and strength.

  • Working – Obedience & Good Citizen Dog Scheme
  • Pastoral – Agility & Rescue Dog Agility

On Saturday, the Utility and Toy groups have their moment. These breeds range from the elegant to the cute, each vying for top honours.

  • Utility – Breed Judging & Agility
  • Toy – Breed Judging & Junior Handling Qualifiers

The final day sees the Gundog group and culminates in the much-awaited Best in Show, where the ‘Top Dog’ of Crufts is crowned.

  • Gundog – Breed Judging & Gamekeepers’ Classes
  • Best in Show – Final Judging & Presentation

Show Competitions

Crufts offers a diverse range of show competitions, each showcasing the skills and attributes of various dog breeds. You’ll witness dogs competing for top honours in categories such as Breed Judging, Obedience, Agility, and Flyball, with a particular focus on breed specifics like terriers and gundogs.

Breed Judging

In Breed Judging, individual dogs are evaluated against their breed’s standards. Judges look for characteristics that exemplify the best aspects of the breed across groups like Terrier, Hound, Working and Pastoral, Utility and Toy, and Gundog. The winners of each group then compete for the prestigious Best in Show title.

  • Terrier: Judged on characteristics like tenacity and agility
  • Hound: Evaluated for their hunting and tracking abilities
  • Working and Pastoral: Assessed on strength and intelligence
  • Utility and Toy: Showcases companion and toy breeds with diverse skill sets
  • Gundog: Highlighting retrieving, pointing, and water work


In the Obedience competitions, your focus should be on the dog’s ability to follow commands and exhibit behavioural discipline. The contest includes:

  1. Heelwork: Dogs must demonstrate the ability to walk closely with their handler in various paces.
  2. Recall: The dog is required to return to the handler promptly on command.
  3. Retrieve: The retrieval of an item on command tests the dog’s obedience and soft mouth.
The Main Arena at Crufts


The Agility competition tests a dog’s fitness, speed, and coordination. Dogs race against the clock, navigating obstacles like:

  • Jumps: Clearing hurdles of varied heights
  • Tunnels: Passing through tubes smoothly and quickly
  • Weave poles: Weaving through a line of poles without missing any

This event features a wide range of breeds, with notable performances often seen from the Working and Pastoral and Gundog groups.


Flyball races pit two teams of dogs against each other in a relay-style format. Dogs dash over hurdles to release a tennis ball from a spring-loaded box and then return to their handlers as quickly as possible.

It’s a test of speed, training, and teamwork that is well-suited for high-energy breeds and mixed breed dogs alike. Is it riveting? Not exactly, but it’s fun enough to watch.

Crufts Main Events

At Crufts, you’ll witness some of the most prestigious competitions in the dog world, including the crowning of Best in Show and the celebration of canine heroes through the Kennel Club Hero Dog Award. These events capture the essence of the competition’s spirit and showcase incredible skills and heartwarming stories.

Best in Show

The Best in Show is the pinnacle of Crufts and arguably the most anticipated event of the competition. Judges assess a variety of breeds at group level before deciding which exemplary dogs will compete for this top honour. Past winners have included a range of breeds, each distinguished by superb conformation and character.

  • Qualification: Winners of the seven group categories (Working, Pastoral, Terrier, Toy, Utility, Gundog, and Hound)
  • Judging Criteria: Health, temperament, and breed standards
  • Previous Winners: Include Whippets, Spaniels, and Poodles among others

Kennel Club Hero Dog Award

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award is a heartwarming tribute to dogs who, through outstanding bravery or service, have made a significant impact on human lives. This award offers you a glimpse into the profound bond between dogs and their owners and celebrates canine companions who have truly made a difference.

  • Award Purpose: Recognising extraordinary achievements and services of dogs
  • Stories Celebrated: Including life-saving feats and providing emotional support
  • Voting: Public involvement in choosing the winner

Heelwork to music and Scruffts are other events that add vibrant diversity to Crufts. Although not covered here, these events also highlight the talents and charms of competing dogs, ranging from choreographed performances to the celebration of crossbreed dogs.

Activities & Entertainment

When you visit Crufts, you’re not just observing; you’re immersing yourself in a world of canine extravaganza. Among the plethora of attractions, the Discover Dogs area and the Scruffts Final stand out as must-see experiences for families and dog enthusiasts alike.

Discover Dogs

At the Discover Dogs zone, you encounter an extensive array of breeds, gaining firsthand insight into their distinct characteristics and temperaments. This area is tailored to ensure you can interact directly with the dogs, providing an unparalleled opportunity to learn about each breed from the knowledgeable owners. Whether you’re considering a new family member or simply curious, this section answers your every query about breeds, from the common to the rare.

Scruffts Final

The Scruffts Final is a celebration of the beloved crossbreed dogs. Unlike pedigree competitions, Scruffts highlights the charm and unique qualities of non-pedigree pooches in a family-friendly atmosphere. Qualifiers from across the nation gather to compete in the grand finale at Crufts. It’s not just about looks; judges look for good character, health, and temperament—a heartwarming testament to the love and bond between canines and their owners.

Breeders and Dog Owners

As a breeder or dog owner looking to participate in Crufts, your priorities should centre on breed standards, health protocols for your dogs, and competition categories applicable to breeders.

Health and Ownership Advice

Maintaining Optimal Canine Health: You are responsible for ensuring your dog meets the stringent health and temperament standards expected at Crufts. Key health considerations include:

  • Regular check-ups with a veterinary surgeon
  • Adherence to vaccination schedules
  • Genetic screening for breed-specific conditions

Ownership Best Practices: It’s critical to be well-informed about the specific requirements of your breed. This includes understanding and applying reputable breeding practices, as well as implementing:

  • Adequate socialisation techniques
  • Proper nutrition and exercise regimes
  • Ongoing training to meet behavioural standards

Breeder Competitions

Crufts showcases a variety of competitions specifically tailored for breeders:

  • Breed Classes: These are judged on how closely dogs match the breed standard. Criteria include conformation, movement, and temperament.
  • Breeder’s Competition: Groups of three or four dogs from the same breeder are judged collectively on uniformity, quality, and condition.

Entry Requirements: Before entering, ensure:

  • Your dogs are registered with The Kennel Club.
  • You comply with Crufts’ qualification criteria for each event.

In summary, your focus should be on exemplary canine health and ownership, along with preparing for the relevant breeder competitions. Always stay informed about the latest standards and updates from The Kennel Club.

Health and Welfare

When you attend Crufts, it’s important to understand the measures taken to support canine health and welfare. A prime focus is on rehoming and rescue services, as well as support for guide dogs, highlighting their incredible abilities and the care they receive.

Kennel Club Breed Rescue

Your visit to Crufts offers an insightful perspective on the Kennel Club Breed Rescue, an organisation dedicated to the welfare of purebred dogs. This rescue network aids in providing new homes to dogs that need rehoming.

  • Key Services:
    • Rehoming and welfare support for purebred dogs
    • Education and advice on dog health

Guide Dogs

The Guide Dogs stand demonstrates the empowering role these dogs play in enhancing the lives of visually impaired people. Your understanding of their meticulous training and care will grow, recognising their special abilities.

  • Training Programmes:
    • Advanced training for dogs to aid those with sight loss
    • Focus on health and wellbeing

By engaging with these stands, you gain awareness of the support given to ensure these special dogs lead fulfilling lives.

Need to Know

Before attending Crufts at the NEC, familiarise yourself with the essential facilities and services available. This will enhance your experience and ensure convenience throughout the event.

Facilities at the NEC

Cloakroom Services: The NEC provides cloakroom facilities where you can securely store coats and small bags. It’s a convenient option if you’re carrying items that you won’t need during the event.

  • Bags and Rucksacks: Attendees are permitted to bring bags and rucksacks. However, for security reasons, only bags that fit within a certain size—typically up to cabin-sized luggage—are allowed inside the venue.
  • Storage Compartments: Should you have larger items or need more space, there are storage compartments available for hire. These can be particularly useful for exhibitors or visitors with additional equipment.
  • Accessibility: The cloakroom is easily accessible. Staff at the NEC are on hand to assist you with your belongings to ensure seamless service. Remember, there is a small fee for cloakroom services, so have some change available.

Watch Crufts

If you can’t make it to the event in person, you have options to watch Crufts from the comfort of your own home. The coverage is comprehensive and accessible via multiple platforms.

Crufts Online

You can stream Crufts live through the Crufts YouTube channel, which offers comprehensive coverage of the event. This includes not only the main competitions and presentations but also behind-the-scenes content and special features. It gives you the flexibility to watch from anywhere at any time.

For traditional viewing, Channel 4 and More4 broadcast Crufts, showcasing various highlights and live coverage during the event. The schedule typically includes the main competition events, with Channel 4 providing prime-time coverage.

To watch, simply check the TV listings for Channel 4 and More4 for the specific times Crufts will be aired. The schedule is usually released closer to the event and may vary each day, so ensure you’re up-to-date to catch all the action.

Should you prefer to record the broadcasts, your TV’s built-in recording feature or an external DVR can be used to watch the dog show at a later time that suits your convenience. Ensure your device is set up correctly with Channel 4 and More4 ahead of time to avoid any last-minute technical issues.

Lastly, remember to check the official Crufts website for any updates on the broadcasting schedule and any possible changes to the online streaming services. Staying informed will guarantee you won’t miss out on this beloved canine event.

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