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Every dog has his day at Crufts, even foreign ones

First, history. When Crufts was established, back in 1886, it was an international affair, with early and influential supporters including royal dogs from the Continent and Russia.

The threat of rabies put an end to that: when a six-month quarantine period for all imported dogs was introduced in 1897, Crufts evolved into a British-only institution. It was only in 2001, with the relaxation of the quarantine laws, that things opened up again, and foreign barks began to be heard once more at Crufts.

Second, the range of dog breeds shown at Crufts has always been just about as international as it's possible to be. Basset hounds and poodles are French. Great Danes, boxers, dachshunds, dobermans and, of course, German shepherds are German. St Bernards and Bernese mountain dogs are Swiss. And that's just Europe.

There are Alaskan malamutes, Australian silky terriers, Siberian huskies, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Tibetan spaniels and Japanese shiba inus: their names speak for themselves. Of course, there are also British breeds such as Old English sheepdogs, Welsh corgis, Scottish terriers and many others. But if you do the sums, "True Brits" are a minority, even at a great British institution like Crufts.

The truth is also that - as in so many fields - globalisation has played a part. Many of the visiting dogs have been top winners in their country of origin and it's no wonder that they win prizes here too. British dog owners are being forced to deal with increasing global competitiveness, a thing that UK businesses know all too well.

There are lots of commercial and charity stands at Crufts. Perhaps Ukip should set one up. It could be prime recruiting ground. But they'd have a big job to do. Multiculturalism arrived in the dog world many decades ago: it's far too late to stop that foreign tide.

Pete Wedderburn is a practising vet


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