Top dogs lead the way at Crufts

SUFFOLK's top dogs have put the county on the map at the world's most famous dog show.

SUFFOLK's top dogs have put the county on the map at the world's most famous dog show.

Swedish Vallhunds Maud and Phoebe were enjoying life back at home with their owner Pauline Harrild at Reydon, near Southwold, yesterday after winning first and second place rosettes at Crufts.

Meanwhile, Jocelyn Creffield's Portuguese Water Dog Rhea won best bitch at the show - and the proud owner, from Hitcham, near Stowmarket, was quick to pass advice on to President Barack Obama, whose family have recently taken on a dog of the same breed.

Mrs Harrild's four-year-old Phoebe, a challenge certificate winner, came first in the Swedish Vallhund limit class at the show last week and 19-month-old Maud was awarded second place in the post-graduate bitch class.

The owner, of Keens Lane, has been keeping Vallhunds - a Swedish cattle herding dog - since 1980 and has bred champion dogs in the past.

She said: “The dogs are judged on everything - their heads should be triangular when you look from the top and they should have light markings, known as saddle marks, across the tops of their backs. Then the judges look at their shape and length and how they move.”

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She added: “You have to be very dedicated - and probably a little bit mad - to show dogs but it is always great fun. I have kept Vallhunds for years and my mother showed Great Danes for about 50 years as well.”

The breed was first introduced into the UK in the 1970s after being built up from just five Vallhunds which remained in Sweden after the Second World War. This year, 69 Vallhunds competed at Crufts.

Mrs Creffield, who has been breeding Portuguese Water Dogs for 20 years and has 12 of them at home, was delighted to see seven-year-old Rhea win the best bitch class.

“It is such a great occasion and Rhea has been a very successful show dog. She is completely at home in the show ring as she is in the field,” she said.

The breed of dogs has been given a greater profile recently after US President Obama treated his family to a Portuguese Water Dog after he got to the White House.

And Mrs Creffield warned the President he will need every last ounce of his energy to keep up with his new pet.

“They need a lot of exercise and will need a good two mile-plus walk every day,” she said. “They will get you fit very quickly because they go off at some pace.

“They have a lovely temperament and they are happy fun loving dog who are perfect for a young family like the Obamas.

“My advice to him would be to start training them straight away and just to make sure they enjoy their dogs as much as possible.

“Since they have been in the news, we have a lot of inquiries from people wanting to get them.

“But as breeders we have to be careful they go to the right homes and are not just fashion accessories.”