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Crufts 2024: Australian shepherd named Viking crowned Best in Show

An Australian shepherd named Viking has been crowned best in show at the 2024 Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham.

Three-year-old Viking, from Solihull, Birmingham, beat 24,000 dogs from around the world over the last four days to claim the show’s top honour on Sunday.

Viking, co-owned by Melanie Raymond, John Shaw and Kerry Kirtley, was the winner of the pastoral group earlier in the show.

Ms Raymond, a third generation dog breeder who lives just three miles from the showground, said: “We all dream of winning best in show at Crufts.”

Viking beat more than 20,000 other dogs (Jacob King/PA Wire)
Viking beat more than 20,000 other dogs (Jacob King/PA Wire)

Asked if he lived up to expectation, she said: “He did actually, I should never doubt him because he always gives me everything and you come in and he’s like ‘yep, come on let’s do this’. So he loves every minute of it.”

According to dog welfare and training body The Kennel Club, the breed was developed in America as a sheepdog to work on the ranches and is “very successful in the show ring” because of their “attractive colours and athletic movements”.

Handler Melanie Raymond and Australian Shepherd named Viking celebrate after winning the best in show (REUTERS)
Handler Melanie Raymond and Australian Shepherd named Viking celebrate after winning the best in show (REUTERS)

A nine-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Zen, from Japan, who earlier won the terrier group, was named reserve dog.

Protesters were also removed from the arena during the last day of Crufts. A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) activist held up a sign reading “Boycott Breeders” and was taken away by security after trying to enter the floor.

Zen, a Jack Russell Terrier from Japan, wins the second place on the final day of the Crufts Dog Show (REUTERS)
Zen, a Jack Russell Terrier from Japan, wins the second place on the final day of the Crufts Dog Show (REUTERS)

A spokesperson for The Kennel Club said: “There was a protest incident involving Peta at Crufts and they were swiftly removed to ensure the safety and welfare of the dogs and owners, who are our main priority.

“Far from perpetuating the homeless dog crisis as Peta claims, Crufts is a unique platform which educates millions of visitors, and viewers on Channel 4, about how to get the right dog for your lifestyle, so that all dogs – whether rescue dogs or puppies – have a home for life.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“We celebrated hundreds of rescue dogs at Crufts this year, and have a dedicated rescue dog area, as well our Discover Dogs zone, which help would-be owners to find the right dog or puppy for them and make responsible choices about this life-long decision.”

Running from 7 March, the annual competition has seen thousands of dogs take part in a wide variety of challenges and presentations.

A selection of agility and jumping tasks were on the agenda during the three-day event, as well as a heelwork to music competition, obedience challenges and a West Midlands police dog display, among other events.