Australian shepherd named Viking crowned best in show at Crufts

Australian shepherd named Viking crowned best in show at Crufts
Viking, an Australian shepherd, won best in show (Jacob King/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

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 is an Australian shepherdViking, an Australian shepherd, won best in show (Jacob King/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jacob King

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”.

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

Protesters were removed from the arena during the last day of Crufts.

Animal rights group Peta said a “supporter holding a sign reading Boycott Breeders attempted to storm the arena floor before the winner was announced” and activists also unfurled a banner in the stands among the audience with the same message.

A spokesman 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.

“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.

“We are at the forefront of improving dog health and invest in research, develop health tests and educate breeders, owners and judges about the importance of ensuring health is their top priority.”

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