Obesity at Crufts

Research finds that one in four dogs at the prestigious show are overweight.
By JoAnna Lou, July 2015, Updated July 2016
Obesity is a growing epidemic in pets, a condition that can lead to a myriad of health problems. Often when I talk to people about their dogs, they simply don't know how to gauge ideal weight.

Many people assume that show dogs are the healthiest and best representation of their breeds, but recent research found that one in four dogs competing in the prestigious Crufts is overweight. As the U.K.'s national canine show and the world's largest, these pups get a lot of visibility.

The study looked at over 1,000 images of dogs from a span of twelve years at Crufts. The canines were drawn from a pool of pups that placed between first and fifth in their class. After coding and anonymizing the images, a researcher graded the body condition of each dog.

Some breeds were far more likely than others to be assessed as overweight--80 percent of the Pug images, 68 percent of Basset Hounds, and 63 percent of Labradors. Standard Poodles, Border Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Hungarian Vizlas, and Dobermanns were the least likely breeds to be assessed as overweight.

Researchers acknowledged that the rate of obesity in the show dogs was still less than the general pet population, but the fact that a quarter were above the ideal weight is still a concern.

They hope that their work will draw attention to the obesity issue and encourage education of owners, breeders, and show judges on how to recognize ideal weight in dogs.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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