On this day in history : 4th April 1873 – The Kennel Club is founded; the World’s first official registry of thoroughbred dogs and regulation of canine activities, such as dog shows and field trials….

The first known dog show was held in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1859 and soon became a very popular hobby among the Victorians…. Loved by both exhibitors and spectators alike it was a pastime accessible to all classes…. This was not quite the case with field trials, as these tended to be more for country gentlemen; the first trial was held in Southill in 1865 – and soon such trials had a huge following….

Sewallis E. Shirley, an exhibitor of fox terriers, became frustrated with the lack of consistent rules amongst the various dog shows. It prompted him and some colleagues to organise the First Grand Exhibition of Sporting and Other Dogs at the Crystal Palace in June 1870….and the seeds of the Kennel Club were sown….

Sewallis E Shirley – Public domain

Along with 12 other gentlemen Shirley produced a set of rules and regulations to make sure shows and trials were managed and run honestly, fairly and with the welfare of the dogs in mind…. In 1874 the first Kennel Club stud book was produced, listing results of all dog shows and field trials since 1859, along with a code of rules. It has been published every year since….

Spaniel field trail

At first the Kennel Club was run from a small three room flat – 2 Albert Mansions in Victoria Street, London – but in May 1877 moved to Pall Mall. The organisation now has its headquarters in Mayfair…. Its first ever patron was HRH The Prince of Wales (to become King Edward VII) who himself was a strong opposer of the practice of cropping dogs ears….

In 1880 the first monthly register of dogs names was printed – a registration to identify dogs individually…. It is this that over the years has provided the source of pedigree for all the breeders on the Kennel Club’s register….

Nowadays the Kennel Club licenses dog shows throughout the United Kingdom – but only runs one show itself…. In 1939, after the death of Charles Cruft it acquired Crufts Dog Show, which had been founded in 1891…. Held every March at the NEC in Birmingham it is the World’s most famous dog show….

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