06/03/2014 12:39 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 13:59 GMT

Dogs And Owners Trot Up To Crufts In 40 Stunning Pictures

Owners and dogs have gathered in Birmingham for the annual pet-fest that is Crufts, the world’s most famous pooch show. This year more than 21,500 highly preened woofs will compete at the NEC, with 2,500 brought from overseas from more than 45 countries, including lands as far afield as Azerbaijan and Taiwan.

The show, which was first staged more than 120 years ago, remains controversial with detractors (and there are many) saying Crufts prizes appearance over health.

The RSPCA has been particularly vocal in accusing the show of promoting the breeding of dogs born into pain and suffering due to a premium on creating dogs with ever-flatter faces - a look that can often lead to respiratory problems. However, the Kennel Club, which organises the show, remains adamant that Crufts is based on the promotion of healthy dogs.

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Photo gallery Dogs And Owners Gather For 2014 Crufts Dog Show See Gallery