Crufts 2023 Best in Show winner: Orca the Lagotto Romagnolo from Croatia

After four momentous days, a new Crufts Best in Show winner has been crowned as Orca (Am GCh Kan Trace Very Cheeky Chic), a Lagotto Romagnolo, who took home the coveted title tonight (Sunday 12 March). 

In a packed Resorts World Arena at the Birmingham NEC, Orca, who is four years old, owned by Sabina Zdunić Šinković and Ante Lucin, and handled by Javier Gonzalez Mendikote, was cheered on as they were chosen by top judge, Stuart Mallard. The famous Best in Show trophy was presented by Crufts Show Manager, Vanessa McAlpine, who has been part of the Crufts and Kennel Club team for over 40 years, and will be retiring this year.

Orca’s win was captured live on Channel 4 in a programme hosted by Clare Balding, and watched online by millions of dog lovers. This is the first time the Lagotto Romagnolo has won Crufts. It is a lively and affectionate Italian breed, which is relatively new to the UK. They have a unique talent for truffle hunting, thanks to their acute sense of smell.

Over 19,000 dogs from around the world competed at the Birmingham NEC over the last four days for just seven places in the Crufts 2023 Best in Show final. The other six finalists were: Archie, a Dobermann; Blondie, an Old English Sheepdog; Blanca, a Wire Fox Terrier; Paris, an Irish Wolfhound; Jake, a Standard Poodle and Dublin, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Orca's delighted owner Ante, said of the win: “This is the first Lagotto Romagnolo to win at Crufts, so this is so great for the breed - we never expected anything like this!

"We know she is a little superstar but this is beyond all expectations. I was crying too much watching from the seats, it was very emotional!

"Orca is everything you could ever want in a dog, she is happy and healthy - and as everybody saw, her tail never stops wagging!"

The Reserve Best in Show was won by the Old English Sheepdog, Blondie, who was handled, bred and co-owned by Matteo Autolitano, from Italy.  

Vanessa McAlpine, Crufts Show Manager, said: “Tonight’s final has been a fantastic way to end another triumphant year for Crufts.

“Congratulations to Orca who helped end this year’s competition on a real high, taking the coveted Best in Show award alongside her handler, Javier. The pair are very deserving winners and it was clear to see their strong relationship together in the ring. 

“Well done to all of our other wonderful finalists too. The dogs, their owners and handlers should be incredibly proud to get through to such a prestigious final – it really is a special achievement. 

“Crufts is adored by dog lovers from all over the world, and we have been delighted to welcome so many competitors this year, and celebrate the unique bond between these much-loved dogs and their owners, across a range of competitions and activities. Thank you to everyone involved for making the event what it is today.”  

Crufts took place from 9 - 12 March 2023 at the NEC, Birmingham. For more information and results from the show, visit the Crufts website.