Crufts begins search for UK's top hero dog

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2023 winners, Stella and Claire. Credit The Kennel Club and BeatMedia
The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2023 winners, Stella and Claire. Credit The Kennel Club and BeatMedia

Organisers of the UK’s biggest dog event open nominations for The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2024

The nationwide search begins today (25 September 2023) for the UK’s top dog to be crowned the 2024 winner of The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award, which celebrates extraordinary unsung canine heroes and is supported by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust.

Nominations for those dogs who deserve to be recognised for the difference they make can be submitted at Crufts website, with categories spanning from rescue and working dogs to simply ‘best friends’. From the nominations, five heroic finalists, each of whom are awarded donations for their canine charity of choice, will head to Crufts next year, with a public vote deciding the winner.

At Crufts 2023, retired Police Dog Stella was announced as the winner of the prestigious award, presented by the competition’s ambassador, broadcaster Kay Burley, and aired live on Channel 4. Stella served for eight and a half years at Gloucestershire Police Force as a drugs, cash and firearms recovery dog, alongside her owner and handler PC Claire Todd, despite her sad start to life as a rescue dog. In her working career, Stella found weapons and thousands of pounds worth of drugs and cash.

“Stella being awarded The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award 2023 is just amazing,” commented Claire. “She is so special because she’s a rescue dog and also the first Staffordshire Bull Terrier in the country to be a police dog.

“Police Dogs don’t realise how important their job is but to us it is invaluable. They do such an incredible job.”

The Kennel Club, organisers of Crufts, is now searching for more inspirational four-legged friends and is calling for the public to nominate those unsung canine heroes who deserve to be recognised for what they do for its Hero Dog Award 2024.

The winner of the award, which is supported by The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, will be revealed at Crufts 2024 on Sunday 10 March, and will be awarded £5,000 for a dog charity of their choice. Runners up will receive £1,000 for their chosen dog charity.

Nominations for four-legged heroes can be made within in the following categories:

  • Extraordinary life of a working dog – For those who have shown extraordinary qualities working in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue etc.
  • Hero support dog – Celebrating all support and assistance dogs, from medical detection dogs or hearing dogs, to therapy dogs or pets who provide emotional support
  • Best friends – Celebrating a canine companion who has seen its owner through the hardest times, as well as the happiest
  • Child’s champion – Recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on a child's life (16 years and under)
  • Rescue dog hero – for a rescue dog who has overcome adversity and gone on to irrevocably improve the life of their owner/s.

Nominations are open until 18 October 2023 and five finalists will be chosen to go forward to the final at Crufts 2024, where the overall winner, selected by public vote, will be announced before the grand finale of the Crufts Best in Show award on 10 March 2024.

Cathy Guiver, Head of Events at The Kennel Club which runs Crufts, commented: “Through thick and thin, dogs provide us with unconditional love, loyalty and companionship. Some give confidence and independence to those with disabilities and others work to keep the nation safe, providing a unique contribution to society.

“The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award, with the prestigious final held at Crufts, celebrates these unsung canine heroes – those who have changed their owner’s life, made a difference for a friend or family, or put their paws on the line to protect or improve our lives. We urge anyone who knows of a four-legged hero to put them forward for the title of The Kennel Club’s Hero Dog 2024 and showcase the difference they have made.

“Our finalists will take centre stage at Crufts, an event which is dedicated to celebrating the diverse role that dogs play in society and all the ways that they transform our lives for the better.”

Nominations can be made by visiting Crufts website. Finalists will be announced next year, ahead of the winner being crowned at Crufts 2024, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from 7 - 10 March 2024.