Tired of traditional 'breed standards' that prioritise looks over welfare, the National RSPCA is searching for alternatives - such as pooches perfect on the inside but imperfect on the outside or clever canines that have overcome adversity and are now happy hounds.
February 2nd marks the launch of the National RSPCA Ruffs 2015 - the charity's alternative online dog show.
To challenge the traditional beauty pageant style dog shows, which judge dogs primarily on looks, ‘Ruffs’ celebrates them for the right reasons - their welfare and happiness - whether they are pedigrees, crossbreeds, rescues or otherwise.
Now in its second year, Ruffs is extending its categories to include golden oldies for dogs aged eight and over and RSPCA rescue dogs - for dogs who have been rehomed from the charities centres and branches.
“Last year was our first ever Ruffs and it was overwhelming how the public responded to this competition - with hundreds of thousands of people voting throughout the week,” said RSPCA’s Violet Owens.
“Our finalists would never be ‘perfect’ according to breed standards used in shows like Crufts, but they represent the true spirit of the contest which celebrates dogs for health, welfare and happiness - which should always be put before how a dog looks,” she added.
Last year’s ‘Best in Show’ was Tiny the Rottie whose incredible transformation stole people’s hearts. Just two years ago Tiny was at death’s door, suffering from full body Demodicosis and so severely emaciated he looked like a different dog.
Tiny pulled in an incredible 315,000 votes alone in the semi finals for ‘Best Transformation’, and went on to win the overall competition with a further 12,000 votes.
The other finalists included Tango - a dog who has been used in dog fighting and has had his ears cut off; Molly - a staffie who was dumped as a puppy in a recycling bin and Maya - who had previously used as a breeding machine and never seen the outside world or played with a toy.
The other Ruffs 2015 categories are:
Happiest Hound – pictures of dogs at their happiest.
Perfectly Imperfect – ‘wonky’ dogs who will never be perfect according to a set of arbitrary standards, but are perfect anyway.
Best Transformation – ‘before and after’ pictures of rescued dogs.
Best rescued ex-breeder - the many dogs discarded when they’re no longer ‘useful’.
Best in show - the winner of each the above categories will go forward, and following a public vote the overall winner will be crowned!
To enter your dog into Ruffs 2015 , simply email a photo/s of your photos to email@example.com with a short (no more than 500 words) paragraph about your dog and what categories you’re entering him/her/them in (you can enter them in more than one!).
The deadline for entries is 20th February 2015.
The competition this year is open to dogs in the UK only, but there will be a special ‘International Ruffs’ for dogs living in other countries to celebrate World Animal Day later this year.