A King Charles spaniel dog sits on a dog crate while a woman admires them while petting them.
Photos: Chris Bethell

When a Cat Person Goes to a Dog Show

Could Crufts, the world’s largest dog convention, change my mind about canines?

If you love cats, like them enough that you’d consider getting one, or insist it’s impossible to choose a favourite between them and dogs, then congrats - you’re a cat person


If you’re a dog person, you already know this about yourself and likely so does the rest of the world. You probably regard it as your most important self-identifier. Dog people are fierce crusaders for their chosen four-legged species, evident by their commitment to non-negotiable daily walks and chewed up trainers. They will (extremely obnoxiously) struggle to understand cat people’s ambivalence towards dogs: “What do you meannn you don’t like dogs they’re so much FUN and so CUTE look at my little doggo what about labradors you HAVE to like labradors and…”

Cat people, conversely, don’t think about dog people at all. Like felines, they’re generally calm (storing up all hyperactivity for the occasional 1AM outburst), introverted, and a little snobby. The only thrill they need from owning a pet are occasional cuddles and quick “oh, hello there!” catch-ups in the kitchen as both parties go about their day, like the ultimate boundary-respecting housemate.

The left image shows an English sheepdog licking a man's face. He's wearing a suit with a bunch of award pins. The right image is a tight close-up of a brown Pomeranian with a tear in its eye.

Photo: Chris Bethell

I’m a cat person because I enjoy peace - sure, I like dogs but I don’t have enough rain-or-shine energy to desire owning one full-time. The slobbering, toilet-training and unprompted barking is way too much expenditure to be worth the short-lived high of playing fetch.

If any dog in the world was going to change my mind, it had to be at Crufts, the world’s largest kennel club convention. I dressed in my most dog-adjacent attire, (brown trousers and a faux-fur coat) in the hopes of mitigating any suspicion of my infiltration amongst thousands of dog-allies.


Important observations

Before the dog-rating commenced, I observed human behaviour around me to fully immerse myself in the headspace of the canine enthusiast. Every interaction with owners around their dogs quickly became a hard-sell: The most casual of conversation-starters would generate a PR speech for the entire breed. No-one ever just says, “I dunno, he’s nice to hang out with and it’s cute when he rolls over”. Therein lies the key difference between dog and cat people – dog people have got too much time to kill.

A man sits in a convention booth filled with dog statuettes on plinths.

Essential supplies. Photo: Chris Bethell

Some other important Crufts observations that I will not be discussing further:

  • Dog people are actually way less annoying when they’re in utopia.
  • Hearing people casually using the word bitch is odd.
  • Legally, dog owners have to look like their dogs.
  • It’s a rare gift to see labs being treated as the basic bitches they are.

Very scientific ranking system

Outfit (?/5)

Ginger, fluffy or hairless, a cat is always just a cat – even to cat people. Dogs, on the other hand, have the waviest range of aesthetics to choose from. Pretty privilege is how the canine species has garnered much of its positive PR, so being interesting to look at is a must.

Cuddliness (?/5) 

Size, fur and temperament variations mean that cuddling satisfaction fluctuates massively from dog to dog. If you can’t get the ultimate endorphin-inducing cuddle from a pet whose excrement you have to pick up twice a day, then literally what’s the point of getting a dog?


Manners (?/5)

The biggest sell of dogs is that you can tell them what to do – so discipline and predictability are necessary prerequisites for the makings of a good dog. (Actually, anyone who regularly jumps/howls/humps without warning shouldn’t be freely engaging with the public.)

Reading the room and conforming to basic social norms – or as dog people call it, “obedience” – should be industry standard. If they can’t do this, then they’ve failed at being a dog IMO.

Vibes (?/5)

Cat people just want to vibe – that’s why they got a cat. Cats respect chill weekday atmospheres, whereas dogs seem to live like everyday is a Saturday. If you’re gonna be living here and expecting me to pick up your shit, then a reliably chilled shared living dynamic is key. The best animal sidekicks will enhance, not dictate, the house mood.

On with the rating

English sheepdog (AKA the Dulux Dog)

With an endless supply of breeds and a finite amount of time, I had to prioritise the celeb-breeds of the canine kingdom - your corgis, Dalmatians, any fuck-off massive ones. So when I laid eyes on pink-ribbon adorned English sheepdog Georgie – the actual Dulux advert dog my fellow Brits – my sights were set.

I knew I was throwing myself into the deep end by starting with a dog so big, but once I bent down to introduce myself, all tension was quickly dissolved by her reassuringly calm gaze. Georgie was gorgeously groomed and totally unfazed by the crowds of people engulfing her stall. Actually, she was so professional I was almost ready to write her off as boring, but given the chaotic VIP meet-and-greet atmosphere, I could only respect her humility. 

Jordan, the author of the article, crouches down and looks into the eyes of an English sheepdog.

Jordan and the English sheepdog Georgie – the actual Dulux advert dog. Photo: Chris Bethell

This was a dog that knew how to handle people better than most people, and I rewarded her patience with three minutes of fussing. All in all, though, I couldn’t help but feel my enthusiasm was mainly driven by being starstruck over the “dog off the telly”.

Outfit: 5/5
Cuddliness: 4/5 
Manners: 5/5
Vibes: 3/5


Big dog lovers, you’re up, because this dog is unnecessarily massive – like a bear. It’s legit terrifying. Luckily, my brain contains a dusty storage unit filled with useless information about dog breeds (thank you, Top Trump cards of my childhood), so I knew these dogs are traditionally sweet-natured, and that I probably had nothing to worry about vis-à-vis getting swallowed whole.

Jordan is crouched and looks surprised at a Newfoundland dog that is getting up on her.

Jordan and the Newfoundland. Photo: Chris Bethell

Nonetheless, as my hands were lost in the fur of this allegedly gentle giant, he suddenly took a strong liking to my dog-inspired fit, and started relentlessly gnawing on my coat. His owners paused their verbal biography of Newfoundlands to ask him to “stop that, please”, but after 60 seconds of trying and failing to stop his chewing, I made the executive decision to move on. He probably wouldn’t have eaten me, but I respected having full use of my limbs too much to fuck around and find out.

Outfit: 3/5
Cuddliness: 4/5 
Manners: 1/5
Vibes: 2/5

Miniature pinscher

Mini-pins are a nostalgic favourite of mine, thanks to the better years of my life spent training puppies on Nintendogs, and this one had more excitable energy than most other dogs in the room. So cute! So tiny! So fragile! What do you even do with a dog so small??? No, seriously. If you own this dog, what do you actually do with it? 


His guardian was impressively stocked up on everything one could know about the breed, and told me that they’re “so dainty they’re partial to dislocating or breaking their own legs”. My bias toward small dogs wasn’t quite enough to omit this from my rating – there’s being adorably tiny, and there’s being adorably tiny enough to create a whole load of inconvenience. The idea of being sat in the vet’s waiting room next to a ripped Rottweiler with a rat-sized dog who broke his own leg jumping off of the sofa instantly gave me the ick.

Can’t stress this enough, though - they are realllllly cute.

Outfit: 5/5
Cuddliness: 1/5
Manners: 4/5
Vibes: 3.5/5

Jordan crouches down to pet a miniature pinscher being held by a woman in a red blazer.

Jordan and the miniature pinscher. Photo: Chris Bethell


Let’s call it what it is: This dog is a bad bitch. She had the most gorgeously sleek blonde blow-out I’ve ever seen, topped with expensive-looking satin ribbons. She looks like she would’ve bullied me in school. She was polite enough, allowing me to stroke her, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that as soon as I walked away she’d be rolling her eyes and writing a status update calling me a loser.

Outfit: 5/5
Cuddliness: 1/5 
Manners: 4/5
Vibes: 1/5

Bichon frisé

Also had a gorgeous runway-ready hairdo, but she seemed more self-aware about it. Cartoon-ishly fluffy and objectively adorable, I complimented her on her icy-white ‘fro, feeling much more at ease around this category of high glamour. 


You could barely make out her facial features, the stark contrast of her dark eyes deep within snowy fur giving her a permanent resting bitch face. This only added to her charm as she greeted me like I was the first person she’d met all day – excited to play and very happy to let me pick her up.

The left image shows Jordan's hand lightly petting a Maltese dog with the back of her hand. The right image shows Jordan holding a Bichon Frisé while making a kissy face.

Left: The Maltese. Right: Jordan and the bichon frisé. Photo: Chris Bethell

The juxtaposition of such a friendly, happy dog walking around like a furry “>:(” emoticon brought me an endless amount of joy, and this was the first dog to make me add a whole new breed to my favourites list – affectionately nicknamed Bitchin’ Free, by me, just now. 

Outfit: 5/5
Cuddliness: 4/5 
Manners: 5/5
Vibes: 4.5/5

King Charles spaniel

People fucking love these dogs - I can only assume it’s because spaniels have perfected the “puppy-dog-eyes” aesthetic like no other. Still don’t really get it. They’re alright. 

Outfit: 2/5
Cuddliness: 2/5 
Manners: 1/5
Vibes: 3/5

Australian shepherd

Yoshi. Oh, Yoshi. I will think of you forever: This is THE DOG. Clever, loyal and runway-model beautiful, Australian shepherds are a top-tier breed for their Tumblr dashboard-worthy pupils and earthy-neutral splotched fur alone. Yoshi could not have represented his kin any better. 

His owner gleefully demonstrated his obedience, commanding him to “[walk] close”, “stay” and “sit” using a small square of astro-turf as the carrot-on-a-stick. (Yoshi loves astroturf, for some reason – extra point for not being obsessed with messy human-food.) She then taught me the commands so I could have a go myself. He remained extremely calm as this total stranger, probably radiating cat person energy in dog-detectable frequencies, led him around the room. He nailed it, I squealed, we cuddled.

The left image shows an Australian shepherd dog sitting on a dog pillow with Jordan, behind them is a banner with Yoshi's face on it. The right image shows Jordan crouching down and petting a King Charles spaniel while making a pouty face.

Left: Jordan and Yoshi, the Australian shepherd. Right: Jordan and the King Charles spaniel. Photo: Chris Bethell

Commanding Yoshi around the room and showering him in “good boy”’s without a tinge of irony, I felt the clouds of heaven parting above to shower me in The Light. Dogs are fucking great, actually, and maybe I even want one.

Outfit: 5/5
Cuddliness: 5/5
Manners: 5/5
Overall Vibes: 5/5