HUNDREDS of breeders, owners and dog lovers are preparing for one of the biggest dog shows in the North-East this weekend.

The Darlington Championship Dog Show will be held at Ripon Racecourse from Friday September 14 to Sunday September 16.

The three-day event will see hundreds of registered breeds come out in force as owners look to impress expert judges.

Roughly 6,606 canines will compete in the Crufts qualifier over the coming days under seven categories.

Friday will kick-off the competition with Hound, Terrier and Utility groups followed by Working and Pastoral groups on Saturday.

The weekend will finish with Sunday's Gundog and Toy groups and the winners will gather together in the ring on Sunday evening to determine Best in Show.

There will also be awards for Best Veteran in Show and Best Puppy in Show.

The weekend will see a wide selection of breeds from the Afghan Hound, Japanese Spitz and Alaskan Malamute to the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd and English Springer Spaniel.

Sarah Allsopp, Chair of the Darlington Dog Show Society said: “The history of the show goes back to the 1800s but it’s our 50th anniversary since the Darlington Dog Show Society inauguration.

“We’re hoping that the weather’s nice and the public is welcome to come in and spend a weekend with us as every breed registered at the Kennel Club will be here. If they have a favourite breed of dog they can come and see them on show.”

Each dog throughout the weekend will be judged on factors such as health, fitness, temperament and how happy they appear.

There will be a number of Variety and Stakes Classes for each day such as Special Beginners Stakes, Young Kennel Club Handling Classes and the Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme.

The Puppy Stakes Classes count as a qualifier for the national Eukanuba Pup of the Year competition as a recent addition to the Crufts lineup.

Like the other qualifiers, the puppy winner of the weekend will be invited to compete in Crufts in March next year.

The show will be open to the public from 7am and judging will commence at 9am each day.

Entry onto the grounds is free and parking is available at a charge of £10 per car for visitors and £5 for exhibitors.

Visitors may bring their own dogs as a spectator dog provided they are aged six months and over.

Spectator dogs need to be registered through a form upon entry at a cost of £5 per dog.

As well as showcasing dog breeds there will be several trade stands, fast food stalls and a bar and restaurant.

Miss Allsopp added: “We will be putting up extra banners and we’ve got things like commemorative serviettes to celebrate the 50th anniversary

"We have won the Championship Show of the Year two times and we are the only Championship show in the country that has won this Pawscars award twice, so it will be absolutely perfect.”

More information can be found online at