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(Updated 14/7/01)

In the beginning ...was the National Dog Club

The first of a short series of articles by Mark Hutchings, former Chairman of Crufts Committee

ACCORDING TO E W Jaquet in ‘The Kennel Club - a history and record of its work’ The National Dog Club (NDC) was founded on 2nd February 1869 and he inferred the club had little impact on the foundation of the Kennel Club (KC) in 1873 which he considered was the outcome of earlier Crystal Palace dog shows. However, articles in ‘The Field, the Country Gentleman’s Newspaper’, and ‘Land and Water’ tend to suggest otherwise.

The Shooting Dog Club (The SDC) was founded in early 1867 and a list of original members reveals they were mainly wealthy landowners resident in southern England who used dogs to help them when they were shooting. ‘The Field’ supported the idea of this club but in one editorial drew the attention of readers to what it considered was an unfortunate title. Unfortunately, ‘an influential nobleman’ declined to support the club, and was antagonistic towards it because one of is favourite retrievers had just been accidentally shot - other gentlemen supported him.

Several meetings of the SDC took place in 1867 and 1868 but at a meeting of the club on the 1st December 1868 in Birmingham under the chairmanship of Mr R T L Price, the name was changed to the NDC. Other resolutions passed included the suggested production of a stud book; the organisation of a show in 1869 for all breeds of dog and that a register of members dogs should be kept.


Another meeting of the NDC was held at The Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool on 17th December 1868, this time with George Russell Rogerson, a Liverpool solicitor, in the chair. Among the resolutions passed was one concerning club membership; an increase in the size of the committee; Mr Douglas to be the show manager in 1869; the secretary to maintain a list of members’ dogs and a number of new members were elected.

A further meeting of the NDC was held at Belle Vue Gardens, Manchester on 24th December 1868, again with Mr Rogerson in the chair. Among the resolutions passed was that two prominent members were added to the committee, seven members were appointed to draw up club rules and that breed standards be prepared for the future guidance of judges.

All three meetings of The NDC in 1868 coincided with shows in the major cities of England. ‘Land and Water’ could find no fault with the rules which appeared in February 1969. Rule three stated ‘A donation of ten guineas shall constitute a life member and a subscription of one guinea a yearly member. No member shall incur any liability beyond his subscription’. Further meetings of The NDC were proposed including one at Hanley in January 1869.
The club eventually held a show for all dog breeds at Laycocks Dairy Yard, Liverpool Road, Islington, London on 1st - 3rd June 1869 and ‘Land and Water’ indicated that no other type of all breed dog show had taken place in London in the previous three years. Some people stated it was the finest dog show held at that time and ‘Land and Water’ mentioned that taken as a whole the exhibition was above the usual average.

On the positive side the show attracted 958 entries and 400 other entries were refused due to lack of space. The entries far exceeded those at other shows held previously, including the all breed dog show organised by the Birmingham Dog Show Society annually since 1860 and at which there was a one guinea subscription, a practice not followed at the NDC show.

The show attracted five entries from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII in 1901, and Her Royal Highness The Princess of Wales. Their entries were two Borzois, Molodetz, a magnificent black and white dog and Oudatschka, a white bitch with some fawn colour, both presented by the Tsar of Russia, also a Bloodhound named Vulcan and a pair of fine Mastiffs named Druid and Duchess. At 5.30 p.m. on the 2nd June 1960, their royal highnesses made an official visit to the show accompanied by The Crown Prince of Denmark, who was the brother of The Princess of Wales. They were received at the entrance by George Russell Rogerson, the chairman of The NDC and introduced to two of the judges, Messrs Lort and Walker. These three men then escorted the royal party around the show during which time they showed considerable interest in the exhibits.

It also attracted many spectators and at the time of the show the NDC had in excess of 200 members. In ‘The Field’ of 5th June 1869, Rev. T Pearce, who had the pseudonym “Idstone’, wrote “We are glad to be able to assert that the first exhibition held under the auspices of this club - now numbering amongst it’s members all the most distinguished breeders and many celebrated sportsmen - has been a complete success”.


On the negative side the judges generally refused to judge dogs by ‘the points system’, which was suggested by the organising committee, opposed by ‘Land and Water’ but supported by ‘The Field’. The show was not a financial success and there were organisational problems.

It was the one and only show organised by the NDC, but seven of the twelve gentlemen who assisted Mr S E Shirley and Mr J H Murchison to organise the first Crystal Palace show in 1870 had been members of the NDC.
At least four of the twelve gentlemen who founded the KC with Mr S E Shirley in April 1873 and at least four of the eleven gentlemen who organised the first KC show at the Crystal Palace in June 1973, and been members of the NDC.

Unfortunately, it appears Jaquet may have been wrong when he wrote that the NDC was founded on 2nd February 1869, and this error appears to have been followed by the authors of many books in the 20th century. I will leave readers to ponder whether the NDC was influential in the foundation of the KC but it is interesting to note that The KC website on the Internet has recently mentioned the NDC for the first time.

Readers should note that there is no connection between the NDC and the Birmingham Dog Show Society whose shows were originally ‘National Exhibitions of Sporting and other Dogs’ but appear to have evolved into “National Dog Shows’. In fact ‘Birmingham Dog Show Society’ appears as ‘The Birmingham National Dog Show Society’ in the 1999 Kennel Club Stud Book for the very first time. Nor is there any connection with The National Dog Society, Nottingham, which was active against the KC during the late 19th century.