Advertising has used the image of the faithful canine pretty much since printing made adverts possible—and now an exhibition is looking back at the history of doggy goods. From the more obvious dog-related adverts—such as dog food—to the weird ones —what has a dog got to do with toilet paper or painting your home?

Housed in the Kennel Club’s basement art gallery, the exhibition is dotted around the room in amongst the permenant display.

While hardly a secret to dog show fans, I hadn’t given much thought to how the famous Crufts Dog Show got its name — named after Charles Cruft, who worked for Spratt’s, a manufacturer of dog biscuits, with an eventually huge factory in East London. Today Spratts is best remembered in the surviving factory building and for not much else but Cruft’s lives on.

The exhibition shows off the association with breeding dogs and… cigarettes, in the form of collectible cigarette cards. Canines seem destined to promote the vices though, with Black and White whiskey using dogs in its branding and an example of dogs in cigar wrappers.

Dulux is here, obviously, but not the Andrex puppy — maybe they ran out during the pandemic. Apparently telling people there’s a dog in every pack of Hornimans tea was a selling feature once.

If you’ve ever noticed shops putting a bowl of water outside for the dogs to force dog owners to linger by the shop window, one of the earliest branded dog bowls was from Hudson’s Soap—although presumably not soapy water. The slogan on the side of “Drink Puppy Drink” was a popular music hall song of the time celebrating fox hunting and drinking.

Apart from the temporary exhibition, there’s a lot of doggy art on display. The huge Crufts Kendall Memorial Trophy is also on display, but the winners of Crufts don’t get it —they get a replica instead.

You’re free to take photos of the exhibition, except for one portrait in the gallery, which is on loan from the Tate.

If you visit, have a look at the two large posters advertising Crufts in the 1980s. In 1984, the bottom corner of the poster says that “A limited number of prams or pushchairs can be admitted at the discretion of the organisers”, but the 1987 poster says “No prams or pushchairs will be admitted”

What on earth happened in 1985 or 86 for them to ban prams from Crufts?

The exhibition, Dogs in Advertising is open until 30th August 2024 and is free to visit. You need to arrange a visit as you can’t just wander in — and details to do that are here.

The Kennel Club headquarters is on Clarges Street, a short walk from Green Park tube station.


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