Crufts 2019: Britain's most pampered pets stun TV viewers - best pictures

CANINES of all shapes and sizes showed off their glossy coats and shiny noses when Crufts got under way yesterday.

Up to 22,000 dogs are competing for the prestigious title of Best in Show at the NEC in Birmingham. But first they must attract the attention of the judges during the four-day contest which has already seen gundogs like this Afghan and American cocker spaniel put through their paces. The dogwalk parade began in earnest at 5am with competitors and their owners trotting into the arena sporting a variety of eye-catching onesies, fleeces and even colourful snoods to keep their ears extra warm - and their pristine coats in tip-top condition.

Read also:   Crufts 2019: Britain's most loved pups - The most popular dog in YOUR area MAPPED CRUFTS 2019 has seen dogs and their owners descend on Birmingham for one of the world’s largest dog shows.

Founded by Charles Cruft in the late 19th century, each day is dedicated to a different breed - gundog, working and pastoral, terrier and hound and toy and utility categories.

There are six show rings, including the main arena and this year five pets who have gone above and beyond the call of duty are in the running for Crufts' dog hero competition.

The event has courted controversy in recent years with protesters branding the competition "cruel".

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A woman from Portugal displays her samoyed dog (Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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An Irish setter looks out from its pen on the first day of the Crufts dog show in Birmingham (Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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A woman grooms her cocker spaniel dog at the show (Image: OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

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Crufts in progress at the National Exhibition Centre on March 7 in Birmingham (Image: Peter Dench/Getty Images)

But The Kennel Club has said it is "committed to ensuring that all dogs have the opportunity to lead healthy, happy lives, with responsible owners."

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners in the United States spent $60.28 billion on their furry friends in 2015. That number is expected to rise by more than $2 billion in 2016.

Human celebrities joined their four-legged friends before the cameras and included Love Island star Chris Hughes, actress Jorgie Porter and rapper Professor Green.

The overall winner in 1918 was Tease, a whippet from Scotland, but Betway is backing a gundog to walk away with the top prize this year.

Odds are currently at 11/8 with terriers nipping at their heels at 7/4.