A dashing liver flat-coated retriever is the third of his breed to win this prestigious award since 1928.
A flat-coated retriever named Baxer is crowned as Best in Show at Crufts Dog Show at National Exhibition Centre on March 13, 2022 in Birmingham, England.
Credit: Katja Ogrin / Getty

After a 2021 pandemic hiatus, the international dog show Crufts once again celebrated fine breeds from around the world. During an engaging four days of competition in Birmingham, England, Baxer—a 6-year-old flat-coated retriever—took home the top prize of Best in Show on March 13.

His co-owner and handler, Patrick Oware of Oslo, Norway, was simply overcome with emotion. "Baxer never lets me down, he's always happy and energetic. He's a fantastic dog! I don't have any words, it's just amazing, and I'm really proud of him. He's a true credit to his breed," he said in a Crufts statement. 

Who Is Baxer?

Officially known as Baxer (CH Almanza Backseat Driver), he entered the running for top dog after winning the Gundog Group title (which is similar to the Sporting Group category of the National Dog Show in America). "Baxer is a true flat coat, always happy, has this amazing will to please and always wants to work for his owners and handlers," Oware said in a Crufts release after the show. "His tail never stops! This dog is my dream dog, my best friend. I was just hoping for a placement in the class!" 

Baxer is the third flat-coat but the first liver to win the coveted Best in Show prize. The others were Ch. Shargleam Blackcap in 1980, followed by Sh Ch. Vbos the Kentuckian in 2011.

Bred in Sweden by Ragnhild Ulin, you'll notice in the TikTok below from Crufts how Baxer struts his stuff beautifully, demonstrating exactly why he led the pack this year of 16,000 participants from 38 countries in the return of the largest show of its kind in the world.

Yes indeed, that's one tasty, well-earned rosette, Baxer!

The Origin of Crufts

The namesake of the show is Charles Cruft, once a general manager of a dog biscuit company, who managed a show of different terrier breeds in 1886. The first canine conformation competition in his name began in 1891 with 36 different dog breeds and nearly 2,500 entries. By 1936, the show reached 10,000 entries and established the foundation for the international program we enjoy today.

In addition to championship conformation, Crufts incorporates into each annual program:

The breed with the most top wins at Crufts is the English cocker spaniel, with seven Best in Show titles thus far. The most successful group is Gundog—Baxer marks the 23rd time a dog from this group won Best in Show.

Unlike other dog shows and competitions, Crufts, now organized in the U.K. by The Kennel Club, doesn't have a large purse for the Best in Show winner. Oware and Baxer received a cash prize of £100 (approximately $130) and a replica of the solid silver Crufts Keddall Memorial Trophy. The recognition often leads to stud fees and sponsorship deals.

How Did Baxer the Flat-Coated Retriever Win the 2022 Crufts

Since Crufts isn't an open competition, dogs progress through various qualifying competitions throughout the year to become eligible.

  • First, dogs compete against the same breed, divided by age, gender, and previous class wins. Males and females compete in eight different classes overall, and they must obtain first, second, or third placement to advance.
  • Next, the male and female compete for the Challenge Certificate, and then face off with one another to become Best in Breed.
  • The Best of Breed at this stage then competes against others in their group. In UK dog shows, there are seven groups: Gundog, Hounds, Pastoral, Terriers, Toys, Utility, and Working. Each Best in Group winner advances to the final Best in Show competition.

Sharing the drama of the final stage in 2022 with Baxer were the following group winners: 

  • Hounds: Aya (Ch Ina's Fashion Desirable), a 4-year-old greyhound from Germany
  • Pastoral: Lenor (Etched in the Sand by the Lake), a 1-year-old border collie from Hungary
  • Terriers: Donnie (Turith Adonis), a 4-year-old Irish terrier from England
  • Toys: Conan (CH Royal Precious JP's F4 Conan), a 6-year-old Yorkshire terrier from Spain
  • Utility: Waffle (Ch Afterglow Agent Orange), 1-year-old toy poodle from England, who also won Reserve Best in Show
  • Working: Akela (CH Siberiadrift Keep The Love For Zimavolk), a 6-year-old Siberian husky from England

Congratulations to Baxer and his best human pal Oware! Their bond is so obvious, and represents a friendship we'd all be lucky to have, and that's a momentous win for sure. We can't wait to see them again!