6-9 March 2025, The NEC Birmingham

The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award

Crufts Kennel Club Hero Dog Award winner, Niamh, Darcy and Libby Clegg Credit BeatMedia - The Kennel Club

Hero Dog Award 2024 winner

Vesper, a heroic search and rescue dog, was crowned winner of The Kennel Club Hero Dog Award at Crufts 2024. Four-year-old Vesper, a Belgian Malinois, was a finalist in the Extraordinary Life of a Working Dog category with her owner and handler, Niamh, from Merseyside.

Vesper, originally named Venom, was deemed unsuitable to become a police dog - while she excelled in all other aspects, running at criminals for a cuddle is not the expectation of a police dog!

Niamh Darcy, a dog handler from Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, took a chance on Vesper in 2020 when she was 18 months old. After a 48 hour trial under arduous selection conditions, Vesper performed flawlessly and their bond as a team was solid – and Vesper joined Niamh as her canine search partner. They went from strength to strength, achieving their qualified status as a search team; an asset available to be mobilised to searches of structural collapse across the UK. In 2023, Niamh and Vesper were part of the chosen UK International Search and Rescue Team and were deployed by the Government to aid in the rescue mission following the horrific earthquakes in both Turkey and Morocco, where they worked tirelessly to locate survivors.  

Vesper quickly became an integral part of this brave and dedicated team, working around the clock, using her nose to locate survivors trapped under the rubble.  Read more here.

Nominations are now open for the 2025 award, our five categories are: 
Extraordinary life of a working dog

For those who have shown extraordinary qualities working in the army, police force, RAF, airport, search and rescue etc. 

Hero support dog

Celebrating all support and assistance dogs, from guide dogs, hearing dogs, medical detection dogs and autism assistance dogs to support dogs, including therapy dogs or pets who provide emotional support.

Best friends

Celebrating a pet dog who has seen its owner through the hardest times, as well as the happiest.

Child’s champion

Recognising a dog that has supported and had a positive impact on a child's life (17 years and under).

Rescue dog hero

For a rescue dog who has overcome adversity and gone on to improve the life of its owner/s.

We want to celebrate and share the amazing stories of how dogs give back to us every day of our lives. There is one finalist per category and an overall winner, decided through a public vote, will be announced in the main arena at Crufts. The winner and the runners up will receive generous donations from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust for their nominated canine charity, to help make a difference for dogs. 

Find out more about our amazing previous hero dog finalists and winners on our YouTube Channel.

If you own, are partnered with, or know of a dog that is an everyday hero, has changed a life, brought happiness or allows someone to live their day-to-day life more easily, please nominate them for The Kennel Club Dog Hero Award 2025 below. 


Nominations for 2025

The annual Kennel Club Hero Dog Award celebrates the unique relationship people have with their dogs, the important role man’s best friend plays throughout our lives and the support they give us in the face of adversity. Nominations for the 2025 award are now open.

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