Brilliant photos of British dog shows of the 1960s and ’70s:

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Dogs are so hot right now. 
 
Click on the social media platform of your choice, and you’ll soon be met with a never-ending showreel of pups of every kind: cute French bulldogs, daft-but-loveable labradors, and if you’re lucky, snappy Jack Russells being chased by ‘I‘ve had all I can take’ alsatians. 
 
While endlessly re-watching a Boomerang video on Instagram seems very modern, judging other people’s dogs is not new. Since the 19th century, dog shows (the first was in 1859) have given owners the chance to pit their pups against other dogs, with marks awarded for obedience, initiative and the ability to run up and down a see-saw. 
 
In the 1960s and ’70s, photographer Shirley Baker travelled to dog shows around the UK to document both the immaculately turned-out dogs and their equally coiffured owners. Her work has now been collated in a new book, Dog Show 1961-’78.
 
Baker’s shots show a Britain both familiar and alien: a country of fearsome old ladies in severe spectacles, tired-looking men (probably called 'Vic' or 'Ken') smoking fags and lots of people hanging around, waiting for the iPhone to be invented. 
 
While the differences between then and now are great, dig a little deeper and you’ll see that essential British quirks – a love of animals; a taste for competition and hobbies – remain. Old ladies may no longer wear ‘Dame Edna’ specs, but as Instagram shows, we’ll never tire of loving and comparing our four-legged friends. 
 
Dog Show 1961-’78 by Shirley Baker is published by Hoxton Mini Press, priced £14.95. More here: hoxtonminipress.com







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