Crufts has clamped down on flat-faced dogs after warning its judges not to award prizes to animals that are unable to breathe. Ahead of this year’s event, which commences tomorrow, organisers The Kennel Club have issued judges of all brachycephalic breeds a written reminder about over exaggerated features. In previous years Crufts has come under heavy criticism for awarding prizes to dogs with artificially bred features.In 2016, a “best in breed” prize was awarded to a German shepherd with an abnormally sloped back and a painful-looking out-of -step gait. Backlash of the award has forced The Kennel Club to rethink its policy on breeding. Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club secretary, said: “Dogs with exaggerated features do remain a concern and we want to put a stop to this and change how people breed their dogs. Last year a “best in breed” prize was awarded to a German shepherd with an abnormally sloped backCredit:Sandra Whyte The club stated that the letter emphasised how important it is that the judges only select dogs that meet strict breeding standards criteria.They added that it was part of their “commitment to ensuring that all dogs at Crufts are fit to compete and are not suffering in any way and that no dogs that have exaggerated physical features are awarded at the show.”In 2008 the BBC announced it would not broadcast Crufts due to a dispute over the inclusion of certain breeds of pedigree dog in the competition. Ms Hens added that the RSPCA still had “serious concerns” about the main showing and judging at Crufts due to the way in which many breeds of dogs have been bred over the years to have exaggerated physical features in order to appeal to judges and best meet breed standards in the show ring. In the same year the RSPCA also announced it was pulling out of Crufts over concerns relating to disability, deformity and disease among pedigree breeds.RSPCA dog welfare expert Lisa Hens said: “Some elements of Crufts are a positive celebration of man’s best friend and we enjoy seeing the dogs and their owners coming together to enjoy activities such as agility, flyball and heelwork to music. “We welcome steps that have been taken to improve the health of certain breeds – such as the formation of the multi-organisation Brachycephalic Working Group, which includes the Kennel Club – but believe there is still a lot of work to be done around Crufts and the show world generally to ensure that dogs are celebrated and awarded with their health, happiness and welfare given priority over their appearance.” “Over the last few years we have introduced a number of new rules and this year we have extended our veterinary final checks to cover all dogs which will enter the main arena for a physical examination.“All judges involved in the judging of brachycephalic breeds, those with flat-faces, were sent a letter reminding them of the breeding standards and that all dogs should have open nostrils.“We remain dedicated to ensuring that breeds which have harmful exaggerated features are not rewarded.” The “Best in Show” will be announced on Sunday evening The letter emphasised how important it is that the judges only select dogs that meet strict breeding standards criteriaCredit:Tim Flach/Getty “Shows like Crufts are fundamentally still beauty pageant-type shows and the way that dogs are bred in order to win these shows is still having a huge impact on their health and welfare,” she said.Director of PETA UK also accused the event of being a “Frankensteinian show that glorifies pedigree fetishists’ obsession with the ‘perfectly’ designed dog to the detriment of the animals themselves.”However Ms Kisko said audiences were not watching Crufts to see “freak dogs” and that hundreds of thousands of viewers tune in because they love animals. Crufts commences tomorrow and will conclude on Sunday with the announcement of ‘Best in Show’.