A UNITED States champion, two glamorous sisters and a little record breaker called Grimley are among the region’s pooches hoping for victory at Crufts this week.

The world’s most famous dog show returns to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre on Thursday, March 8, for a four-day celebration of man – and woman’s – best friend. Dog lovers across the North-East and Yorkshire are heading down to the event but one of the region’s strongest contenders has travelled even further to compete.

Born and bred in the UK, Ringo, a two-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was exported over to Utah in the US to live with Teri and Tom Keetch. He has enjoyed great success in the States and was recently named American Champion.

With no higher accolade to win in the US, this year Ringo, whose kennel name is Am Ch Samross American Dream, is now hoping to impress UK judges with his co-owners Kelly and Stephen Wilson from Spennymoor. Mr and Mrs Leech and their family will also flyover from Utah to watch him compete in the open dog class.

Ringo will be accompanied by Mrs Wilson’s other Staffies, multi-award-winning Jessie, who will be compete as Bullhawk Jessie Jay at Northstaff in the open bitch class, and ten-month-old Conor, also known as Northstaff Notorious.

As well as daily walks, the trio have been enjoying swimming and hydrotherapy sessions at Butterwick Animal Rehab Clinic in Sedgefield on the run up to the show.

Mrs Wilson said: “I love everything about Staffordshire Bull Terriers - the way they look, their temperament - they really are lovely, friendly dogs. We are really looking forward to going to Crufts. It’s a fantastic event.”

Also hoping for success at the show are litter sisters Blanche and Siena, a pair of two-year-old Dalmatians from Thirsk in North Yorkshire. Blanche, whose kennel name is Roadcoach Rejoice with Dalesbred, belongs to Diane Dinsdale, who has had pet Dalmatians since 1973.

Siena, whose kennel name is Roadcoach Ray of Sunshine belongs to Mrs Dinsdale’s friend, Christina Pickup. The pair will compete in the Dalmatian post-graduate class.

Mrs Dinsdale said: “Blanche has been to Crufts before and she was placed, which I was very pleased about because she was young and is quite immature physically. I’m looking forward to see how she gets on this year.”

Grimley the Border Terrier, meanwhile, is a seasoned show goer and is one of three dogs being entered by Colin Hall from Northallerton.

Grimley, whose kennel name is CH/GERCH Brackenfell Bok To Bach JW, is the all-time winning Border Terrier and breed record holder, having won Best of Breed at Crufts, the World Dog Show and countless other competitions.