Tessie with her owner, Nkosikhona Mkhize, took the title of Best In Show at the Umgeni SPCA/Hills Township Dog Show last year. Picture: Carol Brummage

The search for a township’s top dogs will take place at Mpophomeni, outside Howick, on Sunday, when about 300 animals are expected to compete in the annual event.

The Umgeni SPCA/Hill’s Township Dog Show, now in its 10th year, is the oldest and largest township dog show, turning the old idea that caring for a dog is “unAfrican” on its head.

Only dogs from the local community are invited to take part and the R5 entry fee makes the show possibly the cheapest in South Africa.

It includes treatment at an open air vet clinic, where each dog is de-wormed, vaccinated for rabies and other diseases, and dipped.

Each entrant in the six classes also gets a new collar, lead, bowl, blanket, premium Hill’s pet food and a rosette.

Dudu Abraham, operations manager at uMngeni SPCA, said the judges were not interested in breed standards.

“The winning dogs will be those that are in excellent health, are clearly well cared for and have a loving relationship with their owners,” she said.

The “dog show with a difference” also has a significant impact in reducing the number of unwanted pets as many owners decide to have their dogs sterilised.

The event, at the Zamuthule School in Boston Road, starts at 9am with the vet clinic, then a demonstration by the Funda Nenja dog training group at about 10.30am.

The dog show will start at about 11am (the timing will depend on the number of entrants). - Barbara Cole