The Kennel Club has announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition.

Now in its twelfth year, the international competition received almost 10,000 entries from 74 different countries around the globe, including Canada, Russia, Brazil and New Zealand.

Alasdair MacLeod from Maybole, Ayrshire has been selected as the winner of the competition’s ‘Assistance Dog’ category. This particular award within the competition comes with a £500 prize for the charity of the winner’s choice. Alasdair has chosen to donate the money to Therapet, a scheme run by charitable organisation Canine Concern Scotland that recruits volunteer dogs (and their owners) to visit people who are in need of a little companionship.

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Megan, the canine subject of Alasdair’s winning photo was chosen as the top Therapet of 2016.

The candid image portrays the strong bond between the rescued Greyhound and 95-year-old RAF veteran Duncan Currie who flew in the Dambusters squadron and now resides at South Beach Care Home in Saltcoats where Megan visits once a week.

Upon winning a category in the biggest canine photography competition in the world, the dog owner and father of four said: “I wanted to show how Megan brings a calming and happy experience to the residents at a care home, where she visits on a regular basis. I was just looking for her loving eyes to catch the attention of one of the residents.

“The image of Megan and Duncan shows the two of them naturally bonding, and means a lot to myself as someone who has a family member with dementia. I feel this image shows how dogs are so loving as well as having a calming influence over humans.

“To win the ‘Assistance Dog’ category was quite a surprise, especially with such a high number of entries for Dog Photographer of the Year. I enjoy photographing dogs in action, informal portraits capturing humour and affection and also more formal portraits.”

The Kennel Club’s Dog Photographer of the Year competition comprises ten categories: Portrait, Man’s Best Friend, Dogs At Play, Dogs At Work, Puppy, Oldies, I Love Dogs Because… (for entrants aged between 12 and 17 years old), Young Pup Photographer (for entrants aged 11 and under), Assistance Dogs and Rescue Dogs.

The other category winners were: Maria Davison from Portugal who won both the ‘Man’s Best Friend’ category and ‘Overall Winner’ prize with her image of a weary puppy; Kaylee Greer from the United States, who won the ‘Dogs at Play’ category with a photo of Petey the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, playing on the south coast of Boston; Mirjam Schreurs from the Netherlands, who won the ‘Puppy’ category with a lovely image of Tyson the baby Boxer; Anastasia Vetkovskaya from Russia, who won the ‘Dog Portrait’ category with a stunning monochrome image of an Afghan Hound; Sarah Caldecott from Yorkshire who won the ‘Dogs at Work’ category with a muted portrait of Rita the Pointer on the moors of County Durham; ‘Young Pup Photographer’ winner, 8 year-old Dylan Jenkins from Swansea; Julian Gottfried from the United States who won the ‘I Love Dogs Because…’ category; John Liot from Jersey, who won the ‘Oldies’ category with a relaxed portrait of 12 year-old rescue dog, Kelly; and Alexandra Robins from Wiltshire who won the ‘Rescue Dog’ category for her intimate portrait of rescue dog Chloe with her carer at Bath Cats and Dogs Home.

This year’s Dog Photographer of the Year competition is sponsored by SmugMug, the dog-loving photo sharing site for professional photographers, and Nikon School, a photography training establishment that aims to educate and inspire photographers.

SmugMug’s European Manager, Alastair Jolly commented: “SmugMug's continued involvement in the competition is one of the highlights of the year for a company like ours that loves celebrating photography and is passionate about dogs. It is an honour to be asked to judge such a prestigious competition, even if it is such a hard task with so many amazing images entered again this year. It is a thrill each year to see such wonderful images from all corners of the world, quite clearly captured by people as passionate as we are.”

Neil Freeman from Nikon School added: “Nikon School is proud to support the Dog Photographer of the Year competition and looks forward to working with the Kennel Club on future photography collaborations and projects.”

The overall winner will receive an original oil painting of their image by artist Sara Abbott and a VIP mentorship day with international dog photographer and competition alumni Andy Biggar.

All category winners will have their images on display at the Kennel Club in Mayfair, London and have won a SmugMug business account to showcase their work online and a one day course at the prestigious Nikon School in London, as well as a trophy and exhibition print presented during an award ceremony in September.

The Assistance Dog and Rescue Dog category winners also receive a £500 donation from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust to their chosen dog charity. The judges for this year’s competition were Editor of Amateur Photography Magazine, Nigel Atherton; professional dog photographer, Yulia Titovets; Nikon UK representative, Neil Freeman; SmugMug’s European Manager, Alastair Jolly; and Kennel Club representatives Rosemary Smart, Chief Executive; Simon Luxmoore, Chairman, and Pauline Luxmoore-Ball.

Rosemary Smart, Kennel Club Chief Executive said: “The quality of the entries to the Dog Photographer of the Year competition never ceases to amaze. This year there has been a huge number of beautifully executed and impressive photographs, making it incredibly difficult for the judges to choose just one winner for the overall prize and a single winning photographer for each category. All of this year’s entrants beautifully captured the qualities that make dogs so very special and dear to our hearts, and we look forward to seeing more work from the winners in the future.”

All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in London from 26th June until 31st August 2017. The exhibition is open to the public and free to visit by appointment. Anyone wishing to visit should contact the Art Gallery office artgallery@thekennelclub.org.uk.

To view all the winning images visit: www.dogphotographeroftheyear.org.uk.