A NETHERTON woman with a passion pugs is preparing to deliver her verdict at the world’s biggest canine convention.

Lynda Bissell has been invited to judge the pug section at Crufts 2014 where 300 hounds will come under her expert gaze.

Mrs Bissell began breeding pugs as a schoolgirl in 1958 and has won 13 championships and although she is an experienced dog show judge, being invited to choose the winner at Crufts is a major honour.

She said: “It is like being awarded an Olympic medal, I can die happy now. You don’t get a penny for being a judge at Crufts but it is very prestigious.”

Being a Crufts judge is a high point for breeders but it is also a high-pressure position with the eyes of the dog world focused upon every decision where winners can be sold for four-figure sums.

Lynda Bissell said: “There is only one judge and you can feel the knives in your back when you are judging, it is very cut-throat.

“I never give favours, people know they are getting what I truly feel, not who is on the other end of the lead.

“It is very rare for pugs to be sold - they are pets, I once got an offer from a man who said ‘here is an open cheque book, name your price’.”

Crufts 2014 will take place at Birmingham’s NEC from Thursday March 6 to Sunday March 9 and Mrs Bissell will be scrutinising every pug in the show to ensure they meet Kennel Club standards.

She said: “You have got to know the dog inside out as a breed, it is open to how you interpret the standards, everybody has their own ideas.”

Pugs are regarded as one of the oldest breeds of dog and their history can be traced back to China in 700BC.

The breed is believed to have arrived in Europe during the 16th century and became highly popular, Napoleon’s wife Josephine had a pug and refused to sleep in their bed on her wedding night unless the dog was also in the bed.

Pugs were introduced into the UK in the 1860s and Queen Victoria’s love of the breed helped establish the Kennel Club.

Mrs Bissell said: “They were bred as a companion dog, they have a fantastic temperament, they are fun loving and affectionate - a little dog with a big personality.”