A VITAL member of the Duke of Wellington's Regiment was crowned top dog at Crufts last night.

English springer spaniel Buster received the PDSA's Dickin Medal for "outstanding gallantry" for his work while with the Dukes in Iraq.

Buster, who in his normal Army life is a search dog for the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, won the award - along with handler Sgt Danny Morgan - after more than 45,000 TV viewers voted for them.

Six-year-old Buster won the medal - regarded as the canine equivalent of the Victoria Cross - for an extraordinary piece of doggy detection in the southern Iraq town of Safwan.

He was called in after three failed searches of a property believed to be the headquarters of extremists responsible for attacks on British forces.

Within minutes he had found a cache which included AK47 assault rifles, a pistol, six primed grenades, grenade fuses, ammunition, cash, drugs and literature.

The citation read: "Buster is responsible for having saved the lives of countless troops and civilians and prevented untold misery for thousands of people should the weapons and drugs have been used or put into circulation."

The Dukes are on their second tour of duty in Iraq.

The regiment's 1st Battalion is stationed near Basra, in southern Iraq.