6 min read

Puppy Bowl 2023


Written by Adam Lee-Smith

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 02/06/2023, edited: 01/26/2024


Super Bowl LVII was a classic — it was one of the highest-scoring Super Bowls in history and a super close game, with the Chiefs just edging out the Eagles. Earlier in the day on February 12, another game went down to the wire: the Puppy Bowl 2023!

The Puppy Bowl XIX was the biggest and best game in the event's history. Let's take a look back at the highlights from the 2023 Puppy Bowl, who was crowned MVP, and much more!

What is the Puppy Bowl?

The Puppy Bowl is an annual TV special by Animal Planet that pits puppies against one another in a football-inspired game. First taking place on Super Bowl Sunday in 2005, the Puppy Bowl involves 2 teams of puppies from animal shelters. Millions of homes nationwide tune in to watch this charming contest each year.

Since its premiere, the Super Bowl has expanded past pups to other cute critters. There's a kitten halftime show, as well as a host of hamsters, rabbits, chickens, and even penguins.

In 2023, Wisdom Panel™ provided DNA tests of puppy competitors to see which doggo has a sporting advantage. The Puppy Bowl takes place in a puppy-sized (and easily cleanable) stadium with canned cheering from fans so the pups can focus on scoring touchdowns.

The Puppy Bowl's goal is to raise awareness about pet adoption. The Puppy Bowl takes the health of all pups involved very seriously — a vet, as well as reps from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), help ensure the show meets welfare standards.

What are the rules of the Puppy Bowl?

The rules of the Puppy Bowl are super simple. Two teams — Team Ruff and Team Fluff — have to drag a chew toy into either end zone to score a puppy touchdown. Team Ruff will play in red, and Team Fluff will play in blue.

Between 12 and 15 puppies take the field simultaneously, with breaks after 20 minutes. At the Puppy Bowl 2023, 122 dogs from 67 shelters/rescues and 34 states participated.

Dogs receive penalties for "unsportsmanlike" behavior — growling, pooping on the field, humping, etc. The show uses hilarious football-based puns like "ineligible retriever downfield" as the name for some penalties. These penalties usually involve the "rufferee" giving the yard penalties or timeouts.

The team with the most puppy touchdowns at the end takes home the "Lombarky" Trophy. Team Fluff are the reigning champions from 2022, edging out Team Ruff to win 73-69.

Puppy Players of the Puppy Bowl 2023

Over 120 dogs are participating in this year's Puppy Bowl, with dozens of pups vying to be MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) and join the ranks of the greatest-ever Puppy Bowl athletes. Among the starting lineups for the Puppy Bowl XIX are 11 special-needs pups that are up for adoption. Here's the lowdown on these adoptable doggos. 

  • Mykonos — From Bosley's Place in Smyrna, GA. This American Staffordshire Terrier/Bulldog's breeder surrendered him after discovering he had a cleft palate and couldn't nurse from his mother. Now he's an active pup that loves long snoozes. 

  • Bea — From ARF Beacon in Beacon, NY. Bea is deaf and was brought to ARF Beacon with her sister. With each other's help, these doggos have become super-friendly fur-babies.  

  • Joey — From Vintage Pet Rescue in Foster, RI. Joey was born without his front paws and uses a special wheelchair to get around. He loves to play with other special-needs dogs and is certain to make you smile.

  • Cheeky Tinker — From Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, Virginia. Cheeky Tinker is hearing impaired but gets straight A's in her behavioral training. Her beautiful blue eyes and energetic personality make her one charismatic canine. 

  • Julius — From Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, VA. Julius the Dalmatian suffers from hearing loss and has been preparing for this year's event with the help of Puppy Bowl alumni Hank, another deaf dalmatian that played in the Puppy Bowl XVII. 

  • Kayden — From Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy, VA. Another pupper from Troy, Kayden is hearing-impaired. He's one of the happiest doggos taking the field with his beautiful white fluffy coat. 

  • Little Mighty — From Indy Humane in Indianapolis, IN. This sweet "tripawd" is a Pittie mix that loves to play and cuddle.

  • Mini — From Rescue Dogs Rock in New York City, NY. Mini lost one of her legs, but that hasn't slowed down this tiny pooch with a big "paw-sonality."

  • Clover — Rescue Dogs Rock in New York City, NY. Born with a fused paw, Clover's original owner had planned to have her euthanized until Rescue Dogs Rock came to help. Now she lives a full life and loves to play with her fellow pups. 

  • Marmalade — From Double J Dog Ranch in Hauser, ID. A Border Collie/Australian Cattle Dog, Marmalade has sight and hearing impairments. Despite falling and breaking her jaw, she's an assured and caring canine compadre. 

  • Stardust — From Danbury Animal Welfare Society in Bethel, CT. Stardust has one eye, but that doesn't stop her from playing fetch or being one of the sweetest puppers around.

Can you adopt the dogs at the Puppy Bowl 2023?

Yes, all dogs featured at the Puppy Bowl are adoptable. In fact, the Puppy Bowl has a 100% adoption rate for its competitors! However, the chances are you won't be able to adopt any of the puppy athletes, as the show is filmed in the fall. This means all dogs featured have already been adopted. 

While it's too late to adopt any of the dogs featured in Puppy Bowl 2023, many dogs are still out there searching for their "furever" homes. Check out this list of rescues and shelters that participated in the Puppy Bowl 2023 if you're looking to adopt a fur-baby:

And the winners are...

Team Fluff wins the “Lombarky” Trophy 87-83!!

Most Valuable Pup (MVP): Pickle the Pomeranian took home the MVP award, scoring two touchdowns, including the first in the game!

Drive of the Day: Pascal the American Pit Bull/Boxer won the Drive of the Day for his double reverse play, running 99 yards for a touchdown!

Most Pupular Pup: Moocow the Shih Tzu is voted Most Pupular Pup! Hailing from Smyrna, GA, Moocow edged out fellow Georgia native Mykonos the Bulldog by charming pet parents nationwide with doe eyes and his pint-sized stature.

Underdog Award: Moocow the Shih Tzu also wins the Underdog Award! Moocow made great furiends with the ref but needed lots of encouragement to take to the field.

Highlights from Puppy Bowl XIX

2023's Puppy Bowl XIX had viewers on the edge of their seats, becoming the first game ever to go into overtime. Despite some toing-and-froing in the first quarter, defending champs Team Fluff eventually asserted their dominance, taking a 14-point lead into halftime.

But Team Ruff wasn't going to lie down easily, coming from behind to score 31 points without reply, tying the game at 73-73! The final quarter finished in typically chaotic fashion, with the Puppy Bowl's first-ever double touchdown!

In overtime, Vivienne, a bulldog mix from Colorado, scored the winning touchdown to send Team Ruff home with their tucked firmly between their legs.

One of the best plays in the Puppy Bowl XIX includes Team Fluff's Pickle the Pomeranian running rings around opponent Emma to score a high-energy touchdown. And who could forget Pascal the American Pit Bull/Boxer's 99-yard reverse play touchdown?

To close the game, "Ruferee" Dan Schachner presented Team Fluff's captain, Majesty the purebred Corgi, with the coveted "Lombarky” Trophy. The Kitten Halftime Show was another must-see, with world-famous feline singer, "Furry-anna," performing as a special guest.

What? The Puppy Bowl is over?

"Unfurtunately," that wraps up the Puppy Bowl for 2023. But don't fret — the Puppy Bowl XX returns on February 11, 2024! The Puppy Bowl XX is set to top Puppy Bowl XIX, but it'll have its work cut out to be as nail-biting.

Will Team Fluff be able to defend their title for the second year running? Check out our guide to the Puppy Bowl 2024 for all the latest news, including each team's starting line-ups!

Follow along on social media for Puppy Bowl updates from Wag! and Animal Planet!

Comments (3)



My family watches puppy bowl every year with our 9 cats



My Daughter and I watch Every Year. We love what the Puppy Bowl is all about & Pray all fur babies get adopted. We are hosting puppy bowl @ our house this year with our fur babies & their Cousins We Adopted in Florida Pointer Rescue We ♥️ Our Girls
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