By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 02/06/2023, edited: 02/13/2023
On February 12, the world of fur-babies and football collide at the Puppy Bowl. If you're crazy about canines or just looking to kill some time before the Eagles take on the Chiefs, the Puppy Bowl is an adorable way to start your Super Bowl Sunday.
But what's the Puppy Bowl all about? And how can you watch and celebrate this unique mix of pups and pigskins? Here's the lowdown on 2023's Puppy Bowl XIX.
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 half-time show, as well as a host of hamsters, rabbits, chickens, and even penguins.
This year, Wisdom Panel™ is providing 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.
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 will participate.
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.
Where to watch Puppy Bowl 2023: discovery+ or Animal Planet
Pre-show: 1 PM Eastern/10 AM Pacific on Sunday, February 12, 2023
Puppy Bowl kickoff: 2 PM Eastern/11 AM Pacific on Sunday, February 12, 2023
With Super Bowl LVII commencing at 6:30 PM Eastern/3:30 PM Pacific, the Puppy Bowl is the "pawfect" show to watch in the run-up to one of the year's biggest sporting events.
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.
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.
During the show, the Puppy Bowl will introduce viewers to 11 special-needs puppies searching for their "furever" homes. They'll also be three adoptable kittens from the Kitty Half-Time Show!
You can find a list of adoptable pups from the Puppy Bowl through discovery+. You can also reach out to some of these "furrific" rescues and shelters featured on the show to see the puppers available for adoption.
Want to celebrate the Big Game with your favorite two- and four-legged football fanatics? Here are a few Puppy Bowl ideas to inspire you and your crew!
Before the Puppy Bowl starts, why not vote for your favorite fur-baby? The Pupularity Playoffs are back this year, with 16 pups competing to be crowned the cutest canines. Voting is already underway, with only 4 pups remaining in the competition: Moocow, Josh Allenhound, Mykonos, and Espresso. The winner will be announced on Super Bowl Sunday.
One of the easiest ways to celebrate the Puppy Bowl 2023 is to make a part of your Super Bowl party. Get the party started early by watching the 3-hour Puppy Bowl before the main event. Set out a midday dog-themed buffet, and even grab your canine compadre some snacks to celebrate. You could even bake your dog some homemade dog treats.
Consider hosting your own Puppy Bowl if you have friends with fur-babies or several doggos of your own. Set up a few end zones in your yard, grab some of your best squeaky toys, and keep track of puppy touchdowns. The MVP gets a special treat for being the top dog! A Puppy Bowl is a great way for your dog to make new friends and get some much-needed exercise.
Related: How to Train Your Dog to Play Football
Donate to one of the shelters or rescues featured on the Puppy Bowl. Making a donation celebrates what the Puppy Bowl is all about and helps adorable doggos in need. If a small percentage of the millions of viewers who tune into the Puppy Bowl annually made a small donation to a shelter or rescue, it would change the lives of countless canines and felines.
Related: 9 Ways to Help Your Local Animal Shelter
The best way to support and celebrate the Puppy Bowl is to ask about adopting one of the pups featured on the show. However, there's a good chance all pups featured have already found their forever homes, thanks to the Puppy Bowl's flawless adoption rate. You can always contact one of the shelters in the show or go to your local shelter/rescue and adopt a doggo in need instead. Remember: adopt, don't shop!
Related: Where Should You Go to Adopt a Dog?
Follow all the big plays and highlights of Puppy Bowl XIX during the game with Wag!'s official commentators Frank the Golden and Ferris the Pom on Twitter!
© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
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© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.
Download the Wag! app