By Kim Rain
Published: 01/15/2022, edited: 02/08/2023
In 2022, the football world was getting ready for the biggest showdown in human sports while animal lovers across the world were tuning in for Puppy Bowl XVIII, the biggest sporting event in dogdom! Featuring over 100 contenders from rescues and shelters all over the country, 2022's Puppy Bowl was full of exciting runs, furbulous touchdowns, and cuteness galore!
Did Team Ruff keep the coveted Lombarky Trophy, or did Team Fluff steal the win? Who was crowned MVP? And who got a penalty for illegal bathing? Puppies get ready to rumble!
Back in 2005, Animal Planet sought to fill the dreaded time slot opposite the Super Bowl with a parody of the game featuring something fans of the network would love- you guessed it, puppies! And not just any puppies, but rescue pups from shelters and rescue organizations across the country who were looking for their furever homes. What started as a joke become an instant classic as 5.8 million viewers tuned in to watch puppies cavort around a small football field and wrestle to their heart’s content.
Since that first airing, the show has only gotten bigger, adding a Kitty Half-Time Show, a blimp run by hamsters, and cheerleaders of many kinds, including bunnies, chickens, piglets, hedgehogs, penguins, dwarf goats, and yes, even more puppies. In 2015’s Puppy Bowl XI, pups began to be divided into teams, namely Team Fluff and Team Ruff, identifiable by each puppy’s brightly colored bandana. The Puppy Bowl continues to expand with each game, but how is it played?
Puppies are separated into two teams, Team Fluff and Team Ruff, who compete against each other in a puppy-sized stadium complete with two endzones and water bowls. And by competing, we mean walking, running, wrestling, falling, drinking, playing and even napping. Whenever a pup takes one of the multiple toys from the field into either end-zone, they score points for their team. Touchdowns can be made by individual pups, or multiple pups hanging onto the same toy as seen in 2016’s game where two puppies made a “team touchdown”.
A human referee keeps the peace and makes sure everyone plays fair, but sometimes, things can get ugly. Just like in the human Super Bowl, penalties can be incurred in the Puppy Bowl, such as unnecessary ruffness (a fight!), napping on the field, excessive fertilization pr pancaking (when a tired pup sprawls across the floor).
Some may say the puppies play for the love of the game, but we know they’ve all got eyes on the prize. These barkers are trying to win the Lombarky Trophy, the championship trophy that carries bragging rights until the next Puppy Bowl. So, who were these barkers of 2022?
For Puppy Bowl XVIII, 118 pups had been drafted from 67 different shelters and rescues across 33 states. From tiny Chihuahua mixes to big Labs and Poodles, there were a lot of contenders for 2022's MVP title!
Let’s get to know some of these pups with the teams’ starting line-ups!
Team Ruff Starting Line-up
Team Fluff Starting Line-up
With many more pups on Team Ruff and Team Fluff, it was anybody’s game!
For the 18th year of the Puppy Bowl, these contenders brought it all! And with so much celebrity help, they were sure to play a game to remember! From returning hosts and coaches Martha Stewart for Team Ruff and Snoop Dogg for Team Fluff who kicked off the extravaganza with a call to “Raise the Woof!”, to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and First Pup Commander wishing us a Happy Valentine’s Day, this Puppy Bowl was sure to be one for the ages! Then, Elmo and his rescue pup Tango kicked off the game with a coin toss, and the puppies were off!
Right out of the gate, Wes, a Golden Retriever mix from Team Fluff, was instantly in defense mode, and began barking back the other players. But Surf from Team Ruff, an Australian Shepherd/Poodle mix, responded with a big bark of his own and ran Wes right off the field.
Team Fluff wouldn’t be put down so easily, though, and with Birch hitting the field, the tables would turn. Despite Surf’s “Illegal use of paws to the face,” this little Chihuahua/Toy Fox Terrier mix stood up to the big, fluffy Aussie, and scored the first touchdown of the game!
The puppy cheerleaders went wild!
More notable plays were seen by Team Ruff's Chi/Dachshund Maisie who scored another touchdown in response to the refs overturn of her first in the 2nd quarter, Team Fluff's Kirby pulling off a stunning Double Reverse Touchdown as he ran end to end and cemented his place as a contender for the MVP title in the 3rd, and little Chorizo, an Dachshund/Am. Staff, securing Team Fluff's win with a 100-yard run to a touchdown in the last moments of the game!
Team Fluff takes the win 73 – 69!!
In a pawmazing game, Team Fluff wrangled their championship title back from Team Ruff, and took home the Puppy Bowl XVIII Chewy Lombarky Trophy!
But that’s not all!
Most Valuable Pup (MVP): Kirby won the hearts of fans across the world for his pawrific plays and furtastic timing, as well scoring a double touchdown and double reverse touchdown!
Drive of the Day: Chorizo with his fancy footwork and small size that kept Team Ruff in the lead throughout the first quarter.
Most Pupular Pup: Benny, a Goldendoodle born with fused vertebrae that affected his back legs, proved to be quite a contender while earning a field goal for his team and winning the hearts of millions. What can't this pup on wheels do?
Underdog Award: Mr. Tinkles, a fluffy Shih Tzu/Pekingese who spent his time on the field hiding behind an endzone pylon which earned him a “Wallflowering” penalty. You’ll get em’ next time, Mr. Tinkles!
The pups of the Puppy Bowl aren’t just the cutest ambassadors of American canine sports, they're also ambassadors for homeless animals everywhere and support adopting your next pet. Each and every dog on the field, kitten in the half-time show, animal cheerleader and sideline commentator are rescues who can thank the Puppy Bowl for their new family.
During the filming and lead-up to the Puppy Bowl, Animal Planet pairs with each shelter and rescue organization to ensure that every animal in the Bowl finds their furever home.
Ready to adopt? Check out the Animal Planet and Discover+ adoptable pet link to find pups and kittens featured on the show, or reach out to these pawrific rescues where the players of the 2022 bowl were drafted to find your new best furry pal!
Don't worry! The 2023 Puppy Bowl is just around the corner on February 12th on Animal Planet and discovery+! The next batch of pups for Puppy Bowl 2023 have some big paws to fill, but we’ll be waiting to watch them in all their furry glory.
If you can’t wait for more puppy-on-puppy action, make your own gridiron and invite local athletic pups to compete in your own Puppy Bowl!
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!
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