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The Ultimutt Guide to the Puppy Bowl 2022



If you are one of the millions of fans worldwide who will tune in their TVs on February 13th to the biggest sporting event of 2022, you are in for a real treat! These furry contenders have been training for the game of their life, and there’s nothing that’ll stop these pups from taking their shot at the Lombarky Trophy!

Wait, were you thinking we meant the Super Bowl? Sure, they’ve got a stadium of fans, exciting musical acts for the half-time show, and the funniest commercials around, but the Puppy Bowl, which airs on the same day on Animal Planet, has something they don’t- puppies! Lots and lots of puppies!

This year, Team Ruff defends their title as Puppy Bowl Champions against Team Fluff in the sports battle of the year, and we’ve got all the info to get you ready for game day! Read on to uncover the history of the Puppy Bowl, learn the rules of the game, and discover which four-legged contenders are in this year’s starting line-up. 

pet owner holding an adopted puppy - Ultimate guide to the Puppy Bowl 2022

History of the Puppy Bowl

Back in 2005, Animal Planet sought to fill in 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 featuring kittens playing on the field with laser pens and various toys, a blimp run by hamsters that hovers over the field, 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. We’ve seen puppy “Kiss Cams,” skunk referees, celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Reese Witherspoon and Andy Cohen, and even a fantasy puppy bowl draft to get fans in on the action during certain years. The Puppy Bowl continues to expand with each game, but how is it played?

Rules of the Puppy Bowl

Winning the Puppy Bowl takes more than just tussling on the field with the other pups. Let’s see just how the game is played.


The puppies in two teams, Team Fluff and Team Ruff, compete against each other in a specially crafted 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. Penalties can include things like:

  • Unnecessary ruffness (when a fight breaks out)
  • Paws interference
  • Ruff sides
  • Howling
  • Illegal bathing (playing in the water bowl)
  • Napping on the field
  • Premature watering of the lawn
  • Excessive fertilization
  • Terrorizing the ref
  • Pancaking (when a tired pup sprawls across the floor)

MVP and the Lombarky Trophy

Some may say the puppies play for the love of the game, but we know they’ve all got eyes on the prize. Many barkers will be trying to lead their team to the Lombarky Trophy, the coveted championship trophy that carries bragging rights until the next Puppy Bowl.

Other pooches may be hamming it up to be crowned the MVP, or Most Valuable Puppy of the game! While the referees certainly have their say, fans can also cast a vote for their furvorite players, and together, decide who gets the title at the end of the game. Wondering which top puppy athletes may be in the running for this year’s Puppy Bowl?

Puppy Players of the Puppy Bowl XVIII

For Puppy Bowl XVIII, 118 pups have been drafted from 67 different shelters and rescues across 33 states. From tiny Chihuahua mixes to big Labs and Poodles, there’s a lot of contenders for this year’s MVP title!

Let’s get to know some of these pups with the teams’ starting line-ups!

Team Ruff Starting Line-up

  • Moby – This French Bulldog hailing from Pennsylvania has a lot of bark in that small package!
  • Ridley – Being vision and hearing impaired doesn’t stop this Border Collie from getting all paws in the game.
  • Pongo – With the most eye-catching coat in the game, this Dalmatian from Virginia can sniff out victory!
  • Odell Barkham – There’s a reason he’s named after a famous NFL player, as this Beagle/Chow Chow mix was born to play!
  • Ted D. Bear – Though this Goldendoodle looks like he’s only out for a cuddle, this Florida native has the energy to bring his team to victory.
  • Hoku – As the Puppy Bowl’s first Hawaiian pup, this American Staffordshire Terrier/Catahoula Leopard Dog mix brings her love of adventure to the field in the showdown of the year!
  • Maisie – Having survived Hurricane Ida, this Chihuahua/Dachshund mix brings that survivor mentality to the field to help her team get to the trophy!
  • Surf – Boisterous and ready to play, this fluffy Poodle/American Shepherd mix is sure to keep things interesting on the field.

Team Fluff Starting Line-up

  • Dinozzo – A Basset Hound/Shih Tzu mix, this pup may look a little ruff around the edges, but he’s ready to take it to the endzone for his team!
  • Benny – Born with only two working legs, this Poodle won’t slow down for anyone! Be sure to keep an eye on this underdog!
  • Birch – Being the smallest dog on the field can be intimidating. But this Chihuahua/Toy Fox Terrier mix is ready to show the world how big he dreams.
  • Wasabi – Hailing from the Big Apple, this Chihuahua/Cocker Spaniel mix is ready to bring it!
  • Baxter – This Pug may be small in stature, but this little bruiser is sure to play a strong defense against Team Ruff!
  • Nugget – There’s nothing stopping this Pembroke Welsh Corgi from sweeping the popularity vote! With his tiny stature and pawdorable looks, he’ll be helping bring his team the win!
  • Irwin – Estas listo? Cause here comes our Spanish speaking player from Puerto Rico! This Chihuahua/Pitbull mix may only have three legs, but he’s ready to make history.
  • Kirby – This gorgeous Texan Labrador Retriever is in training to be a service dog, but took some time out to lead his team to the win!

With many more pups on Team Ruff and Team Fluff, it’s anybody’s game! Perhaps Tator Tot, an American Staffy/Pitbull mix will glide across his smaller peers and leap into the endzone. Or Spangles, the flufftastic Chihuahua/Poodle will stun his opponents with his golden good looks on his road to victory. 

Playing for a cause

The pups of the Puppy Bowl aren’t just the cutest ambassadors of American canine sports, they are 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, and 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.

Help support some of the pawsome rescue organizations that contributed puppies to this year’s game, or adopt a new furry best furiend!

How to watch Puppy Bowl 2022

Get your dog beer, popcorn, and treats ready for the cutest, most adorable game of the year! Here’s how to watch Puppy Bowl XVIII!

A lot of top athletes have come out of the Puppy Bowl. Wondering who will come out on top this year? You’ll have to tune in February 13th at 2 P.M. on Animal Planet or Discovery+ to find out!

To help your canine MVP shine, train them like a Puppy Bowl athlete! Book an in-home session with a dog trainer today to get your furry pal on the road to victory!

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