Your Guide to the Puppy Bowl

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Sure, the Super Bowl is fun. There’s the parties, the amazing food, the hilarious commercials, and the game — if you’re into football. If you’re not into football, but love puppies, then the Puppy Bowl might be more your speed! The Puppy Bowl is exactly what it sounds like. A three hour televised and ultra-adorable game where a bunch of cute puppies run around on a model football field.

Here’s your guide to the Puppy Bowl!

History of the Puppy Bowl

The Puppy Bowl takes place on Super Bowl Sunday every year and airs on the Animal Planet. The 2018 Puppy Bowl will be the 14th edition, as the inaugural Puppy Bowl took place in 2005. The idea of the Puppy Bowl was inspired by the Yule Log broadcasts. In order to give employees time off to spend Christmas with their families, television networks would broadcast video of a yule log burning in a fireplace for hours on end. The networks figured that since viewers would be busy spending time with their families during the holidays, it didn’t matter what they broadcasted on their network. However, to the great surprise of the network, people loved the Yule Log broadcast and tuned into see it burn in large numbers.

Since most television sets are tuned to the Super Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday each year, Animal Planet wanted to provide viewers animal-loving viewers with a counterprogramming option. At a brainstorming meeting to devise a programming plan to go against the most-watched television event of the year, one of the employees at Animal Planet jokingly said that they should “point a camera at puppies”. However, that joke would soon be transformed into reality. The network partnered with a local American Humane Association to get some puppy players. To their great surprise, the Puppy Bowl drew a staggering 5.58 million viewers.

The great success of the first Puppy Bowl continues today, as the program is consistently the second-highest-watched program on Super Bowl Sunday.

How to Watch the Puppy Bowl

The 14th Puppy Bowl will air on Animal Planet on February 4th, 2018.

Old clips of previous Puppy Bowls can be found online at Animal Planets website.

Puppy Bowl Format

Unlike the Super Bowl that features iron-clad rules that dictate how the game is played, the Puppy Bowl is very loose. Two teams of puppies are let loose on a faux football field that is littered with chew toys. Puppies score touchdowns by carrying a chew toy into the end zone. There is a referee watching over the action, who will occasionally call penalties on puppies for things like “pass inter-fur-ence” and “unnecessary ruffness,” as well as more, er, dog-specific calls like “premature watering of the field.”  

The puppy players have to meet a few requirements to play in the Puppy Bowl. They must all be within 12 and 21 weeks of age, well-socialized, and vaccinated. They must also meet certain height and weight restrictions due to the size of the stadium they play in. One of the best parts of the Puppy Bowl is that all of the pups that play in the game come from animal shelters. All the dogs are either adopted before the game is played or after, and the event creates tremendous awareness for adopting dogs.

As the Puppy Bowl has grown in popularity they’ve added some new features to spice up the game. While the Super Bowl boasts massive musical acts during their halftime show such as Beyonce and Bruno Mars, the Puppy Bowl showcases features kittens! During the kitten halftime show, the field is redone to features a bunch of cat toys and a fake stage. Dozens of little furry kittens run around and entertain cat lovers as the puppy players get a break to lap up some water. Other animals have made appearance in the Puppy Bowl over the years, including birds, pigs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and chickens.

Puppy Adoption

The Puppy Bowl is highly entertaining program for animal lovers, but is also an excellent reminder of how important animal adoption is. Unfortunately, shelters throughout the country are full of animals who desperately need a home. Want to lend a happy hand? There are plenty of ways that animal lovers can help out their local shelter. You can do anything from donate towels and toys, to volunteer to take the dogs for walks and hang out and play with the cats. Shelters are often understaffed and underfunded, and will greatly appreciate anything you can do to assist them in taking care of the animals.

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