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Thanksgiving is a day for tradition. Since 2002, the National Dog Show has joined the likes of turkey and football to become a cherished part of the holiday. Airing from 12PM to 2PM EST, the event serves as an exciting (and adorable) transition between the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the afternoon’s NFL action.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation or postponement of countless events, but, thankfully, the National Dog Show isn’t one of them. Though Thanksgiving gatherings may be a little smaller this year, dog lovers can still tune in to watch their favorite breeds compete for the title of Best in Show.
COVID-19 has totally transformed the world of competitive sports. The MLB, NBA, and NHL were only able to complete their seasons by limiting (or eliminating) in-person attendance and introducing new processes for COVID-19 testing, temperature checks, and social distancing.
The Philadelphia Kennel Club will enforce similar precautions at this year’s National Dog Show. Both handlers and judges will be masked and the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center won’t be filled with dog-loving spectators. Typical iterations of the National Dog Show attract crowds of 15,000 and the festivities usually include a number of charity events. Don’t worry, this year’s competitors will still have quite the audience. Around 20 million fans tune in from their homes each year and NBC hopes for a record-breaking audience this Thanksgiving.
New Level of Competition
Under normal circumstances, the National Dog Show welcomes nearly 2,000 four-legged competitors. In keeping with health and safety guidelines, however, this year’s field has been narrowed to just around 550. Though there’ll be fewer dogs trotting around the Expo Center, everyone watching at home can expect an even higher level of competition than in years past. That’s because each dog they’ll see is a previous champion. An all-champion lineup could make the 19th-annual National Dog Show the most exciting one yet.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognizes nearly 200 breeds and this year they invited three new pups to join their ranks:
- The Barbet is a strong, sturdy water dog that was first developed in 16th-century France. Barbets are known for their affectionate, friendly nature and distinct, curly coat. The breed will compete in the Sporting Group at this year’s event.
- The Dogo Argentino may look intimidating, but the “Argentinian Mastiff” is regarded as a cheerful and protective companion. To the untrained eye, a Dogo Argentino may resemble a large, white pit bull. The breed will compete in the Working Group at this year’s event.
- The Belgian Laekenois is one of the four types of Belgian shepherd dogs. Intelligent and active, the breed was used as a messenger during the World Wars. Though NBC will introduce the Belgian Laekenois to viewers, the breed will not compete in this year’s competition.
Same National Dog Show
Not everything is changing at this year’s National Dog Show. David Frei and John O’Hurley may be co-hosting from the comfort of their homes, but they’ll offer the same mix of laughs and insight that viewers expect. Check out our interview with the National Dog Show hosts to learn more about how they’re getting ready for this semi-remote ceremony.
There won’t be adoring fans in the stands, but the competitors will be just as impressive as always. At-home viewers can count on the same National Dog Show they’ve come to love, offering two hours of entertainment and excitement for the whole family.