The Puppy Bowl

Move aside Super Bowl LII, make way for Puppy Bowl XIV. While the Philadelphia Eagles face the New England Patriots on Sunday, February 4th, 2018, there will be another, much cuter game going on as well: The Puppy Bowl. On this super Sunday, not only will the Eagles play the Patriots, Team Ruff will go head to head with Team Fluff for the latest Puppy Bowl.

So how did this amazingly adorable tradition of dogs playing football begin? It all started in 2005 with a simple concept: it was a joke. Margo Kent, who is the executive producer, said the idea came from a simple thought, “How do you counter the Super Bowl? Let’s just put a box of puppies up there and call it a day.” While it started off as a joke and it was an idea just for fun, people realized that this idea was actually proven to be successful. The first year brought in 638,000 viewers when a puppy named Riley got the first penalty of “Unsportsmanlike Delay of Game” when he peed on the field. Last year, the Puppy Bowl raked in about 2.5 million views and it big business for the Animal Planet network, who runs the Bowl.  This success of the Puppy Bowl then led to many other animal copycats, like the Kitten Bowl and the Fish Bowl.

The basic premise of the Puppy Bowl has remained more or less the same since the beginning but the logistical complexity has grown many times over throughout the years. Today, they are teams and rules, as well as a rotating cast of guest animal cheerleaders like an inter-species duckling-bunny-piglet squad. Also this year, there is a new-and-improved bone-shaped stadium that has video cameras to catch every little detail.

The Puppy Bowl is planned to a tee. The draft for the Bowl begins in June and the first step is creating a “massive casting blast” to shelters across the country asking for headshots from eligible dogs, aged 12-22 weeks. The dogs also must have resumes and then the casting department begin the hard work of selecting the puppies for the bowl. The contestants (the dogs) are chosen to reflect a wide range of “sizes, of fluffiness, of breed mixes.” At the end, they represent 48 shelters, from 26 states and even Mexico. Mango, a Staffordshire-Chihuahua mix, is the Bowl’s first international competitor hailing from Mexico.

One of the main reasons that the Puppy Bowl is so popular is because you are allowed to adopt all of the dogs in the bowl. But, if you are watching the game and try to adopt one, they are probably already taken. By the end of game in February, almost all of the dogs have been adopted, many by the Puppy Bowl employees. However, the Puppy Bowl gives all of the information about the shelters and where you can adopt more dogs that are actually available. The Puppy Bowl is a great way for dogs to get adopted and to advertise about shelter dogs.

Here are some facts about the Puppy Bowl:

  • Game day actually occurs in October, not February.
    • The game actually is shot over the course of two days in October. The reason for this is because it takes three months of preparation because it’s a full two days of shooting with 21 cameras on the field, which makes for a lot of footage to edit.
  • There is a great amount of peanut butter used during production.
    • There are a lot of close-up images of the dogs and peanut butter is used so that the they can catch the dogs looking at the camera. The crew also smears the dogs’ chew toys with peanut butter to attract the canines.
  • The cheerleaders are always changing.
    • In 2010, there was a team of bunny cheerleaders. In 2011, there were chicken cheerleaders. In 2012, there were chicks as the pep squad. In 2013, there were pigs, then the next year there were penguins. In 2017, there was a squad of rescue rabbits and guinea pigs. For the 2018 game, there will be a blend of baby barnyard cheerleaders which will include ducklings, piglets, and baby bunnies.
  • Several special needs puppies compete.
    • Three of the 2017 puppies were actually dogs with disabilities. There was a visually-impaired Husky, a deaf Dalmatian, and a Pomeranian mix with a cleft palate.
  • This year’s Puppy Bowl will feature a rescue sloth.
    • Shirley, the rescue sloth, will be assisting long-time referee, Schacher, on the field. Shirley will help call penalties and celebrate touchdowns.

If you missed the Puppy Bowl, watch it on Animal Planet here!


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