2021 National Dog Show: How to Watch the Thanksgiving Tradition
Family is great, the food is usually delicious, and football is football, but easily one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the National Dog Show presented by Purina.
As usual, the two-hour broadcast will again grace your television screens at noon on NBC right after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Then it's time to cheer on your favorite breed and, eventually, grumble when the judge eventually picks a different dog.
Here's all you need to know about how to watch the National Dog Show before Thanksgiving Day:
How Can I Watch the National Dog Show?
The show was held Nov. 20–21 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. If you're not in the area, the show's Thanksgiving (Nov. 25) broadcast on NBC will start at noon in all time zones. That's when you'll hear the usual voices of commentators Mary Carillo, David Frei, and John O'Hurley.
Cord-cutters can stream the show on NBSsports.com or via the NBC Sports app at noon eastern time, assuming they have login credentials from a television provider. The app is available on mobile phones and streaming devices from Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon.
Last year, some 25 million people watched across the country.
The younger dog show fans can stream the kid-friendly National Dog Show Junior on streaming platform Peacock at 2 p.m. eastern time. The program, hosted by American Ninja Warrior commentator Matt Iseman, Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, and kid reporter Anna Laible, will offer an educational spin on the show.
How Are Dogs Judged in the National Dog Show?
For newcomers, the first thing you should know is the dogs only kinda-sorta compete against each other. It's actually a question of which dogs best adhere to their breeds' written standards, according to the judges. Here's the process:
- Eligibility: The National Dog Show is an open show for all breeds as long as the dog is registered with the American Kennel Club. There are 209 registered AKC breeds.
- Best of breed: The pups first gather in groups featuring all the dogs at the show of the same breed. The dog who's judged as a closest representation of the standards moves on to the group stage. (For example, the best golden retriever of the bunch moves on to the Sporting Group.)
- First in Group: The breed winners move on to one of seven groups: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding. Judges again evaluate the dogs on how best they match their breeds' standards. The dogs who win the groups move on to the Best in Show ring. (Click here to find your favorite breed's group.)
- Best in Show: The final showdown features the seven group winners, and the best of the best are again judged against their breed's standards. The judge then picks a Best in Show winner. Last year, the top dog beat out 537 others.
Are There Any New National Dog Show Breeds This Year?
Just one: the Biewer terrier (pronounced like "beaver"), which only earned American Kennel Club recognition earlier this year, under two months after the 2020 National Dog Show.
Who Was the National Dog Show 2020 Winner?
Claire the Scottish deerhound! The then-3 year old was described as a "picture of elegance" with "impeccable movement" by the Best in Show judge. She's part of an impressive line of show dogs, including her grandmother, Hickory, who won Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2011.
It's hard to beat that pedigree. You can find out who wins this year on dailypaws.com come Thanksgiving.