Just hours before the Chiefs take the Eagles in this year’s Super Bowl, dozens of adoptable pets will face off in their own high-stakes competition.
That’s right: It’s time for Puppy Bowl XIX.
The annual televised event, produced by Animal Planet, will air on Sunday afternoon before the big game. Here’s everything you need to know about the pup-ular tournament.
How the game works
Like the Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl will also feature two teams: Team Ruff (sporting orange bandanas) and Team Fluff (wearing blue). The canine athletes will face off for the Chewy “Lombarky” trophy.
And if you can’t tell the difference between a touchdown and a field goal, don’t worry. The rules of the Puppy Bowl are a lot simpler than football. The pups will roam a mini football stadium decked out with chew toys and try to get a ball into one of two end zones.
Dan Schachner will serve as the game’s “ruff-eree” for the 12th year and sportscasters Taylor Rooks and Steve Levy will provide expert commentary on the puppies’ valiant efforts. Other beloved highlights of the game include the water bowl cam and the Pedigree puppy kiss cam.
The game helps rescue pups find ‘furever’ homes
In addition to serving as adorable entertainment, the game also has a higher purpose. Every furry athlete is a rescue dog, and some are still waiting to be adopted from a shelter or foster home. The competition helps draw much-needed attention to the pups and the shelters that take care of them.
“We really couldn’t ask for a better platform,” Chrissy Beckles, founder and president of The Sato Project, a non-profit that rescues abused and abandoned dogs in Puerto Rico and rehomes them on the US mainland, previously told CNN. “I can’t think of a single negative for this – only that it’s only once a year.”
Rescue groups spend months making sure the dogs are socialized and acclimated to the bright lights and loud noises they encounter while filming.
Interested adopters can reach out to the shelter directly via Animal Planet’s website. If a certain player catches your eye, however, keep in mind they might have already been adopted. The Puppy Bowl is pretaped, so some of the dogs have already been placed with families. But others still need homes. And even if the pup you like has been adopted, the shelter might be able to recommend another dog for your home.
Animal Planet says every puppy and kitten ever featured on prior Puppy Bowls has found a home since the first show in 2005.
Dozens of fur babies will compete
This year, a total of 122 puppies from 67 shelters and rescue organizations across the United States and the Caribbean will face off in the Puppy Bowl. Pictures of each athlete are listed on Animal Planet’s website, with details about their breed, background, and the shelter where they live.
This is the first time a Native American animal rescue organization has been represented at the Puppy Bowl, according to a news release from Warner Bros. Discovery. And it’s the first time a pup from Dominica, the West Indies has competed in the epic showdown.
The game will also feature eleven dogs with special needs, including Julius, a hearing-impaired Dalmatian, and Marmalade, a sight- and hearing-impaired border collie/Australian cattle dog mix, according to the news release.
A ‘purrfect’ halftime show
If you’re more of a cat person, you’ll want to tune in for the halftime show. Before Rihanna takes the stage for the Super Bowl’s halftime show, adoptable kittens will take to the turf for their own midgame performance.
How to watch the big game
The pup-tastic festivities will kick off with a pregame show airing at 1 p.m. ET on Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and TBS. It’ll also stream on Discovery+ and HBO Max. This pregame portion will feature interviews with coaches and players and details about each pup’s breed mix, according to the news release.
The real game will air from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET, with profiles on the adoptable pets airing in between shots of the game itself.
And no matter which team takes home the trophy, one thing’s for sure: Every pup’s a winner.
Disclosure: Animal Planet and CNN are both owned by Warner Bros. Discovery.
CNN’s Julia M. Chan contributed to this report.