How to Watch the 2022 National Dog Show

by Hannah Roundy

Dog lovers can look forward to more than just turkey and pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving!

Looking for some feel-good entertainment that doesn't involve religion or politics? Tune into the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show for a crowd-pleasing program for everyone. 

When is the 2022 Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show?

Thanksgiving is always celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, so it falls on November 24th this year. You can tune into the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show on NBC at 12 pm (in all US time zones). It airs right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. You can usually find coverage of the competition on streaming services like YouTube TV, Hulu and Peacock, as well. 

The Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show is pre-taped on November 19-20 so the competing dogs and their families can celebrate Thanksgiving at home. The live show takes place in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania and is open to the public! If you’d like the attend the live show, you can find out more information and purchase tickets on the National Dog Show website. 

History of the Thanksgiving Day Dog Show

The National Dog Show was founded and historically hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia – a group that actually predates the American Kennel Club (AKC). The first show was back in 1879 and was formerly titled The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show. 

The Thanksgiving Day dog show is one of the last remaining benched dog competitions. Benched dog shows require all participating dogs to sit on their assigned benches on the show floor when they aren’t actively competing. It makes for easier accessibility and interaction during the competition – but it’s also a visual display of the dog’s discipline. 

Since 2002, the infamous Thanksgiving Day dog show has been televised by NBC. It’s the most widely-viewed dog show in America with an audience of nearly 20 million people. The show is typically hosted by actor John O’Hurley and AKC judge David Frei. 

What type of dogs can compete in the National Dog Show?

There are a few rules for dogs to be eligible to compete in the National Dog Show. First, only purebred pups who belong to one of the 205 breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club are eligible. 

Thousands of dogs participate in the qualifying competitions leading up to the National Dog Show, but only seven dogs make the cut. These dogs represent the seven breed groups identified by the American Kennel Club: the Terrier Group, Toy Group, Working Group, Sporting Group, Hound Group, Non-Sporting Group, and Herding Group

Terrier Group
All but two terrier breeds originate from the British Isles. They were originally bred to hunt vermin and protect their family’s home. Terriers are known to have high-energy levels, stubborn temperaments and an often wiry coat. 

Toy Group
These tiny pups were bred solely to provide companionship to humans. They are called “toy” dogs because they are so small, a child’s toy might even outweigh them. Though they are small, toy group breeds are very smart and easily adapt to different lifestyles. Breeds liek Chihuahuas and Malteses belong to the toy group. 

Working Group
Large, athletic dogs such as Great Danes and Saint Bernards belong to the working group. These pups are protective, strong and intelligent. Their original purpose was to pull sleds, guard property and help with farmwork. Working dogs are just as docile and lovable as they are large. 

Sporting Group
This group is made of dogs bred for hunting game, working in water, and retrieving quarry. Breeds in the sporting group like Golden Retrievers or Cocker Spaniels are naturally energetic and alert. They have superior instincts outdoors and in water due to their hunting abilities. 

Hound Group
Dogs belonging to the hound group were also bred for hunting. They have a heightened sense of sight and smell to track down their prey and a booming howl to signal what they’ve found. Bloodhounds and Beagles belong to the hound group. 

Non-Sporting Group
The name might sound obvious, but non-sporting group dogs are also the breeds that also don’t belong to the hound, herding, working, toy or terrier groups. It’s a “leftover” group ranging from Bulldogs to Poodles. There is no key defining characteristic for these pups and they originate from various backgrounds. 

Herding Group
Pups that have a gift for controlling the movement of other animals and working on farms belong to the herding group. It’s easy to recognize herding dogs as they often have “shepherd” or “sheepdog” in their breed name. Herding breeds like German Shepherds have also proven useful in protection and rescue work. 

How can a dog win Best in Show?

The pups who want to make it to the Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show have to first compete with other dogs of their breed. If they win their breed competition, they are awarded Best of Breed. 

The Best of Breed winners compete again with all the breeds that make up their group. Whoever comes out top dog in the group is awarded First in Group. The seven dogs that are the First in Group end up competing for Best in Show at the National Dog Show. 

At dog shows, the pups are judged against their breed standards. The American Kennel Club has standards for each breed that includes their individual physical characteristics, personality, and skills. It’s not only about being a good dog, but each dog should also exemplify the standards of their breed. The winning dog for each breed and group is deemed to be the “picture-perfect” version of their category.

The winner of the National Dog Show is awarded Best in Show – the most prestigious honor in the dog show community. With the Best in Show title comes $20,000 in prize money, as well. 

A Scottish Deerhound named Claire took home the title of Best in Show at the 2021 Thanksgiving Day National Dog Show. Claire also won Best in Show in 2020 – making her the first dog in 20 years to win two years in a row. Let's see who will take home the prize at this year's show! 

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