|Genre||Homage to Sports television|
|Narrated by||Harry Kalas (2005–2009)
Jeff Bordner (2010–2011)
Scott Graham (2012–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||9|
|Executive producer(s)||Melinda Toporoff|
|Running time||180 minutes
120 as of Puppy Bowl V (including commercials)
|Original channel||Animal Planet|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV
|Original run||February 6, 2005– present|
|Related shows||Puppy Games|
The Puppy Bowl is an annual television program on Animal Planet that mimics an American football bowl game similar to the Super Bowl, using puppies. Shown each year on Super Bowl Sunday, the show consists of footage of a batch of puppies at play inside a model stadium, with commentary on their actions. The first Puppy Bowl was shown on February 6, 2005. The puppies featured in the Puppy Bowl are from shelters, and the show contains information on how viewers can adopt rescued puppies and help their local shelter.
A veterinarian is on site during the production of Puppy Bowl to ensure animal safety and well-being, and to administer any veterinary medical care which might be needed. Representatives from American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, as well as the shelters which lend their animals to the production, are also on site as observers to ensure animal welfare standards are maintained. In 2012, an American Humane Association representative was always on-site to ensure that puppies did not become too aggressive and injure one another.
According to its associate producer, the production takes about 12 hours each day. In 2007, shooting occurred over three days. In 2010, the veterinarian on site said this was spread over three days. Puppies are given a rest period every 30 minutes, due to the heat from the lights. Forty-six puppies were used in 2008, and about 60 puppies in 2010. The 2011 production occurred in the New York City area in the fall of 2010, using 47 puppies, while the 2012 show featured 58 puppies. The 2013 show (filmed at a television studio in west midtown in Manhattan) featured 63 puppies, with 10 on the "field" at one time. Filming occurred over two days.
Puppy Bowl is filmed inside a miniature "stadium" that is 19 feet (5.8 m) long by 10 feet (3.0 m) wide. The show focuses on young puppies, and there is a height and weight limit due to the size limitations of the play area. The various cameras used to tape the show generated about 50 hours of footage in 2011, but more than 90 hours in 2012 (for the 2013 airing). Some cameras are placed inside toys, to give a puppy's-eye view of the action. Roughly 30 staff members are needed to produce the show.
The first five Puppy Bowls were narrated by Harry Kalas, a narrator for NFL Films and longtime play-by-play voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. After Kalas's death, the 2010 edition of the Puppy Bowl was dedicated to him and Jeff Bordner took over his announcing duties. The current Puppy Bowl announcer is Scott Graham, who took over Kalas' NFL Films duties after his death.
The Puppy Bowl consists of a number of puppies playing in a model stadium ("Animal Planet Stadium") with no audience (but with canned audience cheering), minimal commentary, and instant replay shots. A "bowl cam" provides shots upwards through the transparent bottom of a special water bowl built into the stadium floor, with a wide-angle lens that allows viewers to watch the puppies drink water (and walk through it) up close. The first Puppy Bowl featured a "ball cam," a camera mounted on an radio-controlled car chassis with a football skin covering the camera that drove among the puppies on the field near the one-hour mark. Some puppies seemed scared of it, while others appeared curious and investigated it. The puppies are given a wide variety of chew-toys and bones to play with, and they are free to tackle, bite, and do as they wish. Jazz music is added to the clips in post-production.
A human "referee" watches over the "action on the field." In the first few years of Puppy Bowl, this was a crew member randomly selected each year. Beginning in 2008, it was Animal Planet associate producer Andrew Schechter. For the 2012 Puppy Bowl, Schechter was replaced by SportsNet New York and Beer Money! host Dan Schachner. Football terminology is often used by the announcer and referee to illustrate the puppies' behavior and actions. When a puppy drags one of the football-shaped toys into the end zone, a "puppy touchdown" is declared. "Penalties" are issued for puppies relieving themselves on the field. Timeouts are called if the water bowl needs to be refilled, or if the puppies begin to fight (a behavior called "unnecessary rrruff-ness"). In Puppy Bowl VI, substitutions were made whenever a puppy fell asleep on the field. Puppy Bowl III, V, VI, VII and VIII also featured a tailgate party outside the stadium with several other dogs watching the event on televisions with cuts to their reactions throughout.
The running time of Puppy Bowls I through IV was 180 minutes (including commercials). The running time of Puppy Bowl V was decreased to 120 minutes (including commercials). Jessie Dinh, producer at Discovery Studios, explained the reason for the decrease: "We only did two hours this year so that we had the opportunity to include some other fun elements."
Kitty Half-Time Show
Starting with Puppy Bowl II, at the 1 hour, 15 minute mark, the puppies leave the field and a large scratching post is brought out with a wide variety of kittens for the Kitty Half-Time Show. This features kittens playing for 30 minutes with lights, laser pens, balls of yarn, a scratching post, flint sweepers, and a wide variety of other toys. The grand finale of the Puppy Bowl II Half-Time Show was a confetti blast that sent most of the cats running away scared. Puppy Bowl III did not show the cats' departure from the field. The halftime show of Puppy Bowl IV in 2008 was only 15 minutes in length. In 2012, Animal Planet said that 20 kittens would be part of the Kitty Half-Time Show. This number increased to 21 for the 2013 airing. All the kittens are also animals from shelters, and are adoptable.
The "stadium" is outfitted with a variety of scratching posts and toys that move to interest the kittens and encourage them to move about. This does not usually work, however, and catnip is distributed over the set to help the kittens be more active and interested in their surroundings.
In 2009, a model blimp (supposedly floating over the Puppy Bowl) was added. The "blimp" mimics the appearance of the Goodyear Blimp over many outdoor football events. Shots of the puppies at play were green-screened into the windows to make it appear as if the "blimp" was actually hovering over the field. Inside the model of the blimp's control room, hamsters are allowed to play (as if they were the crew of the blimp). The blimp returned in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Beginning in 2010, "bunny cheerleaders" (rabbits) were shown, as if these animals were on the sidelines. In 2011, the "bunny cheerleaders" were replaced by "chicken cheerleaders" (hens and roosters). The bunnies and chickens were replaced by five pigs in a "Piggy Pep Squad" in 2012. Hedgehog Cheerleaders were introduced for 2013.
Also beginning in 2010, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) began sponsoring the Puppy Bowl. A veterinarian was shown giving each puppy a physical prior to participation, provided care to any animal which might appear injured, and provided tips to viewers about proper animal care. Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro, Director of Emergency Services at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Denver, Colorado, provided the official on-camera care for the puppies and other animals. AAHA renewed its sponsorship for 2011 and provided veterinary services on-site.
A new element for 2011 was a parody of the popular "Kiss Cam" used at sporting events. The "Kiss Cam" returned in 2012.  2013 used the Kiss Cam as well. 2011 also marked the first year "celebrity guests" were shown as audience members, which were the chihuahuas from Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and in 2012 three Golden Retriever puppies portrayed characters from the new Disney Air Buddies movie, Treasure Buddies.
Two other new elements were added in 2012 as well. A cockatiel named "Meep" "tweeted" about the game from the sidelines (using the Twitter social media network). Jill Rappaport, a TV reporter and animal advocate, provided color commentary.
The hamsters in the blimp and Meep the "tweeting" cockatiel were retained for the 2013 show, but the piglet cheerleaders were replaced by baby hedgehogs in tutus. Owners of hedgehogs volunteered the use of their animals for the show. The tutus, however, did not stay on the animals. A new "Puppy Cam" (a miniature wide camera attached to a puppy's collar) was added in place of the "Kiss Cam", to provide viewers with a puppy's-eye-view of the action. A new feature in the 2013 game is the "Cute Cam," the slow-mo camera. Additionally, the human "stars" of Animal Planet's reality TV shows were added in 2013 as commentators. Another addition is a "special puppy hot tub" (a large pan of water) in which puppies will relax prior to or after their time on the field.
Puppy Bowl aired on February 6, 2005. Puppy Bowl II averaged 690,000 viewers for its broadcast on February 5, 2006 (a 230 percent increase over Puppy Bowl I). Five million people in total watched Puppy Bowl II over its three airings. Puppy Bowl III, which aired on February 4, 2007, increased that number by 120 percent to 7.5 million viewers, for a total increase of 360 percent from its first airing in 2005. Puppy Bowl IV, which aired on Animal Planet on February 3, 2008, had more than 8 million viewers for all its broadcasts. It was also the first Puppy Bowl broadcast in high definition. Puppy Bowl V aired on February 1, 2009. Puppy Bowl VI aired on February 7, 2010, and a record 1.1 million viewers watched the first broadcast alone. Puppy Bowl VII aired on February 6, 2011 with a total of 9.2 million viewers over the twelve hours it was aired. The actual premiere drew 1.7 million viewers, up 60 percent from last year. Puppy Bowl VII in 2011 had a total 9.2 million estimated viewers for all airings. Puppy Bowl VIII aired on February 5, 2012. This airing was the second most-watched social television program in America, with more than 10 million viewers over five airings. This included an increase of 17 percent in ratings in its target demographic group (adults age 25-to-54). More than 200,000 Puppy Bowl-related tweets were made on that day. Puppy Bowl IX aired on February 3, 2013.
Advertising revenue for the 2013 show is up 19 percent over 2012, and has drawn a number of new advertisers. For the first time, Animal Planet has allowed commercial branding of its "stadium." It will be referred to throughout the program as the "Geico Puppy Bowl Stadium".
A spinoff of the Puppy Bowl, known as Puppy Games, aired opposite NBC's primetime broadcast of the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics on August 8, 2008. The Puppy Games included swimming, gymnastics, boxing, and soccer, and kittens were used for the "opening ceremony." John Ramey and Mary Beth Smith, respectively, served as the play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the event.
List of Puppy Bowl MVPs
|Puppy Bowl I||Max|
|Puppy Bowl II||Cotton|
|Puppy Bowl III||Bomber|
|Puppy Bowl IV||Abigail|
|Puppy Bowl V||Matilda|
|Puppy Bowl VI||Jake|
|Puppy Bowl VII||Thor|
|Puppy Bowl VIII||Fumble|
|Puppy Bowl IX||Marta|
- The Puppy Channel, a defunct cable network which broadcast only footage of puppies.
- "Just Fine as Tackles, but They Can't Pass," New York Times, February 2, 2008.
- "Puppy Bowl: Where Touchdowns Are Scored On All Fours," CBS News, February 4, 2011.
- "The Life of a "Puppy Bowl" Referee," Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2010.
- "Colbert to Auction Doctored Portrait," Associated Press, February 5, 2011.
- "The Puppy Bowl: Behind the Scenes of TV's Cutest Show." Washington Post. January 28, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-28.
- "Local Veterinarian Enjoys Role in Puppy Bowl VI," KUSA-TV, February 8, 2010.
- Marantz, Andrew. "Puppies!" The New Yorker. January 28, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-22.
- "Puppy Bowl 2012: Kittens, Pigs And Birds Play Supporting Roles." HuffingtonPost.com. January 27, 2012. Accessed 2012-01-29.
- "Harry Kalas, 73; Was Voice of the Phillies Since 1971," Boston Globe, April 17, 2009.
- "Animal Planet's PUPPY BOWL VIII to Premiere 2/5." Broadway World. January 5, 2012.
- "Puppy Bowl V," Washington Post, January 30, 2009.
- "Marketers Gather Round Dog Bowl," Advertising Age, February 4, 2010.
- "AAHA Conference Spans Spectrum From Puppy Bowl to 9/11," Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, May 15, 2010.
- "AAHA Readies for Consumer Advertising Push on Animal Planet in 2010," DVM Newsmagazine, October 25, 2009.
- "'Tail' Gate Party," Denver Post, January 31, 2010.
- "Puppy Bowl Now Mastiff-Sized." AdWeek. January 22, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-22.
- Edel, Ray. "Puppy Bowl Will Be Back for Another Year." NorthJersey.com. January 14, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-22.
- Chandler, Rick. "Hedging a Super Bowl Bet Is One Thing, But What About Hedgehog Cheerleaders?" Lake Tahoe Action. January 17, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-22.
- "Puppy Bowl IV Draws Over 8 Million Dogged Fans," Multichannel News, February 5, 2008.
- "Puppy Bowl Draws 9.2 Million Viewers," Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2011.
- Greenberg, Julia. "Puppy Bowl 2012: Starting Line-up Announced, Pictures Released." International Business Tribune. January 23, 2012.
- Official website
- Puppy Bowl II at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl III at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl IV at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl V at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl VII at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl VIII at the Internet Movie Database
- Puppy Bowl IX at the Internet Movie Database