Puppy Bowl

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Puppy Bowl
Puppy Bowl.png
Genre Homage to Sports television
Narrated by Harry Kalas (2005–2009)
Jeff Bordner (2010–2011)
Scott Graham (2012–present)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Melinda Toporoff[1]
Running time 180 minutes (2005–2008)
120 minutes (2008–present)
Original network Animal Planet
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV) (2005-2008)
1080i (16:9 HDTV) (2008-present)
Original release February 6, 2005 (2005-02-06) – present
Related shows Puppy Games
External links
Production website

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.[2] Shown each year on Super Bowl Sunday, the show consists of footage of a batch of puppies at play inside a model stadium,[3] with commentary on their actions. The first Puppy Bowl was shown on February 6, 2005, opposite Super Bowl XXXIX. The puppies featured in the Puppy Bowl are from shelters.[4]


According to the show's producers, the inspiration for Puppy Bowl as Super Bowl counterprogramming came from the popular Yule Log Christmas program.[2][5][6]

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.[4][7] 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.[4][8] In 2012, an American Humane Association representative was always on-site to ensure that puppies did not become too aggressive and injure one another.[7][9]

According to its associate producer, the production takes about 53 hours each day.[4] In 2007, shooting occurred over three days.[2] Roughly 30 staff members were needed in 2008 to produce the show.[2] In 2010, the veterinarian on site said this was spread over three days.[8] Puppies are given a rest period every 30 minutes, due to the heat from the lights.[4] Forty-six puppies were used in 2008,[2] and about 60 puppies in 2010.[8] The 2011 production occurred in the New York City area in the fall of 2010, using 47 puppies,[3][5] while the 2012 show featured 58 puppies.[10] The 2013 show (filmed at a television studio in west midtown in Manhattan) featured 63 puppies, with 10 on the "field" at one time.[9] Filming occurred over two days.[7] The 2014 episode was filmed October 2 to 4, 2013, at the Chelsea Broadcast Center in Manhattan, New York City. A staff of 49 Animal Planet employees and 48 volunteers wrangled the animals, with each puppy assigned a single human overseer.[1] Kittens and cats were filmed the first day, puppies and dogs the second, and other animals on the fourth.[1] A total of 66 puppies were used for the show in 2014,[11] including a basset hound with a genetic defect to its paw.[12] This allowed 12 to 15 puppies to be on the field at a time, and for puppies to be given rest periods every 20 minutes.[1] Another 30 untrained kittens, five penguins, three trained adult cats, eight "tailgate party" dogs, four police dogs, and six hamsters were used in the 2014 show.[1] All the animals except the penguins (which were provided by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium) are adoptable.[1]

Puppy Bowl is filmed inside a miniature "stadium" that is 19 feet (5.8 m) long by 10 feet (3.0 m) wide.[1][2][9] Only puppies between 12 and 21 weeks old are allowed on the show,[12] and there is a height and weight limit due to the size limitations of the play area.[2] Puppies must show that they are well-socialized with people and other puppies, and that they have the full range of vaccinations.[13] A wide variety of toys are placed inside the "stadium". Although there is no minimum or maximum limit on how many toys may be in the stadium, show producers say that toys which make the loudest noise or which are sausage-shaped get the most attention. Toys are usually switched out every 20 minutes, and often more frequently.[1] Peanut butter is smeared around camera lenses to induce the puppies to lick the camera.[12]

The various cameras used to tape the show generated about 50 hours of footage in 2011,[2] but more than 90 hours in 2012 (for the 2013 airing).[9] Some cameras are placed inside toys, to give a puppy's-eye view of the action.[7]

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.[2][14]


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.[2] Ten full-size digital cameras and five GoPro miniature digital cameras were used in 2014 to capture the action. These numbers include the hidden cameras in the water bowl and toys.[1]

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.[4][5] For the 2012 Puppy Bowl, Schechter was replaced by SportsNet New York and Beer Money! host Dan Schachner.[15] Schachner hosted the show again in 2013 and 2014.[1][11] 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.[5] "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").[2] The show uses puns to mimic the rules of professional football, including paws interference (pass interference), rough sides (offsides), and dog-collar tackle (horse-collar tackle). Unique "penalties" called may also include howling, illegal bathing (playing in the water bowl), napping on the field, and premature watering of the lawn (urination).[1]

Each year, an MVP, or Most Valuable Puppy, is chosen at the end of the show for the puppy considered to be the stand-out performer of the event. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite puppy online through a pre-selected three MVP options, and at the end of the airing, the elected MVP is hoisted up as the award recipient. Different MVPs are declared for each time the Puppy Bowl is repeated throughout the Sunday broadcast day; as many as three different MVPs might be chosen over the course of the repeated airings, though the MVP vote can go to the same puppy on different airings of Puppy Bowl if the votes turn out that way. For the archival DVD/on-demand Puppy Bowl releases, a single MVP is declared.

Although puppies may urinate or defecate on the field as frequently as once every 20 seconds, all but one of the incidents is edited out of the show.[1]

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."[16]

Team Ruff vs Team Fluff[edit]

2015's Puppy Bowl XI introduced team-based competition to Puppy Bowl for the first time.[17] Puppies are divided into two teams, each identifiable by a different colored bandanna worn throughout the event. Team Ruff is in green; Team Fluff is in yellow. Points scored through Touchdowns and Field Goals are tallied up depending on which team's bandanna the puppies who score are assigned to. (A hamster on a wheel runs power to the electronic scoreboard used to keep track of the score throughout the game.) At the end of each Puppy Bowl, the team with the most points is declared the victor.

In Puppy Bowl XI, Team Ruff overwhelmed their opponents to become the first ever Puppy Bowl champions. Final Score: 73 to 45.[18]

In Puppy Bowl XII, Team Ruff again took the title. Final Score: 70 to 44.[19]

Kitty Play Half-Time Show[edit]

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.[10] This number increased to 21 for the 2013 airing.[9] All the kittens are also animals from shelters, and are adoptable.[7]

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.[7]

Other features[edit]

In 2009, a model blimp (supposedly floating over the Puppy Bowl) was added.[20] 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).[5][20] The blimp returned in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.[10]

Beginning in 2010, "bunny cheerleaders" (rabbits) were shown, as if these animals were on the sidelines.[8] In 2011, the "bunny cheerleaders" were replaced by "chicken cheerleaders" (hens and roosters).[5] The bunnies and chickens were replaced by five pigs in a "Piggy Pep Squad" in 2012.[10] Hedgehog cheerleaders were introduced for 2013, but replaced with penguins in 2014.[21]

Also beginning in 2010, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) began sponsoring the Puppy Bowl.[22][23] 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.[24]

A new element for 2011 was a parody of the popular "Kiss Cam" used at sporting events. The "Kiss Cam" returned in 2012.[15]

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.[15]

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.[9][25][26] Owners of hedgehogs volunteered the use of their animals for the show. The tutus, however, did not stay on the animals.[7] 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.[27]

For the 2014 edition of the Puppy Bowl, the tenth anniversary of the show, First Lady Michelle Obama opened the show with footage of puppies "training" for the Puppy Bowl on the South Lawn of the White House.[28] Police dogs appeared on the field when the national anthem was played.[29] Returning as the official "tweeter" of the show was Meep the cockatiel.[21] The dwarf cat Lil Bub was added as a "commentator" broadcasting from a Chicago studio.[29] In reference to the Super Bowl's halftime show with Bruno Mars, Keyboard Cat "played" his song "Locked Out of Heaven" during the halftime show.[29] The half-time show also featured 30 kittens toppling dominoes and a kitten "parachuting" onto the field.[29] To increase interactivity with fans of the show, the Puppy Bowl X online site allowed fans to play a "Fantasy Puppy League" (similar to fantasy football) featuring the 2014 puppies, gave fans the chance to vote for the "Most Valuable Puppy" during the event, and gave viewers the opportunity to post photos of their own animals and Puppy Bowl parties via Instagram.[21][29] Entertainment Weekly reporter James Hibbered commented on the changes by noting, "Animal Planet is simply embracing viral-video favorites and ratcheting up the sports-spoof silliness to a new level this year."[29]

With the Super Bowl in New York City where the Puppy Bowl is filmed, Animal Planet established a "Puppy Bowl Experience" at the Discovery Times Square exhibition space. The "experience" included a 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) where people can play with puppies, a recreation of the Puppy Bowl set, and advertising sponsor areas.[6][21] The Puppy Bowl experience is a separate event from the televised Puppy Bowl, and does not factor into the "Team Ruff vs Team Fluff" competition or "MVP" voting. This practice continued at future Super Bowl host cities, including "Puppy Bowl: Live" in San Francisco in 2016.

An emphasis on adopting pets from shelters became a focus of the show in 2014 as well. A total of 33 shelters from 18 states and the territory of Puerto Rico supplied shelter animals (dogs, cats, hamsters, etc.) for the Puppy Bowl.[1] All the animals on the show (except for the penguins) are shelter animals, and usually all are adopted by the time the show airs.[1] Throughout the program, updates on the status of each of the adopted puppies will be given. Throughout the program, however, the adoption journey of Rosie (now named Scout), a three-month-old Chihuahua/terrier mix, will be followed from her arrival at the shelter to her life with her new family.[13]

Puppy Bowls[edit]

# Puppy Bowl MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) Original air date
1 Puppy Bowl I Max, a Jack Russell Terrier February 6, 2005
2 Puppy Bowl II Monseigneur Jacques, a French Poodle February 5, 2006
3 Puppy Bowl III Bomber, a Samoyed February 4, 2007
4 Puppy Bowl IV Abigail, a Jack Russell Terrier February 3, 2008
5 Puppy Bowl V Matilda, a Beagle February 1, 2009
6 Puppy Bowl VI Jake, a Chihuahua/Pug Mix February 7, 2010
7 Puppy Bowl VII CB, a Shih Tzu/Terrier Mix February 6, 2011
8 Puppy Bowl VIII Fumble, a Terrier Mix February 5, 2012
9 Puppy Bowl IX Fitz, a Catahoula Mix February 3, 2013
10 Puppy Bowl X Loren, a Brittany[30] February 2, 2014
11 Puppy Bowl XI Henry, a Lab Mix February 1, 2015
12 Puppy Bowl XII Star, a Chow Chow Mix February 7, 2016
13 Puppy Bowl XIII TBA February 5, 2017


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 50 percent to 7.5 million viewers.[2]

Puppy Bowl IV, which aired on Animal Planet on February 3, 2008, had more than 8 million viewers for all its broadcasts, for a total increase of 1060 percent from its first airing in 2005.[31] It was also the first Puppy Bowl broadcast in high definition.[31]

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.[3]

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.[32] Puppy Bowl VII in 2011 had a total 9.2 million estimated viewers for all airings.[33]

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.[27] This included an increase of 17 percent in ratings in its target demographic group (adults age 25-to-54).[25] More than 200,000 Puppy Bowl-related tweets were made on that day.[27]

Puppy Bowl IX aired on February 3, 2013.

Puppy Bowl X aired six times over 12 hours on February 2, 2014, with new content added for each airing.[1]

Puppy Bowl XI aired on February 1, 2015 and was watched by 2,767,000 viewers.[34]

Puppy Bowl XII aired on February 7, 2016.

Advertising revenue for the 2013 show was up 19 percent over 2012, and drew a number of new advertisers. For the first time, Animal Planet allowed commercial branding of its "stadium" in 2013 as well. It was referred to throughout the program as the "GEICO Puppy Bowl Stadium".[25] An aggregate of 12.4 million viewers watched part of all six airings of the Puppy Bowl in 2013.[6][29]

Advertising revenue for the 2014 Puppy Bowl rose 30 percent over 2013. Three new companies became sponsors of the show, and Mars, Incorporated's Sheba cat food company sponsored a new "cat VIP suite".[6]

Spin-offs and competition[edit]

Puppy Games[edit]

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.

Competitive shows[edit]

The Puppy Bowl is the inspiration for Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl, which first aired in 2014.[28]

The Puppy Bowl also inspired the Fish Bowl, four hours of goldfish swimming in a bowl, which first aired in 2014 on the Nat Geo Wild cable network.[28]

See also[edit]

  • The Puppy Channel, a defunct cable network which broadcast only footage of puppies.


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