Every Thanksgiving, dog lovers look forward to more than just a delicious meal with their family. Thanksgiving Day is also when The National Dog Show airs on NBC! Before watching this year’s collection of remarkable dogs compete on the big stage, check out these five facts you may not know about this Thanksgiving tradition.

1) Over 2,000 dogs representing nearly 200 breeds will compete for the ‘Best in Show’ prize.

There are currently 185 breeds and varieties competing for the Best in Show prize at the 2018 National Dog Show, organized by The Kennel Club of Philadelphia. Each breed is assigned to one of seven groups based on the characteristics and traditional functions of their breed. The seven groups are: The Herding Group, The Sporting Group, The Hound Group, The Terrier Group, The Working Group, The Toy Group and the Non-Sporting Group. Judges choose a winner from each breed in group, and these breed winners move on to compete against the other dogs in the group. The seven Best in Group winners then return to the stage for the final round of judging, to determine the top prize, Best in Show.

2) No new breeds will be competing in the 2017 National Dog Show.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) has sanctioned two new breeds for 2018. They are the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje and Grand Basset Griffon Vendéen (GBGV). Read more about them here!

3) Only one breed has won Best in Show at the National Dog Show more than once since 2001.

The Best in Show Prize has been spread out among a variety of breeds in the 21st century, but only one breed has snagged the title more than once: the Wire Fox Terrier. At the 2011 National Dog Show, a Wire Fox Terrier named Eira (full name GCH Steele Your Heart) won Best in Show. One year later, a Wire Fox Terrier named Sky (full name GHC Afterall Painting the Sky), with the same owner and the same handler, won Best in Show. This was also the first time ever that a breed won two consecutive Best in Show titles at the National Dog Show. Sky would go on to win the top prize at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in 2014. That’s quite a remarkable run for the energetic terrier!

4) The National Dog Show is one of only 6 “Benched” Dog Shows in the US.

According to the Kennel Club of Philadephia’s website, a benched show is “where the participating dogs are required to be on assigned benches when they are not being shown in competition. This allows for all interested spectators, breeders, handlers and attendees to meet all of the participating dogs, interact, ask questions, and share information about the various breeds present at the show.” The more common dog show format is “show and go,” and does not include this public element. The National Dog Show is one of only 6 remaining benched dog shows in the United States, and one of the oldest.

5) Nearly 20 million people watch the National Dog Show broadcast on Thanksgiving Day.

A Thanksgiving tradition for dog lovers, The National Dog Show Presented by Purina is broadcast nationwide at noon on NBC on Thanksgiving Day immediately following the Macy’s Parade. Nearly 20 million viewers tuned in last year for the holiday broadcast, making it the most widely viewed dog show in America. The two-hour TV event features the highlights of The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s two-day long dog show, which takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving. The broadcast includes all seven Group rounds and ends with the crowning of this year’s Best in Show!

Twitter fans, follow us at @dogwatchfence to join the fun as we live-tweet this year’s show!


Featured Photo Credit: The Kennel Club of Philadelphia’s National Dog Show Facebook Page

This post, originally published in November 2017, has been updated in November 2018.