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 1,500 dogs representing nearly 200 breeds will compete for the ‘Best in Show’ prize.

There are currently 205 breeds and varieties competing for the Best in Show prize at the 2022 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) Three dog breeds will be competing in the National Dog Show for the first time in 2022.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) welcomed three new breeds into their ranks in 2022. They are the Mudi, the Russian Toy and the Bracco Italiano. Read more about them here!

Russian Toy, Bracco Italiano and Mudi

3) Last year’s Best in Show champion was a repeat winner!

In 2021, a Scottish Deerhound named Claire become the first dog in history to win two consecutive Best in Show titles at the National Dog Show. Claire, whose full registered name is GCH Foxcliffe Claire Randall Fraser, comes from a long line of show dogs, including her grandmother Hickory, who won Best in Show at the Westminster Dog Show in 2011. This years’ entrants needn’t fear a triple win, however, as Claire retired after her win in 2021. She now enjoys life as a pampered pet at her home in Virginia.

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 benched format was suspended for the past two years due to Covid-19 restrictions. 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 and streaming on Peacock 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!

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 2022.