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Puppy Bowl XIX

The Fur-1-1 on Puppy Bowl XIX!

Let’s have a round of a-paws for the annual Puppy Bowl! Excitingly, the games have returned for a nineteenth year of fun. We are certain  that you have many questions including what, where, when, and how. Don’t worry, American Service Pets is here with everything you need to know in preparation. While most of the Puppy Bowl’s former years events and traditions will make a reappearance, there are also a few major changes well worth pointing out. What can fans expect? Read on to get all the details! 

Table of Contents

How Did the Puppy Bowl Start?

The Puppy Bowl started in 2005, more or less by accident. Animal Planet executives first pitched the idea in a meeting, while thinking of programming concepts to counteract blows to their views during the actual Super Bowl action. There wasn’t much weight placed on pointing a camera at a bunch of puppies as they ran around on set, a notion inspired by watching the popular Yule Log that burns on T.V. every Christmas season. After all, the Super Bowl is one of the most watched events in U.S. television history. 

Imagine everyone’s surprise when the very first Puppy Bowl pulled in almost 6 million viewers during its 12-hour time slot. Ratings soared, and ever since, the Puppy Bowl has thrived. Nearly twenty years since starting, it has now become its own annual affair. Who would have guessed tiny fur-balls chasing paw-sized footballs would become such a National hit? Dog and cat people, that’s who. Never underestimate the power of a pet!

Puppy Bowl XIX
Credit: Helen Woodward Animal Center

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Due to the new Department of Transportation (DOT) policy, Emotional Support Animals are NO longer allowed to fly in airplane cabins for free. However, Psychiatric Service Dogs are eligible.

What is the Puppy Bowl Exactly?

When it comes to the animals, over 120 canine contestants from 67 shelters and rescues nationwide will be placed on either Team Ruff or Team Fluff. From there, they’ll attempt to score touchdowns through obstacle courses and challenges. Much like every Puppy Bowl, the doggy contestants will follow commands – such as guard, chase, and fetch – as they ruff it down the field, into their pre-assigned end zones. One team will take home the “Lombarky” trophy, named in honor of the famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi. While not every puppy ends up with a trophy, they all leave the field as big winners. The real goal of the event is to find shelter animals their fur-ever homes! So far, 100 percent of the players have been placed with loving families. What’s even more remarkable is most of these puppies would otherwise be overlooked by shelter-goers everywhere.  

Who Hosts the Puppy Bowl?

Historically, each Puppy Bowl brings well-known sponsors, hosts, and famous T.V. personalities together to promote puppy and kitten adoptions. This year is no exception. Although the team coaches have been kept a secret, actor Dan Schachner will make a return as the referee for the 12th year in a row. In addition, sports commentator Steve Levy and sports broadcaster Taylor Rooks return for the play-by-play commentary. Other famous faces will include Zak Bagans from the hit-show Ghost Adventures, and Alex Guarnaschelli from Supermarket Sweep.

Is Puppy Bowl Just for Dogs?

Not entirely! Keeping in line with some other Super Bowl traditions, there will be dog and cat cheerleaders, and entertainment segments.

In fact, one of the most cherished customs is the Kitty Half-Time Show, where rescue and shelter cats get to show off their cuteness for the cameras. This is also done through the slow motion replays and footage from the Puppy Bowl’s infamous Water Bowl Cam! Luckily, each animal gets the chance to shine and show they all look the same on the inside, with hearts full of pure, unconditional love. 

This year’s event will be sponsored by Arm & Hammer Slide who will feature human sweepstakes chances up until after the game. 

Puppy Bowl XIX

Why is Puppy Bowl 2023 Special?

With so many fur-tastic customs already in place, coming up with new Puppy Bowl activities is surely a challenging task! So what’s brand-new on the agenda for 2023? For the very first time, 11 pups with special needs will get to be part of the action: 

Bea – a deaf pup who has a close bond with her sister, from ARF Beacon (NY)

Cheeky Tinker – a charmer who is hard-of-hearing, from Green Dogs Unleashed (VA)

Clover – a chipper contestant with a fused front leg, from Rescue Dogs Rock (NY) 

Julius – a hearing-impaired hound, also from Green Dogs Unleashed (VA) 

Joey – born without front legs, from Vintage Pet Rescue (RI) 

Kayden – a happy little puppy who also has hearing loss, from Green Dogs Unleashed (VA)

Little Mighty – a three-legged treasure hailing from Indie Humane (IN) 

Marmalade – deaf delight from Double J Dog Ranch (ID)

Mini – a disabled, pint-sized pup with big pizazz, from Rescue Dogs Rock (NY)

Mykonos – a cutie pie with a cleft palate, from Bosley’s Place (GA) 

Stardust – a one-eyed wonder from Danbury Animal Welfare Society (CT)

To learn more about all the special needs players, check out People Magazine’s virtual Puppy Bowl bios

In addition, this year’s roster will include animals from the game’s first Native American rescue. To view the Puppy Bowl’s 2023 full puppy player lineup, head over to the Discovery Channel for the fur-one-one. 

We love the strong implications that this lineup of disabled pups brings to the table. As a nation and in today’s society, the concept of inclusivity can often be lost. The Super Bowl allows us to be dazzled by star athletes who are usually functioning at peak physical and mental health. This years Puppy Bowl is a welcome reminder that every life deserves to be celebrated, and that disabilities can come in a variety of forms. If you are dealing with a mental health disorder and are interested in verifying your qualification for an Emotional Support Animal or Psychiatric Service Animal, you can do so here.

Puppy Bowl XIX
Credit: Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Friedman

When is the Puppy Bowl?

As the most anticipated upcoming weekend in canine and NFL fandoms alike, the event kicks off on Sunday, February 12th. While you won’t be seeing any furry friends at the Super Bowl event inside State Farm Stadium, you can tune in to watch them competing in their own version before the Super Bowl begins. The XIX pre-game show starts at 1 pm ET (10 am PT), followed by three hours of puppy competitions and other adorableness. 

How To Watch Puppy Bowl 2023

As always, you can catch the fun and excitement on Animal Planet. This year, however, home viewers can watch on additional platforms: TBS network, Discovery Channel, HBOMax and Discovery Plus.

Ready, Set, Bark!

There you have it – all the major highlights for this year’s competition! With so much excitement packed into one day, and right before Super Bowl kickoff, Puppy Bowl XIX is a paw-fect choice for all of your pre-gaming needs. While not everyone is a football fanatic, I’d venture to say that most people want to support furry friends in finding a permanent home. 

Who do you think will take home this year’s trophy? Tune in on the 12th to find out if your predictions are right! 

As the show is pre-taped in New York (sometime in October), many of the dogs included in the lineup will have already been adopted prior to the games. As always, the shelters and rescues participating will have many other furry friends in need of homes as well. 
Puppy Bowl XIX
Credit: Tony Aviles/Bright Road Productions/Animal Planet/Discovery+
ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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