What to know about the 2020 National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day

Mia Zanzucchi
·5 min read

During an uncertain and difficult year, some Thanksgiving traditions stay the same as the 2020 National Dog Show returns to NBC after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 26 at 12 p.m. local time. Click here to see who won the 2020 National Dog Show.

What is the National Dog Show?

The National Dog Show is one of the most well known dog shows in the world. Hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show was founded in 1879 and has been held annually since 1933. The NDS is sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, and only purebred dogs registered with the AKC can compete. The AKC recognizes 208 dog breeds and varieties, split into seven different groups.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 National Dog Show will be held without spectators, vendors, sponsors or media. Judging will be done following strict safety guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and monitoring temperatures of all participants. Competition will be limited to 600 dogs, a 70% decrease from the nearly 2,000 who compete in a regular year. Read more about the National Dog Show’s COVID-19 safety protocols for the 2020 edition.

NBC has televised the event after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since 2002. John O’Hurley and David Frei will reprise their roles as hosts, having co-hosted together since the National Dog Show first aired. Mary Carillo will also be back for more commentary, analysis and behind-the-scenes looks at one of the oldest dog shows in the world.

Related: Watch every single breed compete in the 2019 National Dog Show

Where is the 2020 National Dog Show?

The National Dog Show takes place at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa.

How can I watch the the 2020 dog show on Thanksgiving?

Watch the 2020 National Dog Show on NBC directly after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Coverage of the National Dog Show begins on Thursday, November 26 at 12 p.m. local time and runs until 2 p.m., covering group and Best in Show judging. The National Dog Show can also be streamed here on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app at 12 p.m. ET on Thanksgiving. The NBC Sports app is available on mobile and connected devices, including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

How does the National Dog Show work?

The American Kennel Club recognizes 208 breeds and varieties of dog (though every single one may not be represented at the National Dog Show from year to year). In the first round of the National Dog Show, dogs of the same breed will compete against each other based on how the dog fits the breed standards. The winner, named “Best in Breed,” will represent their breed at the next level: the group. The American Kennel Club categorizes every breed into seven groups (sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting and herding). At the group level, dogs are not judged against each other, but rather against how well they fit their breed standards. Each group winner, named “First in Breed,” will go on to compete in the final round for the coveted Best in Show.

This year, three breeds make their National Dog Show debut:

  • The Barbet, which competes in the Sporting Group, originated as a water dog in France. The breed has a curly coat that can be black, gray, brown, or fawn in color, sometimes with white markings. The Barbet is a calm dog but was bred to help retrieve birds. The breed’s name comes from the French word “barbe,” which means beard.

  • The rare Belgian Laekenois (“Lak-in-wah”) joins the Herding Group. This strong, sturdy and protective breed has a rough, tousled coat that can be shades of red, fawn or grey. The Belgian Laekenois was originally bred and raised to guard livestock and linens drying outside before serving as messenger dogs during WWI and WWII.

  • The Dogo Argentino, which falls under the Working Group, was originally a pack-hunting dog in Argentina. The breed was known to take down wild boar and puma, among other large game. Dogo Argentinos have short, white coats, but a dark patch near the eye is permitted as long as it doesn’t cover too much of the head.

Related: Download the 2020 National Dog Show program

Who won the 2019 National Dog Show?

Last year, Thor the Bulldog beat out over 2,000 dogs representing 196 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club to win Best in Show.

The Bulldog is believed to have originated in 13th-century England for the now-extinct “sport” of bullbaiting, which pitted dogs against bulls. After bullbaiting was banned in 1835, the breed almost died out, but Bulldog fans worked to build the breed back up and spread its recognition all the way across the pond to the AKC. Bulldogs have a very distinct look and stocky build with their pushed nose and big jowls among other characteristics.

“He’s a dog that always gives everything for me,” handler Eduardo Paris said after the win.

Who else has won Best in Show at the National Dog Show?

2018: Whiskey (Whippet)
2017: Newton (Brussels Griffon)
2016: Gia (Greyhound)
2015: Charlie (Skye Terrier)
2014: Nathan (Bloodhound)
2013: Jewel (American Foxhound)
2012: Sky (Wire Fox Terrier)
2011: Eira (Wire Fox Terrier)
2010: Clooney (Irish Setter)
2009: Sadie (Scottish Terrier)
2008: Holly (Pointer)
2007: Swizzle (Australian Shepherd)
2006: Vikki (Toy Poodle)
2005: Rufus (Colored Bull Terrier)
2004: Ch. Aimhi Avalon Renissance (Smooth Fox Terrier)
2003: Ch. Blue Chip Purple Reign (Doberman)
2002: Ch. Ale Kai Mikimoto on Fifth (Standard Poodle)

Watch NBC’s coverage of the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving day, November 26, directly after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 12-2 p.m. local time on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

What to know about the 2020 National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day originally appeared on NBCSports.com