What to know about the 2021 National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day

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During an uncertain and difficult year, some Thanksgiving traditions stay the same as the 2021 National Dog Show returns to NBC after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 12:00 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 197 dog breeds and varieties, split into seven different groups.

Related: How to watch the 2021 National Dog Show: TV channel, live streaming

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 National Dog Show will only allow fully vaccinated spectators. Last year, the competition was held without spectators, vendors, sponsors or media. Judging followed strict safety guidelines, including social distancing, wearing masks and monitoring temperatures of all participants. The competition was also 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 vaccination policy for the 2021 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.

Where is the 2021 National Dog Show?

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

How can I watch the 2021 dog show on Thanksgiving Day?

Watch the 2021 National Dog Show on NBC directly after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Coverage of the National Dog Show begins on Thursday, November 25 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.

To watch the National Dog Show Jr., stream on Peacock starting at 2 pm ET after the National Dog Show concludes on the east coast.

How does the National Dog Show work? 

The American Kennel Club recognizes 197 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, one breed makes its National Dog Show debut:

  • The Biewer Terrier (pronounced like beaver), which competes in the Toy Group, originated in Germany as a tri-colored Yorkie. The heritage of the breed has been debated and discussed. Werner and Gertrud Biewer started breeding Yorkies in Germany. In 1984, they bred a Yorkie with the piebald genetic recessive gene, and they began producing more puppies with the gene.

Related: Download the 2021 National Dog Show program

Who won the 2020 National Dog Show?

Last year, Claire, the 3-year-old Scottish Deerhound, beat out over 600 dogs representing 196 breeds and varieties recognized by the American Kennel Club to win Best in Show.

Among the tallest of dog breeds, the Deerhound was bred to stalk the giant wild red deer. In silhouette, we see a coursing hound struck from the classic Greyhound template. Deerhounds are, though, much larger and more substantial than Greyhounds. A good-size male can stand 32 inches at the shoulder and weigh 110 pounds. The coat is seen in several colors and many prefer the dark blue-gray coat. The tapered head and long neck add to an already majestic hound.

“Claire has so many wonderful traits,” handler Angela Lloyd said after the win.

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

2019: Thor (Bulldog)
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 25, directly after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 12-2 p.m. local time on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.