Dog show

How to watch the 2021 AKC National Championship dog show and not miss all the stars

dog competing in the AKC National Championship

Courtesy of the American Kennel Club

We are happy to avoid college football games and world weightlifting championships at this time of year. In just a week, you’ll find us with dog breed guides in hand and popcorn ready for the 2021 AKC National Championship Dog Show presented by Royal Canin. It airs next weekend, December 18-19, from Orlando and has the potential for some serious furry action!

The American Kennel Club (AKC) hosts the largest canine event in North America, with over 4,000 competitors per year and representing nearly 200 different breeds. First known as the American Dog Classic when it debuted in 2001, this conformation show (so much more than a beauty contest!) celebrates all the best attributes of dogs in seven different groups, according to their breed standards. It’s also the highest-earning show, with $150,000 in prizes.

Here are the burning questions for this year’s event.

Will Darling Whippet Bourbon win the “Best in Show” award again?

Yup, it’s hard to say. Bourbon (shown above), won in 2020 and comes from a fairly popular winning line. Her littermate Whiskey won the coveted title in 2018 and was the first whippet to do so.

Corn, there was a wowza moment with Claire, the Scottish Greyhound who recently made headlines as the two-time winner of the National Dog Show’s ‘Best in Show’ in November, hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, winning thus the trophy in 2020 and 2021.

So who knows what’s in store?

All conformation show judges have specific requirements that they use to assess who becomes the best dog of the year based on their breed standard. Although there is a winner in each group and one of this group participates in the Best in Show, the dogs are not technically competing against each other. No group or race wins the prize every time. It’s a bit confusing, so we made a guide to understand how this dog show works.

Want to see the winners from previous years? Here is a list of all AKC Best in Show National Championship winners since 2001.

Which dogs are the most experienced?

While most show dogs can start competing as young as 6 months old, many are at least 2 years old before entering the big ring, with many local and regional championship wins under their collar. The average age (well, as we do in “human years”) is around 6-7 years old.

In this year’s championship, there are two other seasoned puppies that people have their sights set on in the sport classes of the larger program:

I’m excited! How to watch the dog show?

From Tuesday, December 14 through Sunday, December 19, you can watch all the action free on AKC.TV, from invitational and staging events to the AKC Best in Show National Championship. You can also download the AKC.TV app to stream events through your AppleTV, Amazon Fire, or Roku service, as well as on your tablet or smartphone. Here’s the full schedule so you can see what event is happening throughout the competition.

The show will also air on ABC on Sunday, January 2, 2022 as a three-hour special starting at 2 p.m. EST.

This is entertainment worth watching!