Where to watch: Tune in Thanksgiving Day at noon on NBC.
What: The dog show attracts over 1,600 of the top show dogs, comprised of over 150 different breeds and varieties, which compete for Best of Breed, First in Group and Best in Show.
Announcer: Wayne Ferguson, the show announcer, is a KCP Board member and President of the Canine Health Foundation and a Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
John O’Hurley is the celebrity commentator for the event along with David Frei who is the dog show expert and analyst.
Learn more about the show, the judging, the breeds and last years winners- this years’ will be posted when the show is done at the National Dog Show page on NBC Sports.
Tips on how to judge Best in Show
What key factors decide the overall champion show dog
In choosing Best in Show at the National Dog Show presented by Purina, the dogs are examined and placed according to how closely each dog compares with the judge’s mental image of the perfect dog as described in the breed’s official standard. As part of NBCSports.com’s coverage of this competition, below is a look at the making of a champion from David Frei, analyst on NBC’s telecast of The National Dog Show.
Much of the fun of watching a dog show, either on television or in person, is that we can all be judges.
In the sport, we call it judging from outside the ring.
Everyone can have a favorite for whatever reason they choose: it can be based on technical knowledge of a breed or knowledge of dogs in general, or it can just be because you think a dog is cute.
But in the ring, it’s not quite that simple for the judge.
Dog show judges have spent years and years studying different breeds in order to become licensed to judge.
The basic purpose of the dog shows is to evaluate breeding stock to find the best dogs to produce the next generations.
To do that, judges must understand form and function: what specific job a breed was developed to perform, and what physical traits and structure will best accommodate that job.
They also need to understand dogs in general, of course, their basic anatomy and conditioning.
The ideal specimen of every breed is described in its “Breed Standard”, a written description detailing the ideal specimen of that breed.
Judges must know the standard of every breed they are judging.
The standard generally relates form to function, describing general appearance, movement, temperament, and specific physical traits such as height and weight, coat, colors, eye color and shape, ear shape and placement, feet, tail, and more.
Some standards can be very specific, while some others can be rather general and leave much room for individual interpretation by judges.
This results in the sport’s subjective basis: one judge, applying his or her interpretation of the standard, giving his or her opinion of the best dog on that particular day.
If your opinion from outside the ring is different from the official judge inside the ring, just remember that judge gets and up close and personal perspective.
The judge gets to examine those traits, look in the mouth, feel the structure and conditioning that is under all that hair.
The judge also gets to watch the dogs move from the best vantage point — in the ring.
Because of their training and experience, the judges know exactly what to look for.
Then they put all those observations together and determine which of the dogs in the ring that day best resembles that ideal specimen described in the standards.
Have fun seeing how your choices compare to those of the judges.
This Thanksgiving tradition goes to the dogs
PHILADELPHIA – Tom Turkey, meet Uno the beagle.
Thanksgiving may be a time for football, floats and fabulous feasts, but your four-legged friend also has something to watch after the big parade.
This is one holiday that has definitely gone to the dogs.
The National Dog Show on NBC has become as much a fixture on Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie and those NFL games. But unlike the football games, the dog show — sponsored by the Philadelphia Kennel Club — is actually taped ahead of time. This year, it’s being held over the weekend in Reading, Pa.
NBC Sports is a partner in the joint venture that runs nbcsports.com.
“It’s a celebration of the specialness that dogs bring to our lives,” said actor and dog show host John O’Hurley. “They live in the present moment. They’re not looking at you and thinking of another conversation they should have. It’s a celebration of joy. Dogs don’t know how to be anything else but dogs.”
This is no ordinary dog and turkey show. An average of 19.2 million viewers watched last year, proving that this is definitely a show about something.
About 15,000 fans are expected to attend Saturday and Sunday at the Greater Reading Expo Center for the most popular show for pooches outside the one run by the Westminster Kennel Club. This year, Uno became the first beagle to ever win best in show at Westminster, and the retired pup will make a cameo appearance at the National Dog Show. More than 150 breeds and varieties of dogs will howl, strut and be judged this weekend.
O’Hurley, who has hosted the show since it started airing on NBC in 2002, called it the Kentucky Derby of dog shows.
“When you’re watching these dogs that all are the best of their breeds in the ring there, it is like watching these thoroughbreds walk down toward the starting gate,” he said. “You get the sense that this is the best of what it could possibly be.”
O’Hurley, perhaps best known for playing J. Peterman on “Seinfeld,” is a passionate dog lover and has authored two books about his favorite domesticated animal. His pitch from an NBC executive to host the show started with a two word phone call.
“Woof. Woof,” said O’Hurley, laughing.
O’Hurley is joined by dog expert and announcer David Frei. Frei moves to the judging ring this year for the Afghan Hounds and he will spend Thanksgiving on a float with Uno in Macy’s annual parade.
“I’m quite excited about it and I know that (Uno) has this special relationship with Snoopy,” he said.
And dogs have a special relationship with their human pals. Not even J. Peterman would be upset if Uno or another lovable pup took a lick of butter-based frosting on a cake that sat for 60 years in a poorly ventilated English basement.
OK, maybe turkey scraps or dog biscuits and gravy are more appropriate for a Thanksgiving snack.
The show might be a perfect time for President-elect Barack Obama to get a few ideas about what kind of dog to bring to the White House. Obama said on Election Night that he had promised his young daughters that they could get a dog once the race was over.
Frei said the family should consider a dog that has the right temperament and personality to live in the White House like a poodle, a Portuguese water dog or an Irish water spaniel.
“It’s a dog that’s going to have great visibility for eight years in our world,” Frei said. “In the dog world, it means that they’re going to help us educate the public about responsible ownership. And I think that’s a key issue there.”
Only Saturday’s show will be taped for airing. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. The location has bounced around Pennsylvania and will move next year into its permanent residence at the Oaks Convention Center.
The show is presented by Purina and airs at noon on Thanksgiving, right after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
“I hope everybody’s sitting around with their arms around their dog and rooting on their favorite breed,” O’Hurley said.
Just make sure to walk the mutt after dinner, though. Sometimes even the pampered showstoppers forget where they are.
“In the second year that we were doing it, a Great Dane came out and right in front of David and I at the NBC booth, he squatted down and left us a package right there on the floor as only the size and aroma of a Great Dane could do,” O’Hurley said.