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Boston may have cinched the World Series, but Houston has the monopoly on its canine namesake: the Houston World Series of Dog Shows, held every July at the sprawling NRG Center.

This year, you can watch the 2021 Houston World Series of Dog Shows all from the comfort of your couch, starting Friday, July 23 at 5:15 pm ET, and Saturday, July 24 at 2:30 pm ET on AKC.TV.

The Houston event is a “cluster,” or group of dog shows held in one venue, which began in the 1970s to help mitigate the effects of the gasoline shortage. Everything is bigger in Texas, of course, and Houston does not disappoint. The multi-day extravaganza typically draws approximately 40,000 spectators and participants, and more than 14,000 entries. This year, due to COVID, the event is being restricted to just conformation judging.

As you might expect, the heart of the World Series of Dog Shows has always been the conformation competition—a fancy way of saying traditional dog show. The super-long weekend compasses four “all-breed” shows, in which a full complement of canines competes for the honor of winning Best in Show.

How does the Houston World Series of Dog Shows Work?

Think of it like a pyramid. At the beginning of each day, dogs compete against their own breed, with one lucky one emerging as Best of Breed. Next, those breed winners go on to compete in one of the seven Groups, divided by function—from the bird hunters of the Sporting Group to the lap-warming companions of the Toy Group. Those seven Group winners, in turn, go on to the final level to compete for Best in Show at the end of each day.

The next day, it’s a brand new show and the whole process begins again. By the end of the weekend, there will be four best-in-show winners.

If you’re a little rusty on your breed identification, the AKC.TV coverage includes informative commentary by AKC staffers who have a lifetime of experience in the sport of dogs. It’s likely you’ll find every breed on your must-see list, and some you’ve never heard of.

Jargon alert: You’ll hear the commentators talk about how a dog is a “specialty” winner, referring to shows that are open only to dogs of that breed; the annual show put on by a breed’s main parent club is called a national specialty. There is arguably no greater achievement than winning this contest among your peers, making it aptly named. A “special” win, indeed.

It’s one time you do want to mess with Texas—and it’s there for the watching, right on the screen of your choice. See y’all there.

Experience the Houston World Series of Dog Shows on AKC.TV starting Friday, July 23 at 5:15 pm ET, and Saturday, July 24 at 2:30 pm ET. Find it on AKC.TV, on any device or watch on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.
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