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Dogs – thousands of them, from Chihuahuas to ginormous Great Danes – met in Orlando, Florida compete in the American Kennel Club’s annual flagship event, formally called the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin.

No matter where you’re located, you can stream the show from the comfort of your living room.

The 2021 AKC National Championship will air on ABC as a three-hour special on Sunday, January 2, 2022 at 2 p.m. ET.

As the largest dog show in North America, more than 5,000 dogs entered from all 50 states and 13 countries. Dogs will compete for multiple titles across various events and more than $150,000 in prize money, the largest in the world of dog shows.

“It is our honor to be able to continue the tradition of this magnificent show and host top canine competitors from around the world,” said Dennis Sprung, Show Chairman and President and CEO of the AKC. “The athleticism displayed across our sports by these well-bred dogs is truly a sight to see, and we’re thrilled to return to ABC to televise our signature event, the crowning of America’s champion, for dog enthusiasts.”

Hosting the broadcast is AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo and noted sportscaster Carolyn Manno.

Dog Show Basics

The biggest part of the multi-day event is the AKC National Championship Groups and Best in Show. So what exactly are you watching? If you’re new to watching dog shows, let’s go over the basics. Most dog shows take place in a single day, following a pyramid-style competition format.

At the first, broadest level, dogs of each breed compete against each other, with one earning the coveted Best of Breed ribbon.

Later in the day, those breed winners compete in their respective groups. The AKC recognizes seven groups, in which dogs are categorized based on a similar function or history.

Sporting dogs, for example, were bred to hunt birds on land or water; Toy dogs evolved to provide companionship in a pint-size package. (If you are doing research on a future family member, focusing on a particular group can help you zero in on the temperament, activity level, and sometimes size that’s right for you.) Each group judge then places four winners, though only first place continues on to Best in Show.

Golden Retrievers have never won the sporting group or gone Best in Show at the AKC National Championship, despite being the third most popular breed in the U.S. However, Goldens have gone Best Bred-By Exhibitor in Show three different times, and are the only breed to win Best BBE more than once.

Can’t Wait?

Check out last year’s show in the meantime, or stream the action-packed AKC Agility Invitational Finals!


Watch the 2021 AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin on January 2 at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.

Related article: How Does a Dog Win a Dog Show?
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