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AKC National Championship Dog Show presented by Royal Canin Premieres On Animal Planet New Year’s Day At 7pm ET With Guest Host Jerry O’Connell

Sportscasters Jason Knapp and Sam Ryan and AKC’s Gina DiNardo
to Serve as Co-Hosts;

U.S. Marine and K9 Handler Megan Leavey Joins the Nation’s Largest Dog Show

Royal Canin, a global pet food leader, and Animal Planet today announced the AKC National Championship Dog Show Presented by Royal Canin will premiere on Animal Planet on New Year’s Day, Monday, Jan. 1, 2018 at 7PM ET. An encore of the special will air at 11PM ET. Actor, television personality, and dog lover Jerry O’Connell serves as this year’s guest host, joining co-hosts, sportscasters Jason Knapp and Sam Ryan and AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo.

The AKC National Championship is one of the most prestigious dog shows in North America, with more than 8,600 entries from around the world expected to compete for various prestigious titles across events and thousands vying for the biggest monetary award in the world of dog sports. Animal Planet audiences will see highlights from each competition category, including agility, dock diving, and the highly-anticipated Best in Show. The competition takes place in Orlando, Fl. on Dec. 16 and 17, 2017.

“Animal Planet is excited to premiere the AKC National Championship on New Year’s Day, which will allow our audiences across numerous platforms the opportunity to start 2018 with some of the world’s most beloved dog breeds,” said Erin Wanner, Vice President, Production, Animal Planet.

After experiencing the competition for the first-time last year, O’Connell is back to guest host parts of the competition, including the Best in Show finale, and take the Animal Planet audiences on a rare behind-the-scenes look at the largest dog show in the country.

“I’m honored to again be a part of the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin where dog lovers will be able to see hundreds of breeds competing for top honors in the conformation ring, as well as see the tremendous things dogs can do through companion events, including agility, obedience and dock diving,” said O’Connell, owner of a German Shepherd Dog. “There is no better way to learn about these impressive dogs and all of their talents than by seeing this show firsthand. We’re excited to create a great show for Animal Planet so the viewers at home will feel like they were there for every exciting moment.”

Kamie Eckert, Royal Canin USA President added, “Royal Canin is a company passionate about purebreds. That’s why we are thrilled to share this passion with audiences across the country this New Year’s Day, as they tune in to the AKC National Championship on Animal Planet. Viewers can look forward to seeing a show that highlights the magnificent details that make dogs extraordinary.”

This year’s AKC National Championship takes place at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center and will introduce several new elements, including special appearances by U.S. Marine and Military Police K9 Handler Megan Leavey at the Eukanuba booth and other events throughout the show. Eukanuba, which helped the AKC create the event in 2001, returns as a sponsor of the companion events, as the AKC National Championship celebrates its 17th year.

“Each year, we continue to attract thousands of the best canine competitors from around the world,” explained Dennis Sprung, Show Chairman and President & CEO of the AKC. “This year is no exception, and we look forward to the opportunity to show the human-canine bond to Animal Planet viewers. The network’s long-standing commitment to animals and education makes them a perfect network partner, aligned with our mission of advocating for our canine companions.”

Orlando attendees will also get the chance to see the first AKC Royal Canin National All-Breed Puppy and Junior Stakes. The new event was created exclusively for puppy and junior purebred dogs, ages six to 18 months, and will take place prior to the AKC National Championship on Friday, Dec. 15, 2017. For those who want to see the AKC National Championship activities live, events will be streamed online at  

This year’s AKC National Championship will feature a dynamic line-up of broadcast sponsors including: Nature’s Miracle®, ProSense®, Eukanuba™, Banfield Pet Hospital®, and AKC Pet Insurance. Each of the sponsors, along with the AKC and Royal Canin, share the same passion and support for purebred dogs, as well as a commitment to create the most successful dog show on television.

Additional information about this year’s show, including breed categories, events and more, are available to online users at or