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Monday, January 23, 2017 Featuring Celebrity Jerry O'Connell


Three-hour Special Broadcast Marks Return of Premiere Dog Show to National Television


Royal Canin, a global pet food leader and The American Kennel Club today announced the return of the AKC National Championship to television via a new partnership with Hallmark Channel. The three-hour special, featuring America’s most beloved dog breeds, will premiere on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 6-9 ET/PT. The show will be anchored by AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo and sportscaster Jason Knapp and will feature special appearances by celebrity Jerry O’Connell.


“We’re proud to be the home of this prestigious national championship dog competition,” said Bill Abbott, President & Chief Executive Officer, Crown Media Family Networks. “Hallmark Channel has long been deeply committed to pets and pet welfare through a variety of key partnerships with animal advocacy groups and across our program schedule, and we’re delighted to now partner with AKC National Championship and Royal Canin for this exciting competition.”


Actor, television personality, and dog lover Jerry O’Connell will make special appearances throughout the show, taking viewers on a journey where, together, they will learn about pure bred dogs at their best, what the judges are looking for, and what happens behind the scenes at one of the most prestigious dog shows in the world.


“As the owner of a German Shepherd and lover of all dogs, I am excited to be a part of this year’s AKC National Championship, said actor Jerry O’Connell. “Between getting to see some of the most exceptional dogs in the world to learning about new breeds and the amazing things dogs can do like agility courses and dock diving – I know it will be an experience of a lifetime.”


More than five thousand of the top national and international dogs are expected to compete in the AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin, making it the largest dog show in North America with the largest monetary award in the world of dog sports. The three-hour pre-recorded special will feature winners from each of the competition categories, highlights from the Agility and Dock Diving competitions, and some of America’s brightest up and coming Junior Showmanship handlers. The show will culminate in the crowning of Best in Show.


The AKC National Championship will be held in Orlando, Florida from Dec. 17-18, 2016. As in the previous four years, the show will also be streamed via a live webcast at Last year’s popular live stream garnered 6.2 million viewers over two days.


“As a pet food leader among breeders and a long-time supporter of purebred dog sports, we are proud to partner with Hallmark Channel to bring the AKC National Championship back to national television,” said Keith Levy, Royal Canin USA President. “The emphasis Hallmark Channel places on pets and how they enrich our lives is a perfect complement to our brand philosophy, and how we can work together to create a better world for pets. Together, we’re looking forward to shining the spotlight on the magnificent details that make dogs extraordinary.”


Dennis Sprung, President and CEO of the AKC, added: “We are excited to bring our treasured National Championship back to national television through Hallmark Channel. For the past 16 years, we have hosted the best canine competitors in the world and highlighted the wonderful aspects of the canine-human bond. Hallmark Channel has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to the welfare of our canine companions which is at the core of our mission. We are delighted to be a part of this collaboration and look forward to showing people the dynamics of the dog sport.”


As part of the festivities, Royal Canin will launch a national sweepstakes on Saturday, December 17, 2016 to coincide with the first day of the AKC National Championship. The “My Best In Show” sweepstakes will give consumers an opportunity to win exciting prizes including a grand prize and instant win prizes.


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