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Thousands of dogs put their best paw forward for the title of National Champion

The AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin® will air on its new network, ABC, as a three-hour special this Sunday January 17, 2021 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The show features thousands of dogs from around the country and the world competing for the coveted title of National Champion.

Hosting the 20th Anniversary broadcast is veteran sportscaster Mary Carillo, with AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo, and noted sportscaster Carolyn Manno handling the paw-by-paw duties. This year’s AKC National Championship was the largest dog show in North America with 4,008 dogs entered in Conformation from 49 states and Washington, DC and 7 countries combined with competitions in Agility, Obedience, Rally, Diving Dogs and AKC Fastest Dog, bringing the total entries to over 8,000. Dogs competed for multiple titles across various events and more than $150,000 in prize money, the largest in the world of dog shows.

“Each year, it is our honor to host the top canine competitors from around the world, as they display their athleticism across our sports,” said Dennis Sprung, Show Chairman, and President and CEO of the AKC. “We are thrilled to televise our signature event on ABC, where dog enthusiasts across the country can learn more about dog sports, responsible breeders and witness the crowning of America’s National Champion.”

Jason Taylor, Assistant Show Chairman and Royal Canin Vice President of Marketing adds, “At Royal Canin, we are passionate about breeds and what makes each one unique. That’s why we are thrilled to share this passion with dog lovers nationwide as they tune in to watch the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin on ABC. Viewers can look forward to seeing an action-packed show that highlights the magnificent details that make dogs extraordinary.”

The AKC National Championship will air on ABC as part of the newest 3-year content agreement between the American Kennel Club and ESPN. The show will re-air on ESPN television channels, Nat Geo WILD channel and AKC.tv.

Award winning company B Live Productions will once again produce the TV broadcast.

Out of an abundance of caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AKC National Championship did not have spectators at any of the events held at the Orange County Convention Center December 8-13, 2020. Attendance was limited to exhibitors (handlers, handler assistants and owners), judges, production crew, and event staff. There were also numerous safety requirements in place, including the wearing of face coverings, temperature checks, social distancing, a show & go policy and sanitizing stations.

Additionally, the road to becoming a champion dog – in the ring or our hearts – starts at puppyhood. In advance of the TV broadcast of the AKC National Championship Presented by Royal Canin, Royal Canin will celebrate the magnificence of puppyhood with the second annual Royal Canin Puppy Pre-Show. Hosted by Emmy award-winning producer, actor and television personality Wayne Brady, the Royal Canin Puppy Pre-Show invites dog lovers on a fun, educational and whimsical journey to learn about the magnificence of puppyhood and celebrate their champions at home through a puppy video contest. National Championship host Mary Carillo will put her dog knowledge to test as she crowns a Puppy Best In Show champion. The Royal Canin Puppy Pre-Show will run on Royal Canin’s Facebook page on January 12, 2021.

For more information, please visit www.akc.org/nationalchampionship

Media Contacts: 
Brandi Hunter
American Kennel Club
(212) 696-8220
bth@akc.org

Courtney Suthoff
Royal Canin
636.448.6137
Courtney.suthoff@royalcanin.com