Puppy Bowl 2022: What Is It and When It First Began

Who cares about the Rams or Bengals when puppies are playing on Sunday? The 18th edition of the Puppy Bowl begins at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on Animal Planet, with a pre-game special airing at 1 p.m. ET, long before the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals play for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LVI at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The Puppy Bowl will also be available to stream on Discovery+. Since the Puppy Bowl first began, its goal has been to raise awareness for pet adoption nationwide. 

This year's Puppy Bowl will again feature ruf-eree Dan Schachner, who makes sure no one on Team Ruff and Team Fluff gets too rough with each other. Steve LEby and Taylor Rooks also returned as commentators. The game will feature over 100 adoptable puppies from 67 shelters and rescues from 33 states. 

The Puppy Bowl first aired in 2005, opposite Super Bowl XXXIX. It was actually conceived as a joke by Animal Planet executives. They thought the best way to compete with the Super Bowl would be to "point a camera at puppies" on a football field, comparing it to the burning Yule Log that shows up on TV during the holiday season. "It was always a joke: How do you counter the Super Bowl? Let's just put a box of puppies up there and call it a day," Margo Kent, the executive producer for the first Puppy Bowl, told Rolling Stone in 2014. "It's not worth trying to go against the Super Bowl." The joke turned into reality and the gamble paid off. Over 5.8 million people tuned in to Puppy Bowl I, which was a 12-hour broadcast.

As with many programs that have been on for over a decade, the Puppy Bowl has evolved into the biggest money-maker for Animal Planet. The show now airs before the Super Bowl, so those interested in both dog and human athletes can enjoy both. Animal Planet even aired a pre-show, The Puppy Bowl Presents: The Dog Bowl to highlight older dogs available for adoption. Unfortunately, there was no Dog Bowl show last year, but Animal Planet mentioned senior pets and pets with special needs during the main broadcast, notes NJ.com.

The Puppy Bowl has become such a phenomenon that this year's edition will feature celebrity hosts. Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg are once again participating. Schachner has also become an irreplaceable part of the Puppy Bowl. This year will mark his 10th time as ruff-eree. "Every year is different from the last, there are new surprises at every turn," Schachner told This Dog's Life. "I get to meet dozens of dogs — and rescue groups — from across the country and help support their mission of adoption awareness."

One other big difference between the 2021 broadcast and past years is that not all dogs during the show were adopted before the broadcast. In the past, fans have been disappointed to learn that all the dogs featured in the show have been adopted already — but in 2021. Instead, the Puppy Bowl will showcase 11 dogs and three cats who could not attend the taping because of the coronavirus pandemic reports Entertainment Weekly. The segments were only recently filmed, and most of them will still be looking for new homes when the broadcast begins.

Puppy Bowl XVII will also include puppy cheerleaders on the sideline and a half-time featuring kittens. During the broadcast, fans can vote for their favorite dog in the Pupularity Playoffs at PuppyBowl.com.