Puppy Bowl vs. Super Bowl: Get Ready for Some Ruff-housing!

Every year on the first Sunday of February, millions of viewers tune in to watch a heavily anticipated sports program. That’s right, we’re talking about Animal Planet’s annual Puppy Bowl. While football fans crowd around to watch the Super Bowl, dog lovers will also turn to the Puppy Bowl, featuring 78 adorable rescue pups this year. Though the focus of the Super Bowl and Puppy Bowl are quite different, the format of the games is surprisingly similar. Let’s see just how much the two programs have in common.

The Lineup
Both the Super Bowl and Puppy Bowl feature a starting lineup of impressive and diverse players. For the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots boast several past championship wins with star quarterback Tom Brady, while Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons is an impressive player in his own right. Furry players on the Puppy Bowl lineup include purebreds and mixes of all kinds, including a Pomsky named Alexander Hamilpup on Team Fluff and a Shar Pei named Smooshie on Team Ruff. Both games will also have players sustaining past injuries. Julio Jones of the Falcons plans to appear on field with a sprained toe, and perhaps even more impressive, Lucky from Team Fluff won’t let his lack of four legs stop him from getting in the game. We find the the players of the Puppy Bowl to be just as admirable as the much idolized human players of the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl and Puppy Bowl are also organized quite similarly with iconic American football features. Both games share a stadium setting, instant replay shots and various cameras to capture all the action from different angles. Just like in the Super Bowl, Puppy Bowl players are divided into two teams: Team Fluff, identified by yellow bandanas, and Team Ruff, identified by green bandanas. During the 120-minute running time of the Puppy Bowl, puppies earn points by making “puppy touchdowns,” which are declared when a puppy drags a football-shaped dog toy into the end zone of the field. A human referee observes the action to determine how many points are earned. Throughout the game, the announcer and referee use football terminology to narrate the pup players’ actions. Other football game-inspired elements include a puppy Kiss Cam, the singing of the national anthem (of which the puppies are required to sit at attention for before the game starts), and the formal presentation of the Puppy Bowl trophy to the winning team and MVPs after the game.

Rules and Penalties

Just like any professional game, the players in the Puppy Bowl must abide by certain rules and regulations. It is up to the referee to determine if a puppy’s action is lawful or unlawful. The referee may also call a timeout for necessary breaks, such as refilling a water bowl or breaking up a fight (called “unnecessary ruff-ness”) between puppies. The show mimics the jargon of the Super Bowl with terms such as “paws interference” (pass interference), “ruff sides” (offsides), and “dog-collar tackle” (horse-collar tackle). Penalties may be issued for behaviors including howling, “illegal bathing” (playing in the water bowl), napping on the field and “premature watering of the lawn” (urinating on the field). Likewise, in American football, players can earn points by making touchdowns, and the team with the most points at the end of the games emerges the winner. Of course, players can also be penalized for aggressive behavior or failure to adhere to game rules.

The two halves of a football game are separated by a period called “halftime,” during which players can take a breather and discuss strategy. One of the defining features of the Super Bowl is its halftime show, presenting viewers with performances from famous entertainers. The Puppy Bowl is no stranger to entertaining halftime spectacles. Their halftime show brings some animal variety by adding felines to the mix. During the half-hour “Kitty Half-Time Show,” a group of adorable kittens grace the field with their presence as spectators watch them play with toys like yarn, a scratching post, laser pointers and more. Though the players take a break during this period, the cuteness never stops!


One player from each of the games will receive the title of MVP. The “MVP” in the Super Bowl stands for “Most Valuable Player,” while in the Puppy Bowl the acronym stands for “Most Valuable Puppy.” The Associated Press selects the MVP from the Super Bowl, while viewers of the Puppy Bowl get to vote online for their favorite pup, and a winner is announced at the end of the show. A different MVP may be chosen each time the Puppy Bowl is broadcasted throughout the day, with as many as three winners. So far, the breed with the most MVP wins from the Puppy Bowl has been the Jack Russell Terrier with two wins, and last year’s was a Chow-Chow mix named Star. Who will score the title this year?
While there are some surprising similarities between the Puppy Bowl and the Super Bowl, one thing’s for sure: it doesn’t get much cuter than a field full of puppies playing to their heart’s content.

Who do you think will win MVP this year?