For some, Thanksgiving is a time to indulge in a succulent feast of festive delights. For others, it's a day to watch massive balloons float through New York City in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. But for animal lovers like me, Thanksgiving is the day we curl up in front of the television and watch the National Dog Show. Now in its 18th year, photos from previous years' National Dog Show make it clear this annual event has a long history of introducing families to adorable competitors of all sizes and breeds.
This year (much like previous years), more than 2,000 dogs are set to compete for titles like Best of Breed, First in Group, and Best in Show in the Kennel Club of Philadelphia's National Dog Show Presented By Purina. All of the dogs that compete are sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, which simply means they're purebred pups who have been officially recognized and registered with the American Kennel Club.
While this year's National Dog Show has technically already happened (no spoilers hers), NBC won't air it until noon on Thanksgiving Day. Until then, here are 20 photos of dogs strutting their stuff in previous years National Dog Show competitions:
Ain't Nothing But A Hound Dog
Although short-legged, Basset Hounds have a sense of smell that's second only the Bloodhounds. This dapper dog was spotted competing at the National Dog Show in 2008.
And The Winner Is...
A Pointer named Holly took home the title of Best in Show in 2008. According to People, Holly holds 116 Best in Show titles in total, making her the "winningest Sporting Dog in history."
"Give 'Em The Old Razzle Dazzle"
A member of the non-sporting group, Kepley's Showbiz Razzle Dazzle, or Uli for short, takes their turn in the rink at the 2009 National Dog Show.
Step Into The Winner's Circle
A Wire Fox Terrier named Sky excitedly greeted judges when they were named Best in Show at the 2012 National Dog Show.
A Poodle Pampering Parlor
A pack of poodles are groomed for competition by their respective owners at the 12th Annual National Dog Show in 2013.
Tricks Of The Trade
At the 12th Annual National Dog Show in 2013, one poodle was spotted relaxing on a rounded pillow as their owner fixed them a lovely top knot.
Long Hair, Short Hair, Curly Or Straight
Of course, poodles weren't the only breeds getting pampered at the 12th annual National Dog Show in 2013. Every dog had their hair or fur brushed, combed, and in some cases curled, to ensure they were looking their best.
So Many Spots
A group of spotted pups (perhaps Great Danes) awaits their turn to compete at the National Dog Show in 2013.
Fun & Games
Some dogs showed off a few tricks, like this pup who caught flying frisbees, at the 12th Annual National Dog Show in 2013.
A Boxer goes in for a quick cuddle with their owner while waiting backstage at the National Dog Show in 2013.
Yes, There's A Dog Under That Mop
A mop-like Komondor struts his stuff in the Working Group while competing at the 2013 National Dog Show. Weighing in at 80 to 100 pounds or more, a Komondor makes an excellent livestock guardian, according to the American Kennel Club.
Nathan, the 2014 National Dog Show champion, returned to the competition in 2015 to assist hosts David Frei and John O'Hurley. At one point, the Bloodhound planted a sweet kiss on Frei.
In 2016, a Pekingese named Chuck competed at The National Dog Show (he's under all that hair, somewhere). According to the American Kennel Club, Pekingese were initially bred for the ruling classes of ancient China. It comes as no surprise then that this breed of toy dog is known to have a regal manner.
A Shaven Showstopper
While some competitors, like this Chinese Crested spotted at the National Dog Show in 2016, may have less fur and hair to groom than others, they're still showstoppers in the rink
When A Unicorn Becomes A Poodle
The owner of a Standard Poodle uses a few grooming tricks while preparing her pup for the National Dog Show in 2016.
A Puli Pup
A Puli takes a lap around the show ring at the 2017 National Dog Show. Mop jokes aside, Pulis are agile herders covered in naturally occurring cords, according to the American Kennel Club.
The Goodest Dog
In 2017, a lovable Golden Retriever stopped to show his handler some appreciation while at the National Dog Show.
All Dressed Up
A Saint Bernard named Doc Holiday aimed to impress his fellow dogs by wearing his best bowtie while waiting backstage at the National Dog Show in 2018. Was he hoping to make new friends or simply psyche out the competition?
If You've Got It, Flaunt It
An all-white Long Coat Chihuahua prances across the ring with a perfect poof tail at the National Dog Show in 2018. They know they've got it.
One talented pup shows off how high they can jump by leaping over their handler to catch a frisbee during the Freestyle Flying Disc Demonstration at the 2018 National Dog Show.
While not every dog who competes can be crowned a National Dog Show champ, I'm inclined to say that all these pups are winners in my book.