Puppy Bowl X Preview: Designer Dogs, Penguin Cheerleaders and Fantasy Four-Legged Football

4:05 PM PST 01/17/2014 by Debbie Emery
Keith Barraclough/Animal Planet
Ginger, a 12-week-old Old English Sheep Dog

Water bowls are filled and collars are polished -- the puppies are ready to play as Animal Planet reveals the adorable bundles of fur taking the field for Puppy Bowl X on Feb. 2.

For football fans and dog lovers alike, the Puppy Bowl is the biggest TV event of the year on four paws -- and this year's lineup will not disappoint.

While last year's event featured prickly hedgehog cheerleaders, Puppy Bowl X's players will be supported by flippered fans as penguins offer their support.

Aptly enough, there will also be Meep the Bird "tweeting" his commentary (follow him on Twitter: @MeepTheBird), the Bissel Kitten halftime show and a piggy pep squad.

PHOTOS: The Puppy Bowl X Starting Lineup

Entering the gridiron on Sunday, Feb. 2, is a colorful team featuring tackling terriers, dynamic dalmatians, speedy spaniels and even a Bernedoodle -- which is a designer mix between a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle.

From Brody the American Eskimo to Lily the Basset Hound, meet all the players here.

With fantasy football being one of the most popular activities during the regular NFL season, Puppy Bowl fanatics can now create their own fantasy team of four-legged players by drafting the dogs with the best skills and then sharing it on Facebook.

STORY: Kitten Bowl Coming to Hallmark Channel in 2014

The event has come a long way since it first premiered in 2003 with a rambunctious pack of puppies running wildly around with no commentary, rules and certainly no cheerleaders flapping about. Even that mutt-induced mayhem brought in 5.6 million viewers, according to AdAge.com.

Last year, the 12-hour canine extravaganza lured in over 12 million people (with an average of 2.6 million people during its initial two-hour run) and lucrative advertisers such as Geico, Warner Bros., Walt Disney and Sheba cat food, which is sponsoring the VIP feline suite.

To honor Super Bowl XLVIII's unique location in New York, Animal Planet is creating a "Puppy Bowl Experience" the week before the game at the Discovery Times Square museum and exhibition space in Manhattan. The 15,000-square-foot area will include puppies to play with, a recreated set and booths for sponsors to interact with fans.

STORY: Nat Geo Wild Airing Fish Bowl on Super Bowl Sunday

Animal Planet will face some added competition for ratings this year from both the Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl -- an agility competition that will include an obstacle course of hurdles of varying heights, A-frame Alpine scratchers, tunnels, hoop jumps and weave poles -- and the Fish Bowl, airing on Nat Geo Wild and featuring a scaly star named Goldie.

The Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl kicks off on Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. ET, while the Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl airs at 9 a.m. PT that same day. The Fish Bowl swims to TV screens later that night from 6 to 10 p.m. ET on Nat Geo Wild.

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