The competition will be ‘ruff’ at this year’s National Dog Show Presented by Purina, which airs on Thanksgiving Day at 12 p.m. ET. More than 2,000 dogs are in the running for the title of Best in Show, in an event co-host John O’Hurley calls “a perfect piece of programming on the great family day of the year,” he told PEOPLE Now on Wednesday.
“I just love it — it’s the greatest day of the year,” he said. His favorite part? Wandering the benches before show time, meeting the furry competitors. “It’s the most adorable, important part of the show for me,” he said, “being with the people and dogs.”
While O’Hurley’s favorite breed is the Irish setter — “It’s that auburn hair against the blue carpeting, and it owns the room,” he said — his longtime co-host David Frei handicapped this year’s top three dogs to watch in a recent issue of PEOPLE.
A New York City native, the male French bulldog (official name: Haloridge Cruisin the Open Sea) was Best of Breed at 2017’s Westminster Dog Show — and will likely be a fan favorite, too.
Connecticut-based Cerise Blindside was first runner-up at last year’s National Dog Show and is the No. 1 English springer spaniel in the country.
Nicknamed for Downton Abbey’s Anna Bates, Windborn Starline Heiress is a whippet from Modesto, California, who has 16 Best in Show wins under her (skinny) belt.
Catch the National Dog Show Presented by Purina on NBC today, Thanksgiving Day, immediately following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And find out how you can help dogs affected by this year’s hurricanes by reading our pre-show chat with Andy Cohen.