‘Pooch Perfect’ among latest breed of dog-friendly TV shows

‘Pooch Perfect’ among latest breed of dog-friendly TV shows

Bow-wow! TV has gone to the dogs. Following last year’s rise in pet adoptions amid a global pandemic, an increase in canine content means a treat for viewers. 

ABC’s high-stakes grooming competition “Pooch Perfect” (Tuesdays, 8 EDT/PDT), premiered last week, joining HBO Max’s “Haute Dog” and Netflix’s “Canine Intervention.” Netflix’s “Pet Stars,” which features Insta-famous pooches, premieres later this month. 

While these programs may be the latest litter, they, of course, aren’t the first wave of dog shows. “Pit Bulls & Parolees” which premiered in 2009, returned with new episodes Saturday on Discovery Channel. Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl” takes place on Super Bowl Sunday. 

On “Pooch Perfect,” Actress Rebel Wilson (“Pitch Perfect”) hosts and reality star Lisa Vanderpump is one of three judges who evaluate the groomers facing off for a $100,000 cash prize. Veterinarian Callie Harris and groomer Jorge Bendersky round out the judges’ panel.  

Vanderpump, a restaurateur who also is also co-founder of rescue-focused Vanderpump Dog Foundation, relished her “Pooch Perfect” role.

She spent time with the animals, which she describes as “the supermodels of dogs,” and sometimes found it impossible to keep her paws off them. “I would sometimes jump across the judging table and get my hands on them,” she says. “Everybody there was for the love of dogs, so that was a really beautiful thing.”

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Reality star and restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump thoroughly enjoyed her time as judge on ABC's dog grooming competition, "Pooch Perfect." (Photo: Christopher Willard/ABC)

But not everyone is so convinced. Lauren Thomasson, PETA’s senior manager of animals in film and television, slammed the show as “inhumane and self-indulgent” in an emailed statement to USA TODAY, condemning the grooming process. Thomasson speculates the animals had to “stand stock-still for four or more hours while two strangers clipped, ‘carved,’ pulled, sprayed, and pasted their fur and otherwise messed with them. If ABC wants a beauty pageant, it should stick to willing adult human participants and leave dogs alone.”

Vanderpump says the show is for the whole family. “The kids will be fascinated by the dogs and just how creative these people are, and it’s kind of funny, as well as beautiful,” she says. “It’s got a real feel-good factor, and that’s what we need right now.”

Other shows that might be paw-fect for you:

“Haute Dog” (HBO Max)

“Haute Dog” is a similar grooming competition that debuted in September, with the remainder of its 12-episode first season released in February. Three groomers throw down for a $10,000 cash prize, with new contestants in each episode. After two rounds, someone is crowned “Best in Show” and walks away with the cash. Comedian Matt Rogers hosts this fun series; Robin Thede (“A Black Lady Sketch Show”) and dog stylist Jess Rona are judges.

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“Pet Stars” (Netflix)

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“Pet Stars” (streaming on Netflix April 30)  is centered on the Pets on Q talent agency, a company that represents animal influencers with large social-media followings. In the series premiere, we meet Pets on Q founder and CEO Colleen Wilson and her deaf Dalmatian, Charlie. Wilson is on her way to an ugliest dog contest to – paws crossed – secure some new clients. 

“Canine Intervention” (Netflix)

Dog trainer Jas Leverette says in his touching Netflix series released in February, “It’s never the dog’s fault; it’s always human error.” The owner of the Bay Area-based California K9 Solutions helps train dogs and provide their owners with the tools to be a better pup parent. In each of the six episodes, Leverette tackles dogs’ challenging behavior issues.

As Leverette reveals in the series premiere, training dogs is a career performed from the heart. A dog that needs to be rehabbed for its aggressive behavior reminds Leverette of his childhood pup. “I would say he was 95% perfect, but that little 5% tipped him over the edge, and he killed a dog,” shared Leverette, who takes the blame for the incident. “This was something that probably could’ve been fixed, but I just didn’t know how to do it at the time,” he said. The dog had to be put down. For Leverette, “It was a lesson that I’ll take to the grave.”

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