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Gather the family, grab the chips and dip and cheer loudly for the biggest canine game of the year. It's guaranteed to be fun, exciting and packed full of "ruff" action. Get ready for Puppy Bowl IX!

Animal Planet's annual two-hour special, taped in November, features 60 of the cutest and cuddliest puppies from animal shelters. There will be lots of first downs and tackles among this group of beagles, terriers, and spaniels--all of whom are available for adoption.

For its ninth year of furry football, Puppy Bowl producers made some new additions including a cheering squad (hedgehog cheerleaders!) and a hot tub for pups to rest and recover after play.

"I'm excited about the hedgehog cheerleaders," executive producer Melinda Toporof says. "They are feistier than we expected. We thought they'd roll up into a ball, but they are really moving around!"

No Puppy Bowl is without a foul. Referee Dan Schachner steps in when there's dog poop on the miniature-sized field and unnecessary "ruff-ness." Schachner even blows his whistle for "excessive cuteness."

Watch out for Biscuit, a potential MVP contender. "He's tiny but rambunctious," Schachner says. "He's tough against the bigger dogs."

While Beyonce headlines the Super Bowl's halftime performance, the Puppy Bowl's intermission will be a puurrr-fect mid-game break with its kitten show.

See who will be named top dog on Sunday, February 3. For now, check out the line up.

Text: Christina Tapper
Photo: Photos Courtesy of Discovery Channel and Animal Planet

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