This article was produced in partnership with HBO Max.
If you’re not out skijoring or braving slick sidewalks for your dog’s daily walk, chances are you and the pup are pretty into snuggling up on the sofa right now. But with so many shows out there, which ones should you queue up for your next streaming session? Enter HBO Max!
Loaded with award-winning shows and movies, the new streaming platform has not one, but two Max Original shows, combining our favorite things: dogs and binge-able reality television. And though both dog shows are decidedly canine-centric, each has its own distinct pawsonality: Haute Dog looks into the fascinating world of dog grooming, while The Dog House: UK explores stories of the pets and people involved at a very special dog rescue in England.
So grab your dog and your remote, and dive into these fun episodes that shine a light on why life with dogs is such a treat.
The Basics: Comedian Matt Rogers hosts this delightful half-hour dog grooming competition show, which features three groomers, competing in two rounds, to win Best in Show (i.e. a $10,000 prize). The first challenge, Mystery Pet, focuses on techniques for a specific breed, while the second, The Mane Event, plays off a creative theme. Judged by actor, comedian, and dog lover Robin Thede, as well as famed dog stylist, Jess Rona, laughs, and puns, abound on this good-natured reality competition show that knows how to spot a good cut without cutting down the competition. Find all six episodes of the first season streaming on HBO Max.
Why We Love It:
- The world is mean enough, so it’s nice to watch a reality show that fosters friendly competition without taking itself too seriously.
- Though you come to expect it each episode, Rogers’ gag of offering the Mystery Pet challenge-winning dog the choice between a dog treat or a luxury vacation, vehicle, etc., resulting in a treat every time, is pretty darn funny.
- Just like the best competition shows we know and love, half the fun of Haute Dog is the creativity and seeing what people can come up with in a limited time span. Stenciling a scene into a dog’s fur with paint? Who knew, right? The techniques and outside the box creative skills make it a fun watch for novices and experts alike.
- The people! Rogers, Thede, and Rona are clearly having fun and play off each other well, and there’s a sense of good groomsmanship amongst the competitors, many of whom reveal interesting backstories, such as being a second-generation dog groomer or specializing in grooming dogs with special needs.
- The dogs! Not only do we love a makeover, but the audience is introduced to several cuties who go from adorable to more adorable. Plus, the audience learns some fun facts about dog breed origins and some do’s and don’ts around grooming different types of dog hair.
Favorite Episodes: Season 1, Episode 5, “Where the Wild Things Bark.” The Mane Event challenge is to create a grooming look inspired by another animal. This is where the groomers really shine and, in particular, we can’t get over Anais’ rainbow, cotton candy-themed looks, which made us want to run out and turn our dogs into a Lisa Frank dream puppy. Another can’t miss episode is Season 1, Episode 3, “Rescue Paw-ty.” When it comes to putting rescue dogs in the spotlight, we are here for it! Not only did the episode go into why you should never buy from a puppy mill, but we loved how each competitor showed their rescue dog clients extra care. We learn that competitor, Brian T., donates his time to grooming rescue dogs, and his dedication really tugged at our heartstrings. We also couldn’t help but burst into applause when it was revealed each groomer would get bonus prize money to donate to their favorite dog charity.
The Basics: Picture a matchmaking program, but for shelter dogs and potential dog owners. Centered at Wood Green, an animal rescue located about a half-hour outside Cambridge, England, each episode delves into the backgrounds of three families (ranging in size from singles to multi-child households) who are eager to add a dog to their life. Learn the backstories about the dogs cared for at Wood Green, and witness first meetings between potential dog and human matches. Each 45-minute episode also features an epilogue, following up to see if the match was truly a winner. Find all eight episodes of the first season streaming on HBO Max.
Why We Love It:
- Dog matchmaking is just as complex as the world of dating, and just as interesting to watch! Viewers will find themselves invested in the “will they or won’t they?” of the storyline.
- The candid commentary from the Wood Green staff nicely weaves all the pieces of the show together. Whether funny or heartbreaking, the staff’s thoughts and observations bridge the dog’s backstories with how potential pet parents can find joy and healing in dog companionship.
- For a show about dogs, it’s very much about people and finding family in a four-legged friend. Whether someone has lost a spouse, is starting over again after surviving illness, or looking for a way to bring their human family together, the show provides an empathetic lens on the human experience.
- You can’t help but root for every dog that is introduced. Even if they’re overly hyper. Even if they’re a bit naughty. Even if they don’t put their best paw forward at their first people meet and greet. Dogs of varying breeds and backgrounds are featured and you’ll find yourself jumping for joy when a dog and potential human match share a spark.
- The show doesn’t shy away from sad truths. Not all matches are happy endings. Some of the pairings simply don’t work out in the long term and it helps keep the expectations of the viewer grounded in reality. After all, not all partnerships are meant to be, and, sometimes, a failed match makes room for the right match later down the line—just like with people.
Favorite Episodes: Honestly, each episode is filled with relatable people, thoughtful observations on the human and dog connection, high stakes meet and greets, funny asides and behaviors, and moving backstories, that a favorite seems impossible to choose! But a story in Season 1, Episode 3 that’s particularly moving is the connection made between a six-and-a-half-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier (a favorite breed amongst the staff) named Casper, who is brought to Wood Green by social services after accidentally biting an owner in the midst of a domestic abuse situation, and a recently single woman named Lesley who is looking for a fresh start, living life on the road and wanting an adventure companion. A former nurse from New Zealand, Lesley’s likewise tragic and misunderstood past eventually comes to light. It’s the perfect example of how dogs and people can help heal one another and move forward from devastating personal histories.
Start Streaming HBO Max Now
You can find all the titles above—along with over 10,000 hours of other entertainment options—streaming on HBO Max this season on your tablet, phone, watch, laptop, e-reader, and other devices. Offer valid from December 3, 2020 to January 15, 2021. Terms and conditions apply. For complete details, including eligibility restrictions and auto-renewal terms that apply after your discounted subscription period expires, visit HBOMax.com.Start Streaming HBO Max Now