Jumpabola Pragmatic

Dogs to compete for top surfer title

Dogs from across San Diego County are getting ready for the annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon on Sunday to show their prowess catching the waves riding a surfboard.

Following tradition, dozens of pooches will gather at Del Mar Dog Beach and head for the water where they’ll compete for the Top Dog title. Winners are chosen based on how well they ride the waves and stay on their boards.

The 17th annual contest, which was one of the first of its kind, is organized by the Helen Woodward Animal Center to raise money for the Rancho Santa Fe-based nonprofit’s programs, which go far beyond its pet adoption services.

Helen Woodward Animal Center's annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon

Helen Woodward Animal Center’s annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon also includes a Canine Costume Contest.

(Courtesy of Helen Woodward Animal Center)

A kickoff ceremony for Remember Me Thursday Week starts at 8 a.m. on the sand to honor shelter pets who never got adopted. The nonprofit’s global campaign Remember Me Thursday, which increases awareness about the importance of pet adoption to reduce euthanasia, will be held Sept. 22.

After the ceremony, canine contestants surf in 10-minute heats judged by a panel of surf pros and aficionados. Contestants will be judged on the length of their ride, wave technique, enthusiasm and confidence on the board. First-, second- and third-place winners will be awarded for each weight class, and the first-place winners move on to the finals — the Best in Surf contest, where they compete for the title of Top Dog. More than 70 dogs are expected to compete.

Dogs and their canine buddies or human friends can also join the Freestyle Surf Contest where points are awarded for creativity. The contest, often a favorite with spectators, includes tandem rides along with tricks and costumes to impress the judges.

The family-friendly event includes a Canine Costume Contest with the theme “Sporting Legends,” live beach music and a free children’s area with crafts and games. The “BARKet Place” features exhibitor booths with pet products and local businesses handing out giveaways. There will be a free agility course for dogs to try out, sponsored by San Diego Pet Training, along with an awards ceremony.

The surf competition, presented by Blue Buffalo from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Del Mar Dog Beach is free to attend. Event parking is offered for a $20 donation at the corner of Border Avenue and Via De La Valle and Highway 101.

The Freestyle Heats starting at 10:30 a.m. and the Best in Surf around 12:50 p.m. will be livestreamed at and @HWAC on Instagram.

Surf contest fee is $60 (registration closes Wednesday) and Canine Costume Contest, $15 (day-of entrants welcome). Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon T-Shirt is $20.

For more information or to register, visit or call (858) 756-4117, ext. 362.