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Mutt Madness 2024


An illustration of a black and white dog balancing a basketball on its nose, above the words Mutt Madness

We’re rooting for dogs—all day, every day. So when we took a look at this year’s top NCAA teams, we wanted to know which teams were the most dog-friendly. Get ready for… Mutt Madness!

We dug into Embark’s database of over 2 million dogs to see what the dogs from each state represented in the tournament could tell us about their teams and mascots.

State matchups

We pitted 16 teams against each other to see which team reigns supreme by having the most Embarked dogs in their state. How does your team stack up?

  1. UConn vs San Diego
    San Diego wins with over 195,000 Embarked dogs in California!
  2. Illinois vs Iowa State
    Illinois wins with over 55,000 Embarked dogs!
  3. North Carolina vs Alabama
    North Carolina wins with over 50,000 Embarked dogs!
  4. Clemson vs Arizona
    Arizona wins with over 40,000 Embarked dogs!
  5. Houston vs Duke
    Houston wins with over 120,000 Embarked dogs in Texas!
  6. NC State vs Marquette
    NC State wins with over 50,000 Embark dogs in North Carolina!
  7. Purdue vs Gonzaga
    Gonzaga wins with over 55,000 dogs in Washington!
  8. Creighton vs Tennessee
    Tennessee wins with over 30,000 Embarked dogs!

Mascot matchups

We also compared the mascots from some of the top teams to see which ones have the most popular dog names. Do you recognize your team’s mascot?

Keep reading to see which teams came out on top!

A graphic showing 1,110 dogs named Otto, 523 dogs named Ralphie, 497 dogs named Spike, 334 dogs named Gator.
A graphic showing 311 dogs named Tiger, 30 dogs named Sparty, 21 dogs named Eagle, 19 dogs named Jonathan
A graphic showing 10 dogs named Big Al, 5 dogs named Wildcat, 2 dogs named Blue Devil, 2 dogs named Jayhawk


How many of these teams did you recognize?

  1. 1,110 dogs named Otto (the Orange), mascot for Syracuse University
  2. 523 dogs named Ralphie (the Buffalo), mascot for the University of Colorado
  3. 497 dogs named Spike (the Bulldog), mascot for Gonzaga University
  4. 334 dogs named Gator, mascot for the University of Florida
  5. 311 dogs named Tiger, mascot for Clemson University
  6. 30 dogs named Sparty (the Spartan), mascot for Michigan State University
  7. 21 dogs named Eagle (Golden Eagle), mascot for Marquette University
  8. 19 dogs named Jonathan (the Husky), mascot for the University of Connecticut
  9. 10 dogs named Big Al, mascot for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide
  10. 5 dogs named Wildcat, mascot for the University of Kentucky
  11. 2 dogs named Blue Devil, mascot for Duke University
  12. 2 dogs named Jayhawk, mascot for the University of Kansas

Underdog stories

Remember when Oakland upset Kentucky? This year’s tournament had some surprising upsets, which got us thinking about some of our favorite underdogs. We asked you to share your pup’s underdog story and were flooded with incredible stories about the dogs in your lives. (We’re not going to lie — we got teary reading through the amazing stories you all shared with us!)

Check out a few of those Embark Underdogs. They’ve survived incredible odds to become our favorite Cinderella stories:


picture of holly, an underdog

“Holly has beaten cancer THREE times. One of which resulted in her losing her leg 7 years ago, but that hasn’t stopped her! She was adopted in 2017 after 2 separate owners gave her up (1 of which shot her twice). She had a large tumor behind her front left leg that resulted in it being amputated. Fast forward seven years and she is more loved than ever! She’s had 2 other types of cancer. She had bloat which required emergency life saving surgery in 2021. And she just had eye surgery, but my girl is resilient. In my eyes, she’s the true underdog who perseveres everyday” (@hollythetripawd)


picture of murphy, an underdog

“Our boy was found behind a dumpster with a giant abscess on his neck and was severely underweight weighing roughly 12 lbs. Whoever found him got in touch with a rescue and they got him the medical attention needed. He went on to live with a foster to recover. His foster was my coworker and she brought him to meet me. One snuggle was all I needed. We adopted him from the rescue in February of 2023 and thought he was possibly a Cockapoo but wanted to find out for sure so we sent his DNA to Embark. Turns out he is an F1B Bernedoodle and now weighs 80 lbs!!! He’s a wicked smart giant doof and we love him to pieces!” (@tonireffner)


picture of Bula, and Underdog

“I was a stray on Mana Island, Fiji, days away from starvation, full of ticks, fleas and belly worms. Gail found me while travelling and through friends and family was able to get me off the island, to a vet, and on multiple planes until I got back home to Ontario, Canada. I was three months old and 8lbs. I’m now almost 5 months old and weigh 28lbs. I’m still showing signs of early malnutrition from my puppy days but my legs are better, I’m no longer limping, and I have the energy of a puppy again. Gail was not expecting to bring home a puppy, but she knew I needed her.” (@bula_the_rescue_dog)


picture of chica, an embark underdog

“I found Chica in Ponce Puerto Rico on February 20, 2024. I was there for a total of 5 days to visit a friend. On the way home from brunch the day after I arrived I saw a little brown mangy thing from the corner of my eye, with no hesitation I stoped the car. As I walked over I saw her, all mangy with a distended belly, scared and alone. As I took her into my beach towel my friend searched for the rest of the litter with no other dogs in sight. After about 10 minutes of trying to figure out what to do I called my family told them I found a dog that I refused to leave. Within the hour she was at the vets and getting dewormed and fed. The next day barely 6 week old Chica had her flight certificate and was ready to come back to Florida with me. It’s now March 28th and she is officially Mange, worm, ear infection and UTI free. A foster failure turned happily ever after” (@mangy_mutt_peewee)


picture of nymeria, an underdog

“Rescued Nymeria (a low content wolfdog) at age 2 and she was diagnosed w EPI, severe bilateral hip dysplasia, & severe arthritis. She wasn’t supposed to live past 5 or maintain mobility, but now she’s 7 & still running round as happy and crazy as ever. She was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder but isn’t letting it slow her down in the slightest” (@katieandthewolves)

Can’t get enough underdogs? Meet Goudacris. This special rescue dog survived a months-long battle with heartworm, tested with Embark, and ended up finding his forever family. Read more about Goudacris’ story.

Get started with Embark

If you enjoyed our Mutt Madness tournament, take the next step towards knowing your dog better with the dog DNA test trusted by millions of dog owners.

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Interested in more dog data from Embark? Read about the most popular dog names or the most cuddly dog breeds, or create your own tournament at home by teaching your dog how to play basketball.

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