World Pup competition

The World Cup kicks off Thursday in Brazil — but a much furrier challenge has our attention: Animal Planet’s first World Pup competition.

You don’t get to decide who wins in the famed single-elimination soccer tournament, but you do get to vote when it comes to choosing the World Pup! This is Animal Planet’s answer to the World Cup, much like its popular Puppy Bowl is its Super Bowl.

“The World Cup is so exciting because tens of millions of people from around the world watch in anticipation of their country’s performance and pin their hopes and dreams to the outcome,” Miguel Monteverde, Animal Planet’s vice president of digital media, told “We thought ‘Why just soccer? Why not puppies?’”

In the online competition, viewers can root for dog breeds representing 16 countries. One will eventually become the Top Dog.

The first four matchups include Spain’s Great Pyrenees vs. Netherlands’ Keeshond; Cameroon’s Basenji vs. Mexico’s Chihuahua; Germany’s Dachshund vs. Portugal’s Portuguese Water Dog; and England’s Old English Sheepdog vs. Italy’s Italian Greyhound. Each round lasts for a week.

You can watch a series of videos about each breed and fill out brackets with your favorites — or use each dog’s hashtag on Twitter to cast your vote. Of course, you can base your support on your allegiance to a country or a breed — although we're pulling for the most adorable pups.

Once you've filled out your brackets, keep watching the competition to see which pup brings home the coveted trophy on July 10.

And between rounds, you can get your puppy fix with the network’s live puppy cam, where the pups are playing with soccer balls!

Live video by Animal Planet L!ve