Every year, camera shutters and flashes fill Petaluma, California to take the picture of a dog, but not just any dog… Rather… Cue the horns, drums and howls… “The Ugliest Dog Of The World “.
This title of “World’s Ugliest Dog” is awarded to the winner of the contest, which gathers the least charming candidates from the canine population since its creation in the seventies as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair’s program.
Thanks to the positive public response as well as to the collaboration of animal shelters and associations defending animal rights, this annual contest has taken place every year since 2009, promoting the adoption of pets looking for their perfect match.
Animal Planet broadcasts the show, which gained popularity through the years, and sponsors the event that hosts more and more visitors and participants every year. The contest currently counts with roughly 30 candidates, arriving from different corners of the world to eagerly showcase their unusual beauty.
The grand prize consists of $ 1,500, a year’s supply in dog treats, a VIP stay at a luxurious Petaluma hotel for the winner and his family, as well as a glamourous photoshoot (CLICK!).
Beauty contests have traditionally been a door to access the world of celebrities, and this is no exception. The winners attend different events, sit for interviews, participate in tv shows and, in some cases, even star in movies.
During the last few years, social media and groups where pet & dog lovers gather contributed to quickly spreading the news, making canine superstars of these pups on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Mugly, for example, a Chinese Crested who traveled all the way from England to win the contest in 2012 became was the first to immediately transform into a celebrity with his own webpage, more than 3,000 Facebook friends and more than 1,000 followers on Twitter.
Careful though, because being crowned the World’s Ugliest Dog is not an easy feat, as this is not a mere talent contest. To reach the top of the podium, the contestants must not only demonstrate how ugly they are, but also their pride in being so, in a quirky way. They must exhibit, on stage, that strange characteristic that makes them unique just like Walle did, who despite joining the contest at the last minute convinced the jury that he deserved to win in 2013. Walle, a mix of Boxer, Beagle and Basset, and the owner of a strangely proportioned body, captivated the judges with his oddly funny way of walking. Walle broke through the monopoly set by the Chihuahuas and the Chinese Crested, the two breeds sharing all recent previous victories. Quasi Modo, whose name refers to the unfortunate character created by Victor Hugo, followed the steps of Walle and won the prize in 2015. During his victorious appearance at the contest, he showed that beauty is clearly in the eyes of the beholder.
Martha, a three-years-old Neapolitan Mastiff was crowned 2017’s World’s Ugliest Dog. She was almost blind when she was rescued by her owner Shirley Zindler. The pooch captivated the judges by plunging all her 125 pounds onto the Petaluma stage.