World's Ugliest Dog Contest
The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is an annual contest held in Petaluma, California, as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, to decide which of the dogs entered in the contest is the ugliest. The contest, along with the rest of the fair, is typically scheduled for the fourth week of June. Along with the title of “The World’s Ugliest Dog”, the winner’s owner receives a check for $1,000 and a trophy. There is significant media coverage, and as many as 2,000-3,000 people attend the contest during the fair each year. The fair now holds an all-day Dog Lovers' Festival preceding the evening contest.
Animal Planet has sponsored the event and broadcast the show on television for several years. In the 2009 contest, the event included celebrity judges such as Jon Provost ("Timmy" on the 1950s television show Lassie) as well as an Ugly is the New Beautiful Fashion Show featuring models and adoptable rescue dogs. Hosts rotate each year. In 2013, syndicated radio hosts Bob & Sheri hosted the show. Dog owners must provide documentation of veterinarian checks to determine the competing animal is healthy. The Sonoma-Marin Fair has also partnered with animal rights groups such as the Sonoma County Humane Society to educate the public about animals and to provide opportunities to adopt rescue dogs. The fair issues a photo of the winner, a press release summing up the contest, and YouTube video within hours of the contest conclusion. Contestants for each new year are featured on the website before the contest as well in the World's Ugliest Dog Voting Gallery.
Dogs generally come from across the United States but are welcome to enter from around the world. In contrast to conformation shows (which are restricted to purebreds), mutts are allowed to participate. The 2012 winner was Mugly from the United Kingdom, the first dog from outside the United States to win. The 2002 winner and now a “Ring of Champions” holder is Rascal, owned by actor Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, California. The winner of the 2007 World’s Ugliest Dog was Elwood, a Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mixed-breed dog owned by Karen Quigley, a resident of Sewell, New Jersey. 2008’s winner was also a Chinese Crested, Jeanenne Teed’s hairless, three-legged, one-eyed Gus. The 2009 winner was Pabst, a boxer mix owned by Miles Egstad of Citrus Heights, California who ended the seven-year reign held by the Chinese Crested breed. Pabst also won a year-long modeling contract from sponsor House of Dog in addition to dog bling.
The contest has been going on since the 1970s. In 2009 the Sonoma-Marin Fair trademarked the phrase World's Ugliest Dog. In 2013, the contest celebrates its 25th anniversary as a fair-produced event. A 25th-anniversary book, World's Ugliest Dogs: The Official World's Ugliest Dog Contest Book" which provides "Canine proof that ugly is the new beautiful, was published in June 2013 by Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot, with text by the contest's producer of seven years, Vicki DeArmon, and photos by photographers who have covered the contest over the years for the fair.
2000 and 2001
The 2000 and 2001 competitions were won by Nana, whose owner never disclosed the breed, she would say that it was a “Canardly” as in “you can'ardly tell”, indicating it was most likely a mutt. Nana died later that year.
Rascal, a 7 lb. Chinese Crested owned by actor Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, California won the coveted title in 2002 and is now in “The Ring of Champions”. Rascal has gone on to set history by winning the 2008 Oldest Ugly Dog Contest in Fort Bragg, the Tim Downs Ugly Dog Contest in 2008, the 2009 Ugly Dog Contest first place in Highland, and the 2009 Regal Cinemas "Hotel For Dogs" Ugly Dog Contest in Florida. As of June 2010, he has won ten Ugly Dog contests. Rascal was so ugly that Jay Leno put him on The Tonight Show before he had ever even won, and now he has been cast in four horror movies, seen on The View, Last Call with Carson Daly, and The Insider. He was featured in People magazine, Hello, Star, and has his own leash line, cartoon strip, and documentary (forthcoming), the proceeds of which go to animal charities.
Rascal is a direct descendent of Chi Chi, who won more World's Ugliest Dog titles than any other dog in history, putting him in the Guinness Book of World Records with 8 wins.
Sam, a blind Chinese Crested dog from Santa Barbara, California, was voted the world's ugliest dog three times in a row, from 2003 through 2005. He died in November 2005, bringing an end to his three-year reign.
Scandal erupted during the 2006 World's Ugliest Dog Contest when an as yet unidentified person gained unauthorized electronic access to the contest's internet voting page and deleted 40,000 votes from then leader "Pee Wee", son of "Sam", and 30,000 votes from second-place "Victoria", according to marketing director Vicki DeArmon. To rectify the situation, fair officials decided to completely restart internet voting on May 22, 2006. The official winner, Archie, was selected by a panel of judges on June 23, 2006. Archie died July 2008.
The winner of the 2007 World's Ugliest Dog competition was a Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mixed-breed dog named Elwood, who had placed second the previous year. Rascal, who won the 2002 title, became the Ugliest Dog on the West Coast. With the loss of Archie and Elwood, Rascal is the only dog alive to be "Ring of Champions" World's Ugliest Dog. Most of the competitors in the competition were also Chinese Crested, because the breed can exhibit exaggerated traits like a mohawk, bug eyes, and a long, wagging tongue. Elwood died at the age of 8 on November 28, 2013.
The 2008 World's Ugliest Dog competition was won by a Chinese Crested dog named Gus. Eleven dogs took part in the competition.
Rascal, the 2002 World's Ugliest Dog and Ring of Champions holder, won the World's Oldest Ugly Dog Contest in Fort Bragg, California on August 30, 2008, making him the only dog to win both top titles.
Pabst, a boxer mix owned by Miles Egstad of Citrus Heights, California, won the 2009 World's Ugliest Dog competition; Miss Ellie, a blind 16-year-old Chinese Crested Hairless, won in the pedigree category; Pabst beat her in a run-off for the overall title.
Miss Ellie died June 1, 2010, at the age of 17.
Princess Abby, a chihuahua with "a hunched and peculiar walk due to that her back legs are longer than her front (which allows her to have moments of bipedalism), a missing eye, and mismatched ears", won the 2010 contest out of a field of 25 dogs. Despite being a rescue dog, she was entered in the pedigree division.
Yoda, a previously abandoned 14-year-old Chinese Crested-Chihuahua mix with a malformed nose, "short tufts of hair, protruding tongue, and long, seemingly hairless legs", won the 2011 contest. The dog is from Hanford, California, and is owned by dog groomer Terry Schumacher.
Yoda died in her sleep at her home in Hanford, California on March 10, 2012. She was 15.
In 2013 Walle, a four-year-old "huge-headed, duck-footed mix of beagle, boxer and basset hound" from Chico, California beat 29 other contenders to win the contest. The dog's owner, Tammie Barbee, entered the dog into the contest at the last minute.
The 2014 contest was won by Peanut (alternately named Opossum), a 2-year-old mutt believed to be a mix of Chihuahua and Shih Tzu. Peanut is owned by Holly Chandler of Greenville, North Carolina. In contrast to most of the contestants, Peanut's physical deformities, which include deformed lips and eyelids (which give the dog the appearance of a perpetual growl) and significant loss of hair, were a result of being abused as a puppy; Chandler rescued the dog from an animal hospital.
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- Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds - World's Ugliest Dog Contest Official Page