World’s “Ugliest” Dog is a Real Cutie

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

We're loving these winning underdogs who show beauty is more than skin-deep.

Photo Credit: stockelements /

Things got pretty ugly in California’s world-renowned wine region this month. Actually, things have been getting pretty ugly in the picture-perfect town of Petaluma for over 50 years now. And it has nothing to do with a bad vintage.

You see, the town is home to the highly popular “World’s Ugliest Dog” competition. And once this year’s event kicked into full gear, it didn’t take long for the judges to pare the pickings down to just eight lovable yet peculiar-looking finalists.

Now, this unique contest runs during the Sonoma-Marin Fair and dates back to 1971 when it was introduced as a tongue-in-cheek means to raise funds for a local charity. Registrants paid a small entry fee and then brought forth their homely pooch for judging. Prizes were nominal and it was all in the spirit of whacky good humor.

Fast forward, and this fun-loving event has now gained a seriously amped-up appeal. Judges range from an NBC news correspondent to a state official, a local journalist and even a retired area prosecutor – so no shenanigans happening here! Yes, pomp, pageantry and excited yips (from both dogs and owners) are all part of this prestigious contest.

Cue the drum roll as we reveal this year’s winner of the coveted World’s Ugliest Dog title. It’s eight-year-old Pekingese, Wild Thang who travelled with mom, all the way down the west coast from Oregon.

Showing off a mug only a mother could love, Wild Thang’s

perseverance (this was his 5th competition with no prior win), paid off and earned his owner a cool $5,000 and a spot on NBC’s Today Show. So, congrats go out to Wild Thang for finally moving from dread “always a bridesmaid” status to that of top dog.

But who are the also-rans who weren’t quite ugly enough to earn the actual title?

Say hello to first-time contender Rome, a 14-year-old wheelchair-bound Pug who lives at a nearby sanctuary for seniors called The Pug Hotel. Renowned for being up for anything, this pooch is known to sleep with one eye open, just in case food, fun or frolics are about to happen. And because online fans of this annual event are also eligible to vote for that one special dog that tugs at the heartstrings – AKA the People’s Choice category – Rome went home with a little more than second-place status.

Then there’s senior, Daisy Mae who, at 14 years is another oldie but goodie. Toothless, almost blind and losing her hair, this winsome pooch began life as a street dog before being rescued a dozen years ago by a family who thinks her beautiful personality trumps that rough-looking exterior.

Now organizers quickly point out that this contest isn’t about mocking ugly dogs. It’s about having fun with these truly unique and wonderful characters and showcasing the side that might not be visible at first glance. Also, the importance of adopting all animals, not just the cute and cuddly.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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