We like ugly mutts and we cannot lie.
On June 23 this year 15 good, bad and excessively ugly dogs participated in the 30th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest, a highly anticipated segment of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California.
In 2016 we covered the winning Chinese crested chihuahua, Sweepee Rambo, and his 2017 successor, a drooling, 57kg Neapolitan mastiff named Martha. This year the trophy passed to nine-year old Zsa Zsa, an English bulldog with (not) a lot going for her.
A press release announced her victory: "Nine years young with a swaggering tongue, Zsa Zsa delivered a shower of slobber as she claimed this year's title." What a class act.
But competition was ruff this year – underbites and cataracts faced off against droopy jowls and hairless bodies, just some of the award-winning attributes on which judges based their decision. In the end it was Zsa Zsa's impressively long tongue and rounded shoulders that made her stand out from her fellow contenders.
Owing to a severe underbite and almost completely horizontal upper teeth, Zsa Zsa's lolling tongue has nowhere else to go other than out of the side of her mouth. "We keep it moist since it's dry all the time, and use dog ChapStick for her lips," says owner Megan Brainard.
Having been rescued after five years in a puppy mill, the English bulldog has certainly earned her moment in the spotlight.
Canines that didn't quite make the cut included Josie, a bedraggled Chinese crested chihuahua hailing from Arizona, and Scamp the dreadlocked terrier, who is too much of a rockstar to be perturbed by coming in at second place.
Besides eternal glory, being a beast rather than a beauty has its perks – a large trophy, $1500 cash, a trip to New York for an interview on Today and a substantial donation to Underdog Rescue. As for her own private celebrations, Brainard confirmed that Zsa Zsa enjoyed a feast of Chipotle and Slim Jims.
Unfortunately this story doesn’t have a happy ending; Zsa Zsa passed away in her sleep two weeks after her big win. Still, her legacy extends beyond a championship title. Although the World's Ugliest Dog Contest parodies traditional competitions, it does more than celebrate 'unique' looks; it also encourages prospective owners to focus on personality and remember that pedigree does not define the pet. Everyone deserves a little love, irrespective of how they look.