Why the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest Has Become Downright Ugly

world's ugliest dog 2014 winner peanut

On the last Friday of June every year, a pup wins the dubious “World’s Ugliest Dog” title at a contest held during the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif.

The contest organizers insist it’s all in good fun. “We celebrate the spirit and imperfections that make these dogs loveable and adoptable,” said Sarah Cummings, the contest’s CEO, in a press release.

The pet parents who enter the contest are proud of their dogs, “despite missing fur, crossed eyes, duck waddles or mismatched ears,” according to the press release. (The dogs, that is, not the pet parents.)

To qualify for the contest, dogs must have paperwork from veterinarians assuring they are healthy. A vet is also on site during the contest to check each of the contenders.

Until last year, the majority of the winners were Chinese Crested Dogs or elderly, toothless Chihuahuas. However, it’s very interesting that as of this year, the rules no longer state that dogs must be “naturally ugly.”

Perhaps that’s because the 2014 winner, Peanut, looked much different when he was born. As a puppy, Peanut was abused by his owner and suffered horrific burns in a fire.

“He doesn’t have lips anymore,” Holly Chandler, who rescued Peanut from a shelter where he’d languished for nine months, told KPIX 5 last year.

“His eyelids are also gone and he can’t close his eyes, so therefore his eyes water. The tears drain into his nose, so he has nice little snot bubbles because of it. So it’s great, that adds to his character.”

Just imagine the uproar if a two-legged burn victim won the title of “World’s Ugliest Human.”

Chandler said she entered Peanut in the contest to raise awareness for animal rescue. That’s a noble reason, but there’s got to be a better way to do this than making fun of — er, celebrating — a dog’s looks, especially when those looks are the result of abuse.

Why not a World’s Sassiest Dog contest? Or how about World’s Happiest Dog? Now, that’s a competition I would fully support.

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Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!