World’s Ugliest Dog contest: Eight-year-old Pekinese Wild Thang claims title

The annual contest, held in California, featured eight dogs vying for the top prize

World’s Ugliest Dog contest: Wild Thang, an eight-year-old Pekinese, won the top prize. Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA

The World’s Ugliest Dog contest may not render the most flattering title to its victor, but don’t tell that to Wild Thang.

The eight-year-old Pekinese won this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog competition on Friday.

The annual contest, held at the 2024 Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, featured eight dogs vying for the title. Most of the creatures came from dog shelters before being adopted.

Wild Thang – of Coos Bay, Oregon – has competed in five editions of the World’s Ugliest Dog contest. Friday marked his first victory.


The Pekinese was diagnosed with canine distemper as a 10-week-old puppy, preventing the growth of his teeth and causing muscular disorder in one of his legs.

Organisers of the World’s Ugliest Dog competition have been holding the event annually for nearly 50 years, according to its website. The site notes that “the contest speaks to the importance of advocating for the adoration of all animals and the benefits of adopting”.

Wild Thang’s owner, Ann Lewis, can expect to receive $5,000 (€4,674) for the win and an appearance on NBC’s Today show.

The runner-up in the contest was a 14-year-old pug named Rome. And rounding out the podium in third place was a white-coated mixed-breed 14-year-old dog named Daisy Mae, who was rescued from the streets at age two and has lost her teeth, hair and vision.

Other entrants included chihuahua mixes, Chinese crested mixes and pug mixed breeds, including a 14-year-old Brussels-griffon/pug mix named Freddie Mercury. Freddie Mercury did not win a prize this year in his debut at the event but is the official mascot of Petaluma’s local ice-cream truck and makes frequent appearances at local birthday parties as well as youth sporting events.

World’s Ugliest Dog contest: Rome, a 14-year-old pug, was runner-up. Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA
World’s Ugliest Dog contest: 14-year-old Daisy Mae, pictured with Elizabeth Whitehouse, finished in third place. Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA
World's Ugliest Dog Contest: Freddie Mercury, a 14-year-old Brussels-griffon/pug mix, pictured with Dan, is the official mascot of Petaluma’s local ice-cream truck. Photograph: John G Mabanglo/EPA

Voting was conducted by a panel of judges, with the public able to vote online for the people’s choice award, which went to 14-year-old pug Rome.

Judges this year included NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz, human rights advocate Linda Witong Abrahm and California’s state treasurer, Fiona Ma.

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The idea for the event came from Petaluma resident Ross Smith in 1971 as a way to generate fundraising revenue for the community’s Old Adobe Association, and the Sonoma-Marin Fair has hosted the event since 1988. – Guardian