Recently, 14 of the country’s most aesthetically challenged dogs gathered at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, to find out whose grisly mien reigned supreme. Well, the results are in, and the undisputed winner of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog competition is none other than a nine-year-old bulldog-gargoyle mix named Zsa Zsa.
The barrel with legs hailing from Anoka, Minnesota, certainly has a unique look to separate her from the rest of the pack. Her severe underbite forms a frown that puts Grumpy Cat to shame, leaving plenty of room for an obscenely long tongue that dangles from her jowls and nearly touches the ground. In fact, close your eyes for just a moment and you can practically smell the old-cheese-and-gym-socks aroma of her sneezes and chuffs wafting through your screen.
But as we all know, looks aren’t everything—unless you’re a contestant of the 30th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest, of course, in which case all the strange and unusual features that cause some to turn their heads can net you the big prize! And Zsa Zsa wasn’t just handed the title on a silver platter—she faced off against a number of fierce-looking fellow contestants, including a Cryptkeeper-lookalike hairless dog and a formerly obese canine covered in saggy skin flaps following rapid weight loss, before bringing home the title. But, with beautifully manicured nails to match the color of her studded pink collar and drooping tongue, Zsa Zsa had that little extra something to put her over the rest of the competition: charm.
“She was eating part of a Slim Jim on the table and just sneezed all over (the judges) and was drooling on them,” recalled Zsa Zsa’s owner, Megan Brainard. Brainard probably understands the appeal of the squat little dog better than anyone. After all, it was Zsa Zsa who stole her heart at a local rescue group’s auction in Minnesota. Zsa Zsa had been saved from a puppy mill and was in need of a family that would love her more than just her looks, and with Brainard she got that in spades.
“It’s hard for me to call her the ugliest dog because I always tell her she’s so pretty,” Brainard said. The judges of this year’s competition must’ve felt equally enchanted by Zsa Zsa, because she took home $1500 and the six-foot-tall first place trophy (which was appropriately colored pink). Now, Brainard and Zsa Zsa are jet setting around the country doing interviews and making appearances. Brainard says that the public just can’t seem to get enough of the dog, and the duo is now frequently stopped on the street by admirers.
As amazing as it is for Zsa Zsa to have finally gained the public adoration that she so richly deserves, what’s even better is that part of the contest’s winnings included a donation to Underdog Rescue, the same organization that rescued Zsa Zsa and united her with her forever family. So Zsa Zsa’s unique looks didn’t just have a hand in helping her find a home—they’ll also play a part in helping other dogs in need find loving families of their own. You’ve got to admit, there’s definitely something beautiful about that.