Alternate Names For “The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest”
“The Inner-Beauty Pageant,” anyone? Submissions are open now.
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In 2023, no one’s safe from unfair beauty standards, including dogs. The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is accepting submissions until June 21 for this year’s competition.
Hosted in Petaluma, California, as part of the Sonoma-Marin Fair, a panel of adult, human judges will determine which of the unconsenting dogs entered in the contest is…the ugliest. For nearly 50 years, the contest has been “a testament that the pedigree does not define the pet” and a way to celebrate “the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique,” per to their website.
To enter, interested “unconventional” beauties of all breeds and sizes need to submit an entry form, short bio, photo, and proof of vaccination. (And maybe an essay explaining why you think you’re OK with the world calling your dog ugly.)
On June 23, this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog will be crowned with a trophy, $1,500 prize, and world renown, with the first and second runners-up pocketing $1,000 and $500, respectively.
Competing pups are also eligible for the “Spirit Award,” which honors “a dog and owner who have overcome obstacles and/or are providing service to the community based on the dog’s biography,” as well as the “People’s Choice Award,” based on online voting results.
Previous winners include:
2022, Mr. Happy Face, a hairless Chinese Crested / Chihuahua mix, who was adopted from a shelter in Arizona after being rescued from a hoarder’s house and whose hobbies include “being fearlessly adorable.”
2019, Scamp the Tramp, a mutt with dreadlocks who was rescued from the streets in Compton, California.
2018, Zsa Zsa, a wide-legged English Bulldog with an underbite and very long tongue.
The website insists, in bold, that “the annual World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest is not about making fun of ‘ugly’ dogs, but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!”
The intention? Tens across the board. The execution? Eh. So, we have some pitches for rebranding the contest name:
The Inner-Beauty Pageant
The World’s Best Paw-sonality (The Wildest doesn’t do cutesy puns, but hey they belong somewhere, right?)
A One-of-a-Kind Competition
The Extraordinary Dog Show
Actually, The Best Dogs in the World
“I’m Just a Baby” Contest (cue the TikTok sound)
No, You’re Ugly
Unique in Many Other Ways Competition
“Everyone Gets a Participation Trophy Because Who Are We to Judge Contests” Contest
A Dog Competition Where We Measure Joie De Vivre and That’s It
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if your dog has a creative comb-over, hunched back, droopy jowls, protruding teeth, missing limbs, or uncontrollable gas — we refuse to call them ugly, but definitely want to see pictures. And, in that way, we’re all winners.
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Nikki is a writer and comedian. Their writing has appeared on The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Funny or Die, Reductress, the Google Assistant, and her folks’ fridge. They were named one of WhoHaha’s “35 LGBTQ Creators We Love” in 2018 and a Yes, And Laughter Lab finalist in 2019. They worked as a story producer on the YouTube Originals weekly music show, RELEASED, and wrote for the inaugural 2021 MTV Movie & TV Awards: Unscripted, hosted by Nikki Glaser. Nikki hosts the monthly-ish standup show Queer Tiger Beat, which has been recommended by The New York Times and featured in Time Out.