Is there really such a thing as an ugly dog?
Judges at the 2018 World’s Ugliest Dog contest in Petaluma, California, answered that question by crowning a 9-year-old bulldog named Zsa Zsa the ugliest of them all.
Zsa Zsa, rescued from a Missouri puppy mill, now calls Anoka, Minnesota, home. “She was a puppy mill dog for five years in Missouri, sent to a dog auction and later purchased by Underdog Rescue,” said her owners, Megan and Jesse Brainard, according to the Ugliest Dog contest webpage. “From the moment we saw her beautiful face, we knew we would be her forever home. We are so excited for her, she deserves this.”
Zsa Zsa beat out 13 other competitors to take home a trophy and a $1,500 check at Saturday’s competition.
Owner Megan Brainard of Anoka, Minnesota, said the dog died in her sleep early Tuesday morning.
“She’s been staying over at my dad’s house. He woke up this morning and found her passed away,” Ms Brainard told Today.
The stout, long-tongued English bulldog won the annual competition, which started as a parody of more traditional pure-breed dog contests.
The death of Zsa Zsa, and the contest as a whole, points to a wider issue in dog breeding. English bulldogs are one of the most inbred types of dogs, with some geneticists saying the problem is now so bad their health will never be able to improve.
Due to their unique physique, they often suffer from a range of health problems and ailments. Their heavily wrinkled faces are prone to skin infections, and their narrow nostrils mean they are more likely to have breathing difficulties.
Such traits are similar in other pedigrees, such as the incredibly popular breed pugs. World’s Ugliest Dog is not the first competition to draw attention to the problem of dog breeding. Animal rights protesters stormed this year’s final of one of the biggest dog contests in the world, Crufts.
The two intruders were wrestled to the ground by security as they tried to unfurl banners reading “canine eugenics” on live television. The demonstration, organised by Peta, came as a two-and-a-half-year-old female whippet named Tease was announced Best in Show winner.