World's Ugliest Dog Contest logo.
(World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest)

New ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ Is Predictably Adorable, With a Delightfully Dorky Name

We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially when it comes to our furry friends. As of June 21, 2024, the world officially has a new “ugliest dog,” but the joke’s on them because … he’s actually adorable.

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He’s also got the cutest, most adorkable name I’ve ever heard. Meet Wild Thang, the new World’s Ugliest Dog Contest winner!

The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest has been held annually for more than fifty years at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. This year, Wild Thang, an 8-year-old Pekinese, was crowned ugliest of them all … but I think his title should actually be “snuggliest,” don’t you?

Contrary to the contest’s name, the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest is not about making fun of ugly animals. Quite the contrary. It’s about celebrating dogs of all shapes, sizes, colors, lineages, and temperament, as well as acknowledging that every dog is deserving of our love and respect. Every dog deserves a home, too, which is why the event also aims to shine a spotlight on pet adoption.

On their website, organizers note that aside from being fun and entertaining, the contest serves an important purpose. “Many of the contestant dogs have been rescued from shelters and puppy mills, to find loving homes in the hands of those willing to adopt,” they write. “Please join us in raising awareness and support for the pets yet to be placed in a loving home.

About Wild Thang

Wild Thang is owned by Ann Lewis of Coos Bay, Oregon. This was his fifth time competing in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, so this victory must taste all the sweeter! According to his official biography, Wild Thang narrowly survived distemper as a young pup, which caused his teeth not to grow in. That’s why his tongue kind of lolls out of his mouth at all times, and he also has a wonky right leg that “paddles 24/7.”

Wild Thang claimed the throne this year from the 2023 winner, Scooter, a 7-year-old Chinese Crested who uses a mobility cart to get around. Wild Thang and his owner hope to raise awareness about the importance of keeping your pets’ vaccinations up to date.

What do they win?

Dogs come from all over the United States and other parts of the world to enter the contest, which is divided into pedigreed dogs and mixed breed categories. A winner is selected from each category, and then they compete for the overall prize. All dogs must be cleared by a veterinarian before entering the competition.

By winning the contest, Wild Thang earned the enviable title of “The World’s Ugliest Dog” along with a cash prize of $1,600. He and his human also got a trophy and a free trip to New York City, along with media coverage and (presumably) a huge influx of social media followers.

“Advocate. Adopt. Adore.”

Fairgoers have the chance to meet their own new best friends while attending the Sonoma-Marin Fair. The Sonoma County Humane Society is on hand to educate people and raise awareness of adoption and rescue opportunities nearby.

I, for one, welcome our new fluffy overlord. All hail Wild Thang, our new world’s ugliest dog!

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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins is a contributing entertainment writer for The Mary Sue. She also creates calendars and books about web memes, notably "You Had One Job!," "Animals Being Derps," and the upcoming "Mildly Vandalized." When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or streaming content under a pile of very loved (spoiled!) pets.