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'World's ugliest dog' is a long-tongued frizz-ball called Wild Thang

Wild Thang was crowned the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog contest. (Josh Edelson / AFP/ Getty Images via CNN Newsource) Wild Thang was crowned the winner of the World's Ugliest Dog contest. (Josh Edelson / AFP/ Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest unearthed some true diamonds in the ruff on Friday when it was held at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California.

Wild Thang, an 8-year-old Pekingese, was crowned the winner and collected the US$5,000 prize after five previous attempts.

“He was a fan favourite … he’s kind of like the bridesmaid and never the bride,” judge Fiona Ma told the Associated Press. “He really tugged at our heart strings and deserved to win.”

As a puppy, Wild Thang contracted a virus that almost killed him and left him with permanent damage. His teeth never developed, so his tongue flops out, and his right front leg paddles all the time.

“He’s never had a hair cut so that is the way he is and (his owner) shaves his stomach and he likes to sleep on ice packs,” Ma added. “He is just a sweet dog – I was just holding him and he loves to be held and cuddled. That’s part of it, these rescue dogs, they just need forever homes, so please adopt, don’t shop.”

The contest is not about making fun of the dogs, organizers stressed, “but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!”

A 14-year-old, one-eyed pug named Rome snagged second place, making his first appearance in the competition. He has retired to the Pug Hotel Senior Sanctuary in California, where, “despite his bowed legs, he loves to tippy tap dance with his feet to express his joy for life,” his biography read.

Like many of the dogs in this competition, he makes a big contributes to the community – visiting hospice patients and taking part in the 2023 Wheeling Pug Relay team, which raises money to buy wheelchairs for dogs.

Wild Thang, meanwhile, has helped raise money to evacuate seven of his fellow Pekingese from Ukraine, and another competitor, Ozzie – a 10-year-old terrier mix – visits senior centers and takes care of foster kittens.

Most of the dogs in the contest have been rescued, including third place Daisy Mae who, over the years, has lost much of her hair, teeth and vision but has “gained in friends, confidence, and so much spunk,” her biography read.

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