A day for underdogs as furry misfits walk the red carpet and vie for top honours

The contestants were judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 11:30am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2017, 10:11pm

A 125-pound gentle giant named Martha has been crowned the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

The gassy Neapolitan Mastiff was a favourite of the Northern California crowd from the start at the Friday night contest, often plopping down on her side on stage.

She was rescued when she was nearly blind, but after several surgeries can see again, according to her handler Shirley Zindler.

She waddles away with US$1,500, a flashy trophy and a trip to New York for media appearances, all things she could hardly care less about.

The homely hounds and their humans arrived hours before the show to socialise and size up the competition, where dog lovers celebrate the imperfections of man’s best friend.

Many of the contestants were adopted. Monkey, a six-year-old Brussel Griffon, and Icky, an eight-year-old unknown breed, were both rescued from a hoarding situation.

These dogs – some with acne, others with tongues permanently sticking out – are used to getting called ugly. But for their owners, it was love at first sight.

“He’s my sexy boy,” Vicky Adler, of Davis, California, said of her eight-year-old Chinese Crest named Zoomer.

At 16 years old, Moe, a Brussel Griffon pug, was this year’s most senior contestant this year. He has lost his hearing and sight but his sense of smell is strong and he was enjoying all the smells the fairground offered – including funnel cakes and other fried goodies.

The pooches faced off in a red carpet walk and “Faux Paw Fashion Show”. The contestants were judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction.

A blind Chihuahua-Chinese Crested mix named Sweepee Rambo bested 16 other ugly entries in last year’s competition.