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2023 Ugliest Dog Contest in California Won by ‘Scooter’

By: Ella Chen

In California’s 2023 ugly dog contest, many dogs and owners fought for first place. However, only a 7-year-old Chinese-crested dog named Scooter could take the crown.

The Ugliest Dog Contest is an annual contest that is held in Petaluma, California, with roots all the way in the 1970s by a man named Ross Smith. Smith was a member of Petaluma's Old Adobe Association and was looking for a way to raise money. After the pet parade had been replaced with a dog contest, Smith suggested an ugly dog contest.

Over the years, many different dogs have joined the festivities. For example, a dog named Sam was a blind, pure-bred Chinese Crested dog who joined the ugliest dog contest in Northern California between 2003–2005. His ugliness earned him international fame as well.

All the way from 1980 to 2023, many dogs arrived in California with weird fur or overbites, as well as creepy eyes and colored hair. Inn 2023’s ugliest dog contest, audiences saw skinny and fat dogs, lopsided faces with tongues sticking out, static fur, and so much more.

Scooter is brownish gray and hairless on the body, but has a few tufts of grayish white hair that sticks out on the top of his head. One of the ugliest dog contest judges even said, “In the cutest way possible, he kind of reminds me of a hairy hippopotamus.” Sadly though, Scooter has deformed hind legs, so it makes it hard for him to walk normally. Scooter recently got a new cart to help with his mobility and is now able to playfully run and walk around the park like the other dogs. When the wheels are off though, Scooter can do what most dogs can't: walk while balancing on his two front legs.

The hosts for the ugliest dog contest are fundraising money for many different charities and nonprofits. You might think that the ugliest dog contest is making fun of ugly dogs and criticizing them, but it is about celebrating each dog and how they are unique. Spectators are already eager to return for next year’s contest to crown the next winner.

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