The World's Ugliest Dog Contest celebrates its 25th anniversary today at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, Calif. Twenty-five plus "beauty challenged dogs are foregoing their usual beauty regimens in preparation," according to producer Vicki DeArmon.
"They are so ugly they are cute," DeArmon told Discovery News.
This year's contenders include pedigree and mutt mixes of Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, Boxer, Terrier, Pug, Poodle and Peruvian.
Chupee and other competitors are vying for a $1500 cash prize, a trophy "and an instant launch into worldwide acclaim," DeArmon said.
"The dogs are judged on their initial horror effect on the audience," shared DeArmon, who is the author of the recently published "World's Ugliest Dogs: The Official World's Ugliest Dog Contest Book."
"They are also judged on their personality, such as how the dog struts across the stage or how its tail wags during the competition."
Human breeding efforts have, in many cases, resulted in some of the "ugly" breed characteristics and health problems of certain dogs. Many of the competing dogs, however, were adopted from shelters.
At least one former World's Ugliest Dog has an actor's guild card and has starred in horror movies, DeArmon shared. "Media interest in this contest has been phenomenal," she said. "Dogs become famous overnight."
All dogs must enter a prequalifying round to ensure that "they are truly ugly before they take the stage." DeArmon said that sometimes she and others cannot even tell if candidates in the "mutt" category are really dogs or not, so that's yet another matter that must be confirmed in advance.
Owners must provide veterinarian documentation that their dogs are healthy when registering. The fair additionally conducts on-site vet checks on the day of the contest.
Rascal is "ugly dog royalty," according to DeArmon. Both his mother and grandmother formerly held the World's Ugliest Dog title.
More than 50 percent of the contestants have never competed before. In past contests, the winner is usually a wild card from the new entries. Last year, a dog from the U.K. -- bedecked in a Union Jack -- won over the audience.
"The contest keeps getting bigger and better every year," said DeArmon. "The dogs seem to be getting uglier too."