Photos: Pekingese is the World’s Ugliest Dog

It’s a contest where beauty is in the eye of the leash holder.

At the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, an 8-year-old Pekingese from Oregon named Wild Thang finally became top dog.

Known for his unique looks characterized by a lolling tongue and unruly fur, Wild Thang and his owner Ann Lewis of North Bend took home a $5,000 check.

Wild Thang had finished second place in the contest three times in previous years.

“Wild Thang was a fan favorite,” said Fiona Ma, California State Treasurer and one of the judges of this year’s contest. “The fact that he had been competing for five times and only came in second, it’s kind of like the bridesmaid and never the bride. I think it really tugged on our heartstrings that he deserved to win.”

Wild Thang was born and raised in Los Angeles until recently moving to Oregon. According to his bio, he contracted distemper as a puppy from a rescue foster, causing his tongue to stick out.

Apart from the physical issues, his owner says Wild Thang is healthy and happy.

The World’s Ugliest Dog contest has been a highlight at the fair for almost 50 years and promotes adopting dogs from shelters, instead of breeders, especially senior dogs.

Second place went to a wheelchair-bound pug named Rome, with the bronze medal awarded to a mixed breed rescue called Daisy May.

According to The Press Democrat newspaper in Sonoma County, who tried to interview Lewis after Wild Thang’s win, prizes for this year’s Ugliest Dog contest were contingent on her giving an exclusive first interview to NBC’s “Today” show. Look for Lewis and Wild Thang to appear on the show live Monday morning.

— Staff and wire reports

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: Ann Lewis holds her dog Wild Thang after winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: A dog named Ozzie is held up during the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
Freddie Mercury, a 14-year-old pug/Brussels griffon mix named for his unusual set of teeth, competes in the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, on June 21, 2024. Wild Thang, a Pekingese dog who had already entered the competition four times, finally won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog competition and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: Michelle Grady, of Rohnert Park, California, walks her dog Rome down the red carpet during the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: Ann Lewis holds her dog Wild Thang after winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: A dog named Daisy Mae looks on during the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: A Chinese Crested dog named Poppy looks on during on the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 
A man in a Bulldog mask holds Freddie Mercury, a 14-year-old pug/Brussels griffon mix named for his unusual set of teeth, during the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, on June 21, 2024. Wild Thang, a Pekingese dog who had already entered the competition four times, finally won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog competition and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images) 
Spectators wear dog-themed shirts at the World’s Ugliest Dog competition in Petaluma, Calif., Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury) 
Rome, a 14-year-old Pug, walks on-stage to compete in the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, on June 21, 2024. Wild Thang, a Pekingese dog who had already entered the competition four times, finally won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog competition and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images) 
Fans cheer for Rome, who took second place, at the World’s Ugliest Dog competition in Petaluma, Calif., Friday, June 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Nic Coury) 
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 21: Ann Lewis holds her dog Wild Thang with NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz after winning the World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair on June 21, 2024 in Petaluma, California. A Pekingese dog named Wild Thang won the 34th annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest and was awarded $5,000. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) 

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