Meet Wild Thang, voted world's ugliest dog

Wild Thang, an eight-year-old Pekingese, has been crowned as the winner of this year's World's Ugliest Dog competition.

Held during the 2024 Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, this year's contest included eight contenders - the majority rescues who came from shelters before finding their forever families.

Wild Thang, from Coos Bay, Oregon, has competed five times in previous World's Ugliest Dog competitions, but this is his first win.

Wild Thang's unique looks are due to a case of canine distemper when he was a 10-week-old puppy.

The disease prevented the growth of his teeth, hence the dangling tongue, and muscular disorder in one of his legs.

The World's Ugliest Dog competition has been held for nearly 50 years and "celebrates the imperfections that make all dogs special and unique," according to its website.

Wild Thang, and his owner Ann Lewis, will receive $5,000 and on NBC's The Today Show.

A 14-year-old pug in a wheelchair named Rome came in second place and receives a prize of $3,000. It was Rome's first entry into the contest.

"I love that [the competition] represents dogs that are imperfect — imperfectly perfect," Rome's owner Michelle Grady said.

A dark grey pug walks down a red carpet, strapped into support wheels for his hind legs
Second-placed Rome [EPA]

Another first-time entrant, a 14-year-old white coated and mixed breed rescue dog named Daisy May, won the third place title and will receive $2,000.

She was rescued from the streets at two years old. She has lost her hair, teeth and vision.

Daisy May's owner, Elizabeth Whitehouse, said it was a surprise to take a podium position.

"I thought that she would be the most beautiful ugly dog, but as it turns out, other people don't see the beauty in her that I do," she said.

Voting was also open online for fans to select one special dog to receive the People's Choice Award, which went to Rome, the judges' runner-up.

The annual contest emphasizes importance of adopting all animals.

It's not about making fun of "ugly" dogs, according to the contest, but instead "having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!"

This year's judges included NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz, human rights advocate Linda Witong Abrahm and California 34th Treasurer Fiona Ma.

Entries this year included Chihuahua mixes, Chinese Crested mixes and Pug mixes.

One contestant who missed out on a prize, Freddie Mercury, is a rescue who made his debut in the contest this year.

Fred, who is described as having "a face like a fork-lift", spends his days as a mascot for Petaluma's local ice cream truck.

He also attends youth football games and is a special request at birthday parties.