You’ve likely heard about those ugly dog contests, where the winner is some poor elderly dog with cataracts, a severe underbite, and an extra-long tongue that hangs out of the side of his mouth. When describing such dogs, people often say they “have a face only a mother could love.” However, nothing could be further from the truth, as the reality is that plenty of people love ugly dogs.
Want proof? Consider the fact that people breed ugly dogs on purpose. In fact, you could argue that the entire history of dog breeding is one rapid descent from the ugly tree. You start with the majestic gray wolf, and after numerous branch collisions on the way down, end up with the flat-faced, bug-eyed, and hugely popular Pug.
And the Pug isn’t even the ugliest dog breed. In fact, it didn’t crack our top five. Here are our picks for the ugliest dog breeds around, with the “winner” announced at the end.
1. Bull Terrier
The unattractive feature on this dog is its shark-shaped – sometimes called “egg-shaped” – head. Looking at a Bull Terrier brings to mind a prizefighter who has gotten his nose broken a few too many times – an impression that befits the breed’s rough-and-tumble origins in dog fighting and bear baiting. Their unique appearance has gotten Bullies cast as the mascot for Target, the titular character in the Tim Burton film Frankenweenie, and Spuds MacKenzie from the old Budweiser commercials. Who would have thought a homely pooch like this could make it in show biz?
2. Chinese Crested
Hairless varieties of dogs are always well-represented in ugly dog contests, and the Chinese Crested breed is the most famous of them all. It seems a healthy coat hides many flaws, which are on full display with these half-naked pups. Being totally hairless might actually improve the breed’s looks, as the patchy tufts of fur seem bizarre at best, scraggily and unkempt at worst. Fun fact: These dogs probably did not originate in China, but likely got their name because they were used as ratters on Chinese ships.
These guys look like the business end of a mop after it was used to clean the floor of a biker bar. Granted, any dog looks worse when it’s dirty. However, the Komondor, or Hungarian Sheepdog, has a long coat that’s perfect for trapping grime, combined with a job that keeps the dog outside and around livestock much of the time. And by the way, with their suspicious and protective nature, they are very good at their job. If you try to steal livestock when one of these dogs is around, things are bound to get ugly.
4. Peruvian Hairless
For the second entry from the hairless dog category, it was either this or the Mexican Hairless Dog. However, the coarse and irregular fur patches on this breed give it an edge in the ugly department. The Peruvian Hairless Dog pre-dates the Inca Empire and figures prominently in ancient cultural artifacts, proving that a fondness for ugly dog breeds is nothing new.
5. Shar Pei
There’s a whole cosmetics industry devoted to getting rid of wrinkles on humans, so why would people want to breed this trait in dogs? Well, the Shar Pei has its origins as an ancient fighting dog, and it’s believed that its loose skin gave it an advantage in combat. When the other dog grabbed hold of a mouthful of skin, the Shar Pei could still wheel around and counterattack. While those wrinkles might constitute a sort of superpower for the Shar Pei, they sure are unsightly. The prickly coat and blue-black tongue don’t do much for the Shar Pei’s looks, either.
And the Ugliest Dog Breed Is…
Those dogs are all ugly in their own way, but there can be only one ugliest dog breed. Based on a thoroughly unscientific process, we’ve determined that that breed is…
Frankly, it’s hard to justify any other choice. The Chinese Crested is the only purebred dog that routinely wins ugly dog contests. And when it’s not a purebred Chinese Crested taking home the ugly trophy, it’s often a Chinese Crested mix. Perhaps it’s time for the breed to be banned from competing, as the whole hair situation gives it too much of an advantage.
Of course, there’s always room to disagree. Some might insist that Chinese Cresteds are actually adorable. Others might argue for the inclusion of Bulldogs (which would have given them the trifecta, as they’re also on our lists of the dumbest and laziest breeds). Still others might take issue with the very idea of ranking dogs by ugliness.
It’s nothing personal. Ugly dogs can be just as sweet, devoted, and fun-loving as good-looking ones. In fact, maybe that’s why people are drawn to ugly dogs in the first place – because they prove what Mom always told us, that it’s what’s on the inside that counts.