Yoda, the Chihuahua, Wins World’s Ugliest Dog Title [Video]

It’s official: Yoda has been named the world’s ugliest dog. The scruffy Chihuahua crossbreed was found behind an apartment building 14 years ago when Nicole Schumacher thought her thought she was a rat.

Yoda, the 14-year-old Chinese-crested chihuahua mix, managed to win the dubious title of World’s Ugliest Dog at a Northern California Fair on Friday. The dog staggered judges with her short tufts of hair, protruding tongue and long hairless legs.

The dog’s owner Terry Schumacher of Hanford, Calif. says the 2-pound dog has come a long way since she was found abandoned behind an apartment building. Schumacher says that Yoda first looked so mangy that she mistook her for a rat. Originally frightened she almost ran a mile. But on closer inspection she soon discovered it was an abandoned dog in need of a good home and quickly took her in.

“When she brought her home, I thought she had a rat,” Schumacher recalled. Today, Yoda, who has irregular features and scruffy fur, especially between her toes, is part of the family, who eats the same food as the Schumachers and often accompanies Terry to her job as a dog groomer.

Competiton at the Sonoma-Marin Fair was fierce and included last year’s winner, a one-eyed Chihuahua named Princess Abby. Another regular at the competition was also Handsome Hectar who even has his own Facebook page and a blog which is regularly updated by owner Ghada Marta. It seems that Chihuahua’s appear to be firm favourites for the title of the ugliest dog as a pedigree Chinese crested won in 2008 and another Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix was named the ugliest in 2007.

The contest is in its 23rd year and is held to raise awareness about rescue dogs and the dangers of inbreeding. Numerous dogs at this year’s contest were bred unsuccessfully and then left at shelters when their owners were dismayed to find that they had uneven legs, crooked spines and other deformities.

That’s what happened to a Chinese Crested dog named Rue, who was born blind and with no hole in one ear, making her deaf. She would have likely been put down, if not for Annie Ragsdale of Lodi, who rescued her and brought her into her home. “We’re here because we wanted to show people that it’s important to adopt these kinds of dogs,” Ragsdale said. “Most people want a cute dog when they go to the shelter, so dogs like her are usually put to sleep.”

Another participant at Friday’s contest was an adorable pit bull named Cuda, who lives in Durham, North Carolina and has acquired more than 4,000 fans on Facebook. Cuda was born with a fused neck and legs that are different lengths, the result of inbreeding. Her owners, Scott and Julie LeRoy, adopted her from a couple who had lost their home last year.

They decided to participate in the contest after seeing last year’s winner Princess Abby, a Chihuahua mix who had also been inbred. “We came out to show people that backyard breeding and inbreeding needs to stop,” said Scott LeRoy. “Breeders don’t need any license to operate and it becomes all about the money for them.”

The winner of the contest received $1,000 and a trophy. But beyond the money and the spotlight, participants said they were there to bring attention to animal rescue causes and encourage others to adopt pets instead of buying them from breeders.

“He really seems to enjoy being here and it helps give back to the animal community,” said Dane Andrew, whose dog Rascal was a contestant. Rascal won the 2002 World’s Ugliest Dog Contest and many other similar contests since. The pair have gone on to become celebrities on sorts, appearing on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show and The View, among others. [via Newser, Daily Mail and The Washington Post]

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