The World’s Ugliest Dog Is Pretty Cute

Walle poses for a portrait while competing in the 25th annual World's Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 21, 2013, in Petaluma, Calif. The 4-year-old beagle, boxer and bassett hound mix went on to win top honors. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Walle. Photo: Noah Berger

There was an unusual upset at this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog Contest: Walle, a four-year-old beagle, boxer, and basset hound mix, beat out thirty relatively unsightly entrants to win the 25th annual competition. Walle’s new title has been met with surprise by non-expert observers, since he’s a pretty normal-looking dog — a cute one, even! (For comparison’s sake: This is 2012’s winner, Mugly, and this is 2011’s winner, Yoda.) “This dog looked like he’s been photo-shopped with pieces from various dogs and maybe a few other animals,” explained judge Brian Sobel. Walle’s “bizarre waddle of a walk” was also cited as a reason to award him the top honor.

As you can see in the video below, Walle’s short legs and large head do make him look a little awkward when he’s in motion, but “charming” seems like a better description of his movements than “bizarre.” “People come up to me and say that dog is not right,” insisted his human, Tammie Barbee. “But I love him.”

The AP notes that the contest has been dominated by hairless dogs in recent years, so it’s possible that the judges were trying to make some kind of political statement with their selection. After all, the World’s Ugliest Dog title does come with a lot of symbolic weight, not to mention a $1,500 prize and appearances on Today and Jimmy Kimmel Live.