Which pooch will take home the title this year for World's Ugliest Dog and a cash prize of $1,500
? Will it be the 14-year-old Mexican hairless mix who has an underbite, a four-year-old rescue pup named Josie, whose lazy tongue hangs out of her mouth, or Scamp, who has droopy ears and the scraggliest hair you'll ever see?
The 25th annual competition at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, Calif. on June 21 will determine which aesthetically-challenged pup will take home the top prize.
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“It started as a homegrown kind of contest — very small and quirky,” contest organizer Vicki DeArmon told TODAY.com. “But the whole thing has accelerated beyond anyone’s wildest imaginings.”
While the competition for dogs that are so ugly it's cute appears to be anti-Westminster, participants take the contest quite seriously.
In the seven years she’s worked on the contest, DeArmon said she has seen everything from excited fans bearing t-shirts and waving signs to hackers fiddling with online voting results.
Rascal (below) was the 2002 World's Ugliest Dog winner and "Ring of Champions" title holder. This naturally hairless dog is the kind that will be featured in the competition.
Judges will determine the winner based on a stunning first impression and a little personality. The three panelists look for shock factor, audience reaction, unusual attributes, and attitude.
“Does the dog strut across the stage? Does the dog look longingly off at a bone? They’re looking at what kind of things give them personality,” DeArmon said.
More than 2,000 people are expected to come to the event, which will feature 25 to 30 dogs. The pets will be separated into two categories for judging, mutts and pedigrees, and the final round will be a face-off between the winners of each.
Popular breeds include the hairless Chinese crested, pugs and shar-peis.
Last year, Princess Abby, who has been missing an eye since birth and has shorter front legs than back legs, took the top prize in last year's contest.
“In a way, we all love an ugly dog, and we love the underdog,” she said. “When you go into a shelter and see a dog that may not normally be adopted, your heart calls to that dog. The contest is a humorous relief that makes the world a little lighter."
If you can’t make it to the event, you can still vote for your favorite pup here
. As of Wednesday morning, Ellie Mae, a Chinese-crested hairless dog, is in the lead with more than 600 votes.
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