In the spirit of love, acceptance, and humility, we present to you… ugly dogs. Through no fault of their own, they’ve been given a raw deal and must walk through life jealous of German shepherds.
Hairless bodies, funky faces, and weird body shapes, we have them all. Sure, maybe they won’t be on the cover of Modern Dog, but we (and their mothers) love them just the same.
While they may not be a face you’d want to wake up to every morning, some of us would fit that bill, too. (Present company excluded). The word “ugly” is so harsh, but sometimes the truth must come out – These dogs are tough to look at.
They should never take a high school yearbook picture or, heaven forbid, a driver’s license photo, but we believe they’re still worthy of mentioning. Now, let’s get into the world of ugly dogs. It just might make you appreciate the reflection in the mirror.
Ugly Dog Breeds
What makes a dog ugly? A big nose? Pop eyed? Weird eyebrows? We believe it’s a conglomeration of things that, when put together, make you want to throw up in your mouth a little.
But so what that poodles are groomed to a T, and Maltese are so cute you want to put them in your pocket; beauty is only skin deep. All dogs have hearts of gold and only want to give love and affection.
I think I’ve said enough to cover my bases that we’re not horrible people, so here are the ugliest dog breeds ever. Just make sure they don’t hear you say that.
1. The Chinese Crested
Say the word “Chinese Crested,” and most people could conjure up a freakish-looking dog in their heads. They’d have good reason to. Why?
- The Chinese crested dog with a “combover” of hair at the top makes folically-challenged men look hot.
- Their short stature doesn’t exactly say “regal.”
- Their spotted pink skin looks like a bad rash.
- Its legs look like spindles.
- Its tail looks like someone accidentally put it there.
Despite these, um, limiting characteristics, Chinese crested dogs have managed to warm the hearts of many with their “playful, loving, and devoted” personalities, says the American Kennel Club (AKC).
There are two types of these hairless dog breeds: A) Hairless and B) Powderpuff (ones with hair that looks kind of fancy!)
This pup is celebrated by its owners and has also won six coveted “World’s Ugliest Dog” contests since 2010. (Some were mixed breeds, but you can still recognize the Chinese Crested in them.) In 2023, Scooter won the title after being rescued by his guardian from certain death in a shelter. Nothing ugly about that. Long live Scooter!
2. The Mexican Hairless
Since its proper name is “Xoloitzcuintle,” let’s just stick with the “Mexican hairless” dog. “Naked dog” sounds too creepy. The “First dog of the Americas” (they’ve been in Mexico for over 3,000 years), these dogs come in three sizes and two varieties:
Sizes: Standard, miniature, and toy. Varieties: With hair and without.
The Xolo (pronounced Show-Low) almost became extinct since the ancient Mesoamericans used to eat them. They’ve made a comeback, however, and today show their ugly mugs to anyone who will look. Their saving grace… They’re incredible companions, really smart, and obedient.
This breed was officially recognized in Mexico in 1956. Viva la Mexican Hairless!
3. Neapolitan Mastiff
The Neapolitan mastiff, an ancient breed, looks like what you see when you stand in front of a carnival mirror. They take stretched out to a whole new level and are full of wrinkles and saggy skin.
With droopy eyes and jowls the size of heads, these ugly guys were developed in Italy from large Roman war dogs crossed with British mastiffs. They had no choice but to be huge (from 120-150+ lbs).
The Mastino, as they’re called, are excellent guard dogs since they don’t take kindly to strangers. This makes up for its ugliness. Neapolitan mastiffs are protective of their human families. Also, be aware if you don’t want a slobber shower, carry an umbrella when you’re around one.
4. Dogue de Bordeaux
This breed has the wrinkly thing down pat, too, although not as severe as a mastino. In fact, they’re only kind of ugly. But then I realized that’s like saying you’re kind of pregnant, so they earned their way to our list, honestly. They do have a semi-cuteness though, that you can’t get away from.
Although their history is sketchy and debatable, we do know they came to the US in the 1890s. They flew under the radar until 1989, when the movie Turner and Hooch came out and shot them to fame. (One played in the role opposite Tom Hanks.)
The Dogue de Bordeaux is easy-going, calm, loyal, and stubborn. Most of those attributes are fine until you add the fact they weigh 110+ lbs, have a bite force per square inch (psi) of 556, and can grow to be almost 24” tall (from the shoulder blades or withers to the floor). That’s when being stubborn can become dangerous, so these dogs need alpha-type guardians who are familiar with large dogs and how to train them.
And if you can get past their looks, the rest is downhill with these sweeties. So they have big heads and a few wrinkles. What’s not to love?
Far from being a big dog, weighing in at around 10 lbs., an Affenpinscher has many different looks, depending on his stylist. He is a bit of an intense-looking ugly dog and, along with several other small breeds, thinks he’s bigger than he actually is.
Affenpinschers, aka monkey dogs, aka ape terriers, aka the mustached little devil, originated in Germany. Since they were bred to be rodent hunters, you wouldn’t want to have other small animals around them. He’s also a barker, has wiry fur, and can exhibit temper tantrums if things aren’t going his way. (Sounds like my ex-husband!)
Before it sounds like we’re not fans of this little Saint Bernard wannabe, please know we appreciate his accomplishments, like winning the Westminster Kennel Club’s Best in Show in 2013. (Go, Banana Joe!) We also admire his tendency to be loyal and affectionate, so if you can find one, an Affen can certainly win you over.
6. American Pit Bull Terrier
As if pitbull terriers didn’t have enough bad press, they made it onto our ugliest dogs list. They can’t catch a break.
If you don’t know the controversy over pro-pitbull or anti-pitbull opinions, you’ve been living in La-la Land. These fiercely loyal, loving, and sensitive dogs have gotten a bad rap ever since the 70s when Americans were made aware that horrible people were fighting them against each other. (It’s those people we should be afraid of, not the dogs, but I digress.)
Pit Bull Terriers were once an iconic American breed. They were American military mascots, advertising stars, and popular farm and family dogs. – Vetstreet
When dog fighters criminally exploited this gentle, humorous, and affectionate breed, American society largely turned against pitbull terriers. They find them intimidating. To this day, there is breed-specific legislation (BSL – also a hot topic) that prevents certain types of dogs, along with their human families, from living in certain places or obtaining certain insurance.
I vote we turn this tide and bring back the truth… That pitbulls of all kinds, ugly or not, be revered for the devoted, warm, and tender beings they always have been. Spend time with this dog. That’s what he needs. And if you want to feel more protected than you ever have, go adopt an American pitbull terrier.
Now, back to our irreverent, entertaining article…
7. The Komondor
Think of an old-fashioned mop, and you’ll have an almost perfect picture in your mind of these funny-looking animals. One look at these 100+ lb. dogs will have you thinking it’s time to go get your car washed.
They’re covered in white, spiraled cords (think dreadlocks) and can be recognized at a glance. Their cords are for their protection from harsh weather and mouthy predators and can get so long you can’t see their feet.
Komondors are weirdly athletic, agile for their size, and highly affectionate. They were developed/bred to guard sheep. As dogs classified in the working group, Hungarians have used them for centuries, taking advantage of their confidence and toughness to protect those in their care.
They take their innate desire to watch over others seriously. If you have a cat, child, or dog, you’ll probably see the Komondor’s nature exposed. But this makes him a poor candidate for a dog park since a “pack of dogs” can be seen as a threat to them and those they love.
If you’re experienced with large dogs and the way they need to be trained, don’t mind special grooming, or if you need something on your floor absorbed (kidding!), this ugly dog may be your white in shining armor.
8. Griffon Nivernais
This breed could be called yappy. They love to vocalize what they’d like to communicate. To top it off, “Scruffy,” “unkempt,” “shaggy,” and “homeless” might be the adjectives you think about at first sight of this particular breed. Not a great first impression. They kind of earned their spot on this ugly dog list.
By the 1800s, they were close to extinction until lovers of the breed increased their population. (Can I get a woop-woop for dog advocates!) The modern Griffon isn’t as large as his ancestors, but other than that, you can see the strong resemblance.
This ugly dog is quite rare outside of France but is promoted on the United Kennel Club’s website, complete with a detailed description of everything – Griffon Nivernais.
9. Épagneul Pont-Audemer – French Spaniel
If ever a pooch needed a toupee, it would be this one. I think they named him something fancy to make up for his looks.
This medium-sized breed, 44-60 lbs, is one of several pointing breeds from France and is named after the city of Pont-Audemer in Normandy. ‘Pontos’ enjoy clowning around, earning them the nickname “le petit clown des marais” or the little clown of the marshes.
These hardworking, ugly dogs are good with kids, other dogs, and (nice) people. Highly trainable, intelligent, and affectionate, they’re known for their hunting skills. According to the AKC, they point firmly and are the largest of the spaniel breeds.
If only their looks mirrored their talent.
10. The Puli
(Pulik is the plural of Puli for those of you who have a burning desire to know.)
The Puli, an ancient breed and ugly dog, is the mini-me (25-35 lbs.) of the Komondor – The same corded fur but shorter in stature. Energetic and friendly, they’re a sheepdog breed introduced to Hungary by the Magyars (early Hungarians). They have a deep loyalty to their human beings and are an affectionate and playful companion.
They’re powerful herders, extremely agile, and excel in agility events. The breed is lovingly called the ‘acrobat of the dog world.’ They require lots of physical and mental stimulation, so if you’re a couch potato, check out hamsters.
The Puli’s undercoat is soft, wooly, and quite dense, while their outer coat is long and corded (except for puppies who grow into their dreads). Their vision isn’t hindered by the famous fur that hangs over their faces since that’s how they were developed and have evolved.
The Puli Club of America was founded in 1951 and thinks the Puli is the cat’s meow. Or maybe the dog’s bark.
11. English Bull Terrier
Talk about a face only a mother could love, the English bull terrier wins the prize for the strangest face and head shape. Centuries ago, “blood sports” involving bull and bear baiting dogs were outlawed. Consequently, in 1835 in England, dog fighting raised its ugly head in order to replace the heinous “sport.”
Breeders wanted to make a breed that was more agile and smaller, so they crossed bull-baiting dogs with terriers and created the bull terrier breed.
Then, around 1860, James Hinks crossed the bull terrier with the white English terrier and the Dalmatian, which resulted in an all-white bull terrier.
Due to its courageous nature, it was nicknamed the “white cavalier.”
Around 1900, this ugly breed was crossed with Staffordshire bull terriers, which brought color to the English bull terrier.
Since 1936, we’ve had two varieties of them:
12. Scottish Deerhound
“The royal dog of Scottland”
Gentle and easygoing, the deerhound is just as comfortable hanging out with his humans as he is spending time with your other dogs.
With wiry and shaggy fur, he looks like a greyhound who got roughed up a little. The homely Scottish deerhound weighs 75 lbs-110 lbs. He was bred to hunt the giant wild red deer (no easy prey) in the Scottish Highlands. His courage is impressive. Can you imagine taking down a 400-lb. deer with huge antlers?
No one ranked lower than an Earl could be their guardian during the Age of Chivalry. (Should we bow and curtsy?) Sir Walter Scott owned a deerhound named Maida, who he called “a most perfect creature of heaven.”
And even though they love to run and chase “things,” they don’t do fetch well. They’re energetic but can lounge around with the best of them. He also might lick an intruder to death but not chase him away.
He’s a goodun’. (That’s what they say in the South where I’m from.)
Square, muscular, and amusing, these comical dogs are an ancient breed from Asia. They’re the largest of the toy breeds, and here’s an interesting tidbit: A group of pugs is called a “grumble.”
The pug was developed largely in the Netherlands, then traveled to England with William III and Mary II, who took over the throne in 1688.
Word spread quickly on these amicable dogs, and they developed fans in the courts of Europe, including Queen Victoria. She had 36 of the flat-faced pups and bred and showed them. Pugs were first introduced to the US in the 19th century.
Here’s proof that pugs are excellent companions. In 2022, pugs were number 35 on the AKC’s “Most Popular Dog Breeds” list. (Out of 199, not bad.)
They’re great with children, sometimes a little goofy, and if you don’t have a good sense of humor, you may not “get” them. You can call them smart, but you can’t call them adorable.
14. Irish Wolfhound
This giant guy (105-120 lbs.) walks around looking like he needs a shower and a shave.
Irish wolfhounds were a little royal themselves and were in the courts of England’s Edward III, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I. They were also given as royal gifts.
These odd-looking dogs are the tallest of the AKC breeds in the hound group and are incredible hunters. So good that they hunted wolves to extinction in Britain and Ireland. By the 18th century, the breed was dwindling.
After 1862, due to Captain George Graham, the Irish wolfhound started to thrive.
His appearance might be raggedy, but he’s one of the sweetest dogs on this list. Now someone please go show them to the washroom.
This shows how popular this facially-challenged this breed is. There is a downfall with them, though, and that is what could be a major health issue.
Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome: a condition in brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose and squashed face) where breathing is obstructed and can lead to reduced ability to exercise or even severe respiratory distress.
The bulldog’s dark eyes are hooded, and if you wear makeup, you know what I’m talking about. Let’s end on a high note: These are family dogs since they’re great with kids and will give you hours of entertainment.
Ugliest Mixed Dog Breeds
We’ve all seen a dog that just doesn’t look quite right. That’s probably because its parents were breeds that, well, shouldn’t have dated. It’s usually a mutt, and here’s a list of what I’m talking about:
- Border terrier and Chinese crested
- Chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier
- Dachshund and Shar Pei
- Poodle and Scottish Deerhound
- Griffon Nivernais and American pitbull terrier
These dogs may not be much to look at, but you can guarantee some of them will be the most intelligent and well-behaved companions you’ll ever meet. So what if they’re not Designer Dogs?
The World’s Ugliest Dog Contest
During the fourth week of June and for almost 50 years now, the World’s Ugliest Dog contest has been held in Petaluma, California, at the Sonoma Marin Fair. It’s simple… Judges pick the top dog that makes people go, “Ew.” Owners from all over the world bring their buddies to try and win the moniker. The contest took a two-year break during COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021.
This event rolls out the red carpet for dog breeds that could use a little more Brad Pitt and a little less Brad Garrett. It’s one competition that never lacks contestants. These are the key points they try to make.
It’s not a contest that mocks dog breeds but one that fosters the idea of adopting your new best friend in hopes you’ll do just that. It also makes the point that all dogs are unique and beautiful.
And who has been crowned previously? Past winners of the contest include:
- 2022 — Mr. Happy Face! (Brings new meaning to the word “ugly.”)
- 2019 — Scamp the Tramp, a former stray
- 2018 — Zsa Zsa, an English bulldog
- 2017 — Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff
- 2016 — Sweepee Rambo, a 17-year-old Chinese crested
Keep your ears perked for next year’s contest, or if you have an ugly dog, go there yourself, and he (and you) could be a celebrity.
Now, I’ve been asked to pick my number one ugly dog, and the winner of the world’s ugliest dog is…
The Chinese crested. Those ears. That skin. The hair! And I’m not being complimentary. Although Mother Nature doesn’t make mistakes, this could stand out as a tiny one. But these dogs hold a special place in my heart. They get made fun of a lot, and I always pull for the underdog.
Who Won the Ugliest Dog Contest This Year?
Scooter(!) is a 7-year-old Chinese Crested dog who’s as lovable as he is ugly. He won the World’s Ugliest Dog contest in 2023.
What Makes a Dog Ugly?
Scraggly fur, uneven faces, genetic deformities, and/or odd-shaped bodies can be seen as ugly. But as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Like, Borzoi dogs may seem ugly to some but some might find their long face attractive.
What’s the Adoption Percentage of Ugly Dogs?
Although there aren’t statistics on how many people adopt ugly dogs, 40% of dogs and 43% of cats are adopted from animal shelters yearly. You can estimate that not even half of these are animals that are less than aesthetically pleasing. It’s more likely a very small percentage since most people look for cute dogs.
And that, my friends, is all the scoop on ugly dogs. If you have one, our condolences, but if you don’t, you might be missing out. There are no bad dogs, so whatever you have, they deserve all the love and care they can get. These pooches are funny to look at some of the time and precious to own all the time.
My favorite dog in the world was one I had that had a deformed face. After being horribly abused and then rescued by me, he was the most affectionate, sweetest dog I’ve ever known. He may have been ugly, but his heart was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It was an honor to be in this dog’s life.
If you’re on the fence between getting an ugly dog or a pretty one for your family, our suggestion is this… Be on the lookout for the ugliest dog in the rescue or shelter. Because someone’s “I can’t be the owner of an ugly dog” could be your “I’ve never had a better friend.”