World's Ugliest Dog Contest

Martha is big, ugly, lazy and gassy. And a world champion.

In a competition annually dominated by the old, the tiny, and the hairless, the 3-year-old, 125-pound Neapolitan Mastiff used her lollygagging youth to win the 29th annual World’s Ugliest Dog Contest.

She was a favorite of the Northern California crowd from the start, often plopping down on her side on stage with her droopy face spread across the ground when she was supposed to be showing off. The judges didn’t even need to hear her signature snore to give her the award.

“Do you know you just won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest?” asked Kerry Sanders of NBC News, one of three judges who gave Martha the crown. Her handler Shirley Zindler answered for her: “I’d gloat, but I need a nap.”

Martha lumbered away with $1,500, a flashy trophy and a trip to New York for media appearances, all things she could hardly care less about.

The dog, from nearby Sebastopol, was rescued when she was nearly blind from neglect by the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project in Sonoma County, where the contest was held. After several surgeries, she can now see again, Zindler said.

The only animal in this year’s contest too big to be held by her handler, Martha beat out 13 other dogs, most of them the kind of older, smaller dogs who win here.

Moe, a 16-year-old Brussels Griffon-pug mix from Santa Rosa, California, who was the oldest in the competition, came in second. He had lost his hearing and sight but his sense of smell is strong and he was enjoying all the smells at the Sonoma-Marin Fair where the contest is held, including funnel cakes and other fried goodies.

Chase, a 14-year-old Chinese Crested-Harke mix, came all the way from Neath, United Kingdom to take third place.

The contestants were judged on first impressions, unusual attributes, personality and audience reaction.

Many of the contestants were adopted. Monkey, a 6-year-old Brussels Griffon, and Icky, an 8-year-old unknown breed, were both rescued from the homes of hoarders.

These dogs — some with acne, others with tongues permanently sticking out — are used to getting called ugly. But for their owners, it was love at first sight.

“He’s my sexy boy,” Vicky Adler, of Davis, California, said of her 8-year-old Chinese Crested named Zoomer.

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First place winner Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff

Shirley Zindler, of Sebastopol, Calif, lifts up the jowls of Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff, during the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Third-place winner Chase, a Chinese crested dog

A Chinese crested dog named Chase looks on during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Icky, a Chinese crested mix, with owner

Jon Adler of Davis, California, holds his mixed breed dog named Icky during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rascal, a Chinese crested dog

A Chinese crested dog named Rascal looks on during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Josie, a Chinese crested mix, with owner

Linda Elmquist, of Tucson, Ariz., holds up Josie, her Chinese crested mix, before the start of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Precious, a Chihuahua, competes

Precious, a Chihuahua, competes in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Icky looks on

A mixed breed dog named Icky looks on during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Chase walks the stage

A Chinese crested dog named Chase walks on stage during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Second-place winner Moe, a Brussel griffon pug

Moe, a Brussel griffon pug, from Santa Rosa, Calif., waits to compete in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Rascal on the red carpet

A Chinese crested dog named Rascal stands on the red carpet during the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Rascal gets a kiss

Dane Andrew of Sunnyvale, Calif., kisses his dog, Rascal, a Chinese crested, before the start of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Martha’s proud owner Shirley Zindler laughs

Shirley Zindler, of Sebastopol, Calif., reacts after her dog Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff, won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. At right is judge Kerry Sanders. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Winner Martha rests on stage

A Neapolitan Mastiff named Martha rests on the stage after after winning the 2017 World’s Ugliest Dog contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on June 23, 2017 in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Moe with owner after winnering second place

Miriam Cheng of Santa Rosa, Calif., holds up Moe, a Brussel griffon pug, who took finished second during the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair Friday, June 23, 2017, in Petaluma, Calif. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

Winner Martha and owner Shirley Zindler share a moment

Shirley Zindler, of Sebastopol, Calif., sits with her dog Martha, a Neapolitan mastiff, who won the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest at the Sonoma-Marin Fair on Friday, June 23, 2017. (Photo: Eric Risberg/AP)

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