The 2012 winner, crowned on June 22, is eight-year-old Mugly, a bald and beady-eyed crested who sports stringy whiskers weirdly reminiscent of dental floss. (See a picture of Miss Ellie, 2009 World's Ugliest Dog.)
"If you see a lot of hairless people, for instance, all of a sudden you're going to start noticing moles and weird skin," Boyko said. "It just makes everything else that's weird stand out more." In the case of the Chinese crested, the crinkly, mottled skin is prominently displayed.
"Presumably it's just an ancient mutation that happened one time, and breeders liked it and propagated it," Boyko said. "You don't see packs of wild hairless dogs running around." (Read Boyko's thoughts on the roots of semiwild "village" dogs.)
"It's people saying, Yeah, let's have small dogs. Let's have hairless dogs, because we don't want them to shed, or because we live somewhere hot, or, you know, just because they're weird."
How does hairlessness affect the dog?
"We don't really know [of any benefits]. Maybe [the dog] cools off faster," Boyko muses. "But then there's also sunburn. In Peru hairless dogs are almost always wearing sweaters. When you take them off you can see tan lines."
But there may be one advantage: Bragging rights in the ugly dog contest.