Zsa Zsa, the canine who recently won the world’s ugliest dog title, has died. She was 9 years old. Zsa Zsa’s owner, Megan Brainard, told media outlets that her death was unexpected and that she died in her sleep.
“I’m still in shock… It’s kind of like when she won (the World’s Ugliest Dog contest),” she said in an interview with Today. “It’s been two weeks and I still don’t believe it. It’s probably going to be the same with her passing.”
Zsa Zsa, an English bulldog, charmed the judges at the annual competition with her large floppy tongue, underbite, exaggerated jowls, and bow-legged strut. Brainard said that the pooch seemed to really enjoy the amount of attention she got after her win.
“She never really showed much excitement but yes, she was definitely living it up after she won,” the owner added.
Zsa Zsa, named after classic film actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, had something of a Cinderella story. According to Today, she was rescued from a puppy mill by an animal-focused NGO named Underdog Rescue. Brainard eventually found her via PetFinder.com.
As Today notes, last year’s winner of the world’s ugliest dog title, a 3-year-old Neapolitan Mastiff named Martha, was a rescue as well.
On Twitter, fans of Zsa expressed their remorse on the news of her passing.
“To me, she was one of the loveliest, sweetest, most beautiful dogs I’ve ever met,” wrote Janice Dean, senior meteorologist on Fox News. “You were loved sweet Zsa Zsa. You were loved.”
Brainard revealed that they’ve already buried Zsa after a short ceremony that honored the special place she held in their family. Even Mareslie, her 15-month-old daughter, got involved.
“We were all saying our goodbyes and Mareslie went right over and gave her a kiss. It was sweet. She was waving at her,” her mother said.
English bulldogs like Zsa Zsa are prone to a long list of health problems because of how they have been bred over the years. According to Pet Helpful, some of these health issues can include hip dysplasia, heart disease, a compromised thyroid, and deafness.
They can also develop a respiratory condition called brachycephalic airway syndrome as a result of its unique facial characteristics. This syndrome can restrict their breathing, and dogs who have it tend to find it easier to breathe through their mouths instead of their noses. In serious cases, dogs will faint after exercise.
Due to reproductive challenges, most are conceived via artificial insemination and born via c-section. Many people love these bulldogs because of the deep wrinkles in their faces, but these can lead to serious skin disorders like eczema, seborrhea, hot spots, and acne.