Elwood the dog, who was named the ugliest in the world in 2007 and whose story inspired a popular children’s book, has died unexpectedly at the age of eight.
His US owner Karen Quigley has confirmed the death, and said that while he had been suffering from some health issues in recent months he had appeared to be making a good recovery.
“Elwood made people smile, he made them laugh and feel good. It was wonderful,” Ms Quigley said. “He will truly be missed.”
A mixed breed of Chihuahua and Chinese crested, Elwood was dark-coloured and almost completely hairless, with the exception of a distinctive puff of white fur on his head. Fans likened him to famous science fiction aliens such as Yoda or ET.
In 2005, when he was about nine months old, Elwood was almost put down by his breeder because of his unusual appearance.
He was rescued by Ms Quigley, of Sewell, New Jersey, who said: “The breeder was going to euthanise him because she thought he was too ugly to sell.”
Elwood was named the world’s ugliest dog in 2007 at the annual contest at the Sonoma-Marin County Fair in California. He had come second in the competition the year before.
After his crowning success, Elwood became a star of the dog celebrity world. During his lifetime he made guest appearances at more than 200 charity events and helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal rescue groups and not-for-profit animal organisations.
Inspired by his story, Ms Quigley wrote Everyone Loves Elwood, a popular children's book that aims to promote a message of acceptance. She said she wanted her dog’s life to inspire lessons of love, compassion and perseverance and that the book encourages readers to be kind to animals.