10 Shelter Dog Finalists In Dirty Dogs Contest Need Your Vote

10 Shelter Dog Finalists In Dirty Dogs Contest Need Your Vote

Photo: Espanola Humane

Over three million dogs enter shelters each year, and many arrived matted and dirty. According to pet industry leader, Wahl, "Three out of four animals entering shelters today are in need of grooming."

The pets are weighed down by the matted fur and are unable to see or move properly. They desperately need to be groomed to look and feel their best for potential adopters.

First impressions mean everything to a shelter dog. Adopters are more likely to inquire about a freshly groomed pet with an adorable picture over a matted dog.


That's why Wahl, Greater Good Charities, and The Animal Rescue Site have teamed up to provide shelters nationwide with grooming products to transform dogs and help them find a forever home.

In addition to the donation of grooming products, an annual contest is held to find the top three dirty dogs from shelters and reveal their amazing makeovers. The winning dogs will earn grant money for their shelter - first place wins $10,000, second place receives $3,000, and third place earns $2,000.

Wahl has just announced the top ten finalists for this year's contest. The winners are decided based on the number of votes each dog receives. The voting has begun for the 13th Dirty Dog Contest, and you can vote daily through May 31.

Meet all the dogs below and don't forget to vote for your favorite.



Apollo Support and Rescue in Texas shared Pete's story.

"In a heartbreaking twist of fate, Pete's world was turned upside down when his owner tragically passed away, leaving him abandoned and neglected in a backyard. Alone and disheveled, this sweet pup relied on the kindness of a surviving family member who came once a week to feed Pete. They did the best they could. Pete lived for a little over a year all by himself. When Pete was rescued, he was covered in over 2 lbs of filth, feces, and matted hair. It took over two hours of grooming to unveil the handsome boy he truly is. With the support of a caring foster, Pete's spirit has been reignited as he began to heal both physically and emotionally, rediscovering happiness and trust along the way. Now, Pete is on a mission to find his forever home - a place filled with love, care, and the bright future he deserves."



Doggie Protective Services in California shared how a severely neglected and matted dog got the name "Winky".

Winky was rescued along with four other dogs from deplorable conditions. Even though he was clearly neglected for a long time, he was still friendly with volunteers and staff and rolled on his back for belly rubs.

They brought him to a groomer where he spent "several painstaking hours over the course of three days shaving off the heavy mats that had encased his tiny body," shared the rescue.

They went on to say, "To our surprise, when we were finally able to cut the tangled mess of hair on his face, we realized that he had only one eye! We affectionately dubbed him Winky and off to his foster home he went for some much needed TLC."

His adorable little face won the heart of a loving family who adopted him, and he is now living his best life.



This stray dog from Tennessee arrived in desperate need of a warm bath and grooming. Since she arrived at Williamson County Animal Center as a stray, no one knows how she ended up on her own. However, it is clear she has been homeless for some time.

A local groomer saw Maddie's photo as the shelter's "stray of the day" and stepped up to help. Several hours later, the matted and dirty fur was removed, and Maddie looked and felt much better. She is ready to find her forever home.



Arizona Humane Society took in a neglected senior dog and transformed her look and life. Read her story below.

"Now 12-years-young, Bella is a Miniature Poodle who came to the Arizona Humane Society as an owner surrender after her owner fell ill and there was no one else to care for her. It was clear she was in need some much-needed TLC with the shelter's groomer who helped her feel and look her best. Additionally, she received a dental and was quickly adopted into her forever home in Chandler, AZ where she gets lots of love and care!"



Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS)shares how they rescued a neglected dog and gave him a second chance.

"Talk about a glow up! Bailey, a sweet 8-year old dog, underwent quite the transformation here at PAWS. Sadly, he came to us when his previous owner was diagnosed with dementia and could no longer care for him. Despite his age, Bailey showed plenty of energy from the start. However, his facial expressions, tail and ear positions were obscured by severe matting. Thanks to a much-needed spa day, Bailey emerged refreshed and transformed. In foster care, he quickly charmed everyone with his playful antics and excellent doggy communication skills, even if he had a penchant for raiding the trash! Bailey eventually found his happy ending with a loving family who adores his gentle nature and laid-back personality. From rummaging through the trash to being a cherished companion, we couldn't be happier for this sweet boy!"



Humane Society of Pinellas in Florida shared Pancake's sad story but it has a happy ending.

"Meet Pancake, a one-year-old pup whose journey tugs at the heartstrings. He came to our shelter from a neglectful situation, his bright spirit dimmed by severe matting that hindered his every move. His eyes, hidden beneath tangled fur, silently begged for help. Our medical team sprang into action upon his arrival, recognizing the urgency of Pancake's condition. Beneath the mats, his skin bore the marks of neglect, irritated and parched, a testament to the hardships he endured. With tender care and unwavering dedication, we set out to restore Pancake's well-being. Faced with his discomfort, we made the decision to perform his grooming under anesthesia, prioritizing his comfort and health above all else. As Pancake emerged from his slumber, he blossomed into a new being, shedding his discomfort along with the matted layers of his past. In just four short days, Pancake worked his magic on everyone he encountered, his infectious joy permeating through the shelter walls. But his time with us was fleeting, for destiny had a different path in store. A loving family stumbled upon Pancake's photo on our website, drawn to his newfound radiance. They arrived before dawn, eager hearts brimming with anticipation, waiting patiently for the chance to make Pancake a part of their lives. And when they finally met, it was a moment of undeniable connection and a bond forged in mere minutes, yet destined to last a lifetime. With laughter and tears of joy, Pancake embarked on his journey to a forever home, leaving behind a legacy of resilience and love that will linger in our hearts forever."



Rocket Dog Rescue in California told a heart-wrenching story about Moe and his siblings who were rescued from a hoarding situation and never experienced a kind touch - until now.

"Moe arrived to Rocket Dog Rescue along with three others that were likely his siblings- after they were discovered living under piles of household garbage, urine and feces in a terribly sad case of severe neglect and hoarding. It was clear they had never been touched with kindness, or at all really. When they arrived, we immediately went to work to help them, they were washed and groomed, their eyes looking at us, worried and unsure, but their hearts ready to trust and to accept love. Touching their bodies must have felt so alien to them since they had lived their lives up till then under layers of filth and matted hair. At first they would jump at our touch, but in a short time they began to blossom, a new hope sparked in their eyes as they would quietly sneak over to us for snuggles, learning all about trust and what love felt like- ready to step in to a brand new day, new possibilities and a new home where he will never experience, fear or discomfort again, little Moe- we got ya buddy...every day is a good day from now on."


Thompson River Animal Care Shelter in Montana shared Dolly's story and why grooming is so important in helping shelter dogs feel better and increase their chances of finding a loving home.

"Dolly transferred to us from Abilene, TX via Dog Is My Copilot. Dolly, about 41 pounds is a standard poodle (or doodle) who came to our rescue with 2 of her siblings. They were all total messes and had likely never seen a groomer. One of our staff persons stated that they were almost too "gross" to handle and smelled just as bad! All got to the groomer and once 'after' photos were posted to their profiles, all were rapidly adopted. She is now totally gorgeous, red, soft, and curly! And such a nice Girl too! Grooming is key for a lot of our incoming dogs as most are in similar circumstances as Dolly where they are filthy, smelly, matted and frequently have underlying infections that may not be seen right away due to the condition of their coat. Sometimes we find lesions too that need to be resolved before adoption. Grooming is key to the longer coated dogs and helps get them into homes faster! Thank you for your vote!!!"



Espanola Humane in New Mexico helped transform the life of a severely neglected senior dog.

"Giuseppe arrived as a stray to Espanola Humane in a shocking state of neglect. His entire body was covered in painful, filthy mats of fur, so thick that he couldn't even walk, and his entire body was screaming in pain. We shaved five pounds of matted fur off of him. Read that again. Five. Pounds. Beneath all of that, we found a morbidly obese, absolutely terrified senior dog in sensory overload - he didn't like to be touched, he was overwhelmed by light and sound, and he wanted nothing to do with humans. Unfortunately, Giuseppe was also diagnosed with hypothyroidism, his lungs were full of fluid, and he needed a dental and neuter surgery. Through medical foster care and medications, his thyroid levels have stabilized, his lungs have improved. And the best part? He found a new home. His adopter, Donna, says he is now housetrained, follows her and her pack of senior dogs everywhere, and he's learning to accept more pets and love. It's never too late for a second chance and a new beginning."



The Sanctuary at Haafsville in Pennsylvania has a story to tell about an abused and neglected dog who has finally a loving home.

"Fred was time-stamped at a city shelter when we were able to rescue him. He had come from an abusive situation. He was in rough shape when we picked him up to come to the Sanctuary. His fur was all matted with urine, feces, and maggots to the point that he wasn't even comfortable being touched. Sweet Fred quickly received the proper medical care that he needed. After receiving the grooming he needed and the love he deserved, Fred was a new dog! Fred was fostered by a loving couple who had recently lost two of their dogs. However, it soon became obvious that Fred was home! He was adopted by his foster family and is now living the good life."

These amazing transformations were made possible due to Wahl's donation of pet shampoos, dedicated groomers, and your support. While these dogs are all winners, they are hoping to win some money for the shelter that took them in and gave them a second chance.

Vote now for your favorite makeover and be sure to check back in June to find out who was named the top three dirtiest dogs. This contest demonstrates the power grooming can have on pet adoption. Support shelters and help them care for even more dirty dogs by donating here.
Back to blog