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Who Let the Dogs Out… And Which One of Them Will Be Crowned the Most Beautiful Bulldog?

Imagine being a dog: free food and cuddles, belly rubs whenever you want and all the attention in the world. What could be better than that? Being crowned the Beautiful Bulldog winner in a pageant for dogs. This became a reality for Myrtle Mae, a 5-year-old female rescue bulldog, in the 42nd Beautiful Bulldog contest in 2021.

This year, Drake University will host the 43rd annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest on Monday, April 25 at 6 p.m. 30 bulldogs and five alternates will compete in this year’s pageant. 

“Moose was very excited and confused when I told him he’s a finalist,” said Shae Ashley from West Des Moines, Iowa, the owner of one of the bulldogs selected for this year’s contest.

The Beautiful Bulldog Contest began as an attempt to get more Des Moines alumni involved at Drake. The winner of the contest traditionally serves as the mascot for that year’s Relays. 

The judges will choose a bulldog who exemplifies the image of Drake’s legendary sports symbol, the bulldog. Although there is only one “Most Beautiful” prize, there will be many other awards that the bulldogs can win, such as the “Best Dressed” award. 

But the event isn’t just about crowning a champion; it also helps dog rescue organizations. In 2021, Drake University collaborated with the dog toy brand KONG to promote a few organizations, such as the Animal Rescue League and the Animal Lifeline of Iowa.

In conjunction with the Beautiful Bulldog contest and lottery, the Griff Gives Back Campaign is a pet food drive that pet lovers can contribute to. Since starting the Griff Gives Back Campaign, Drake has raised over 71,000 pounds of food for The Pet Project Midwest. The goal for the 2022 campaign is 15,000 pounds of dog and cat food.

“There are many ways pet lovers can participate,” said Steve Barry, Master of Ceremonies for the contest. “You can mail your donation to Drake University, call or order online with a local pet store, order from our Amazon wish list, drop off at one of our collection sites or bring it with you to the contest.” 

This will be the first time since the 2019 Drake Relays that the Beautiful Bulldog Contest will be held without any restrictions.  In 2020, Drake University held a virtual Beautiful Bulldog contest, with voting taking place via Facebook to decide the winner. The 2021 contest was again held at the Knapp Center with some precautions such as face masks and social distancing. 

As the official mascot and arguably most beloved bulldog at Drake, Griff II expressed excitement on his Instagram page, run by his owner Erin Bell. He said via Instagram that the drawing of the contestants was a big night. 

“Don’t worry though, I’m still your #1,” Griff said.


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