When you see a hairless dog, what is your first reaction? Do you consider them a little strange, become curious, or think they are just plain ugly?
Award-winning photographer Sophie Gamand decided to look beyond the “ugly” label and photograph her series of hairless dogs, titled Prophecy, from a different camera-eyed view.
“To me, they are as beautiful as wise old men, shamans, prophets. There is something otherworldly about them. I felt their faces wanted to communicate something deeper,” Gamand told us.
Gamand believes humans have a special responsibility toward all dogs because of our domestication of them. “We have created dogs millennia ago, and since then we have created breeds and subdued an entire species,” she adds.
For the past 25 years, the annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest, held every year in Petaluma, Calif., has raised awareness about hairless dogs. The contest “is not about making fun of ‘ugly’ dogs, but having fun with some wonderful characters and showing the world that these dogs are really beautiful!” Still, there are some among us are not able to look beyond the physical and will only see these unique and proud dogs as ugly. Too bad for them.
The types of hairless dogs
Chinese Cresteds are bred specifically to be hairless while the Xolos are a result of natural selection, thought to be a result of the climate of Central and South America. The Cresteds seem to have calmer, reserved personalities while the Xolos tend to be instinct-driven, independent creatures.
And then there are the mixed breeds, like Elwood, the winner of 2007 World’s Ugliest Dog. He was a Chinese Crested/Chihuahua mix. Elwood took his fame and garnered it into a mission to help others by acting as a therapy dog for a child with alopecia, visiting nursing home patients and donating his earnings to shelters and other animal charities.
More about Sophie Gamand
“I felt sad for these dogs who always win the world ugliest dog contest,” Gamand told us. “I wanted to see if I could capture their peculiar beauty with photography, without making fun of them. I wanted them to look dignified, glorious.”
For her Prophecy series, Gamand contacted hairless dog rescue organizations, including Bald is Beautiful and Bare Paws Rescue, to find models, as well as ethical breeders from the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America. The photos are striking, beautiful and haunting all at the same time. I’d say she has bestowed a warm light on hairless dogs, don’t you agree?
French-born and living in New York City, Gamand donates her time and talents to local animal shelters. She photographs dogs for adoption–pro bono–and advises shelter staff on techniques for taking flattering photos of the animals in order to secure adoptions.
She also promotes awareness campaigns that champion the more difficult to adopt dogs, like Flower Power: Pit Bulls of the Revolution. This series highlights pit bulls still available for adoption in shelters.
All wearing flower bouquets on their heads, these pitties look the image of the gentle breed they were born to be. Remember, it wasn’t until present times that pit bulls got the bad reputation they have today due to irresponsible humans training pit bulls to fight each other to the death. In the early twentieth century pit bulls were considered a “nanny dog” because of their undying loyalty to their people.
It seems to me Gamand has captured the inner soul of hairless dogs in her work with the perception only an animal lover and talented photographer can. So, what do you think? Are hairless dogs ugly or wise? Let us know in your comments below.