Costume-loving pug beats off ‘fierce’ competition to be crowned UK’s cutest dog

A pet owner has spoken of her pride after her pup Dudley was named the UK's cutest dog.

Deby Bannister, from Cheddleton, in the Staffordshire Moorlands north-east of Stoke-on-Trent, put all four of her dogs into a competition run by online greetings card retailer Thortful to celebrate International Dog Day.

It was two-year-old pug "Cuddly Dudley" who caught the public's attention and, after more than 2,000 entries and votes, he was crowned the winner.

"I'm always sending photos of the dogs in to things like that. I actually forgot that I'd sent it in, so it was a surprise when I got a message telling me that Dudley had made the top 10," Deby told the Stoke Sentinel.

"I started up a little campaign on Facebook and Instagram to encourage everyone to vote, and all my friends really got behind him. I'm made up that he won and very proud.

"There is a big pug community and we always attend pug parties and go to pug cafes, things like that.

"In the past we have attended Valentine's parties, Halloween parties, and there are always lots of photo opportunities and the chance to get dressed up.

"Dudley has lots of outfits, such as Halloween costumes, Hawaiian shirts, we even got him a 'thank you NHS ' top."

Deby and her husband Steve have had Dudley since he was 12 weeks old.

She said: "We have three other dogs – Paddy, Somba and Beau – and Dudley loves playing with his brothers.

"Dudley is very loving and can be very clingy, he always wants to be with you. He's great with people and very treat orientated."

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And the competition isn't Dudley's first time in the spotlight. He is also the star of his own Instagram page, boasting more than 600 followers, and attracting fans from all over the world.

Deby added: "I follow everyone else's lead really as there are a lot of dog accounts out there. It's a great community.

"I've had messages and comments from people as far away as America and Australia. You'll never meet these people, but it's a really positive environment."

Despite the global attention, some messages have provided much-needed support for Deby and her family after she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in November 2018, and began to follow "Cookie Crew" – run by someone with the same illness.

She said: "I managed to create such a brilliant bond with Cookie's dad. The whole experience provided me with so much support during a difficult time – I made a genuine friendship."

A spokesman for thortful.com said: "We are thrilled to announce that Cuddly Dudley has been crowned King of the Canines and want to thank all the dogs – and their owners – for taking part, as the competition was fierce."

The full range of dog cards can be found on Thortful's website.

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