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The Maltese Dog And The Pug








No doubt has been cast upon the belief that the small, white, silky
Canis Melitaeus is the most ancient of all the lap dogs of the
Western world. It was a favourite in the time of Phidias; it was an
especial pet of the great ladies of Imperial Rome. It appears to have
come originally from the Adriatic island of Melita rather than from
the Mediterranean Malta, although this supposition cannot be verified.
There is, however, no question that it is of European origin, and that
the breed, as we know it to-day, has altered exceedingly little in
type and size since it was alluded to by Aristotle more than three
hundred years before the Christian era. One may gather from various
references in literature, and from the evidence of art, that it was
highly valued in ancient times. When his favourite dog dies, wrote
Theophrastus in illustration of the vain man, he deposits the remains
in a tomb, and erects a monument over the grave, with the inscription,
'Offspring of the stock of Malta.'

The offspring of the stock of Malta were probably first imported
into England during the reign of Henry VIII. It is certain that they
were regarded as meet playfellows for mincing mistresses in the
reign of Elizabeth, whose physician, Dr. Caius, alluded to them as
being distinct from the Spaniel, gentle or comforter.

Early writers aver that it was customary when Maltese puppies were
born to press or twist the nasal bone with the fingers in order that
they may seem more elegant in the sight of men--a circumstance which
goes to show that our forefathers were not averse to improving
artificially the points of their dogs.

The snowy whiteness and soft, silky texture of its coat must always
cause the Maltese dog to be admired; but the variety has never been
commonly kept in England--a fact which is, no doubt, due to the
difficulty of breeding it and to the trouble in keeping the dog's long
jacket clean and free from tangle. Thirty or forty years ago it was
more popular as a lap dog than it has ever been since, and in the
early days of dog shows many beautiful specimens were exhibited. This
popularity was largely due to the efforts of Mr. R. Mandeville, of
Southwark, who has been referred to as virtually the founder of the
modern Maltese. His Fido and Lily were certainly the most perfect
representatives of the breed during the decade between 1860 and 1870,
and at the shows held at Birmingham, Islington, the Crystal Palace,
and Cremorne Gardens, this beautiful brace was unapproachable.

It is a breed which to be kept in perfection requires more than
ordinary attention, not only on account of its silky jacket, which is
peculiarly liable to become matted, and is difficult to keep
absolutely clean without frequent washing, but also on account of a
somewhat delicate constitution, the Maltese being susceptible to colds
and chills. If affected by such causes, the eyes are often attacked,
and the water running from them induces a brown stain to mar the
beauty of the face. Skin eruptions due to unwise feeding, or parasites
due to uncleanliness, are quickly destructive to the silky coat, and
constant watchfulness is necessary to protect the dog from all
occasion for scratching. The diet is an important consideration
always, and a nice discernment is imperative in balancing the
proportions of meat and vegetable. Too much meat is prone to heat the
blood, while too little induces eczema. Scraps of bread and green
vegetables well mixed with gravy and finely-minced lean meat form the
best dietary for the principal meal of the day, and plenty of exercise
is imperative.

The following is the standard description and points of the Maltese
Club of London:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Should not be too narrow, but should be of a Terrier shape, not
too long, but not apple-headed. EARS--Should be long and well
feathered, and hang close to the side of the head, the hair to be well
mingled with the coat at the shoulders. EYES--Should be a dark brown,
with black eye rims and not too far apart. NOSE--Should be pure black.
LEGS AND FEET--Legs should be short and straight, feet round, and the
pads of the feet should be black. BODY AND SHAPE--Should be short and
cobby, low to the ground, and the back should be straight from the top
of the shoulders to the tail. TAIL AND CARRIAGE--Should be well arched
over the back and well feathered. COAT, LENGTH AND TEXTURE--Should be
a good length, the longer the better, of a silky texture, not in any
way woolly, and should be straight. COLOUR--It is desirable that they
should be pure white, but slight lemon marks should not count against
them. CONDITION AND APPEARANCE--Should be of a sharp Terrier
appearance, with a lively action, the coat should not be stained, but
should be well groomed in every way. SIZE--The most approved weights
should be from 4 lb. to 9 lb., the smaller the better, but it is
desirable that they should not exceed 10 lb.

* * * * *

There seems to be no doubt that the fawn-coloured Pug enjoys the
antiquity of descent that is attached to the Greyhound, the Maltese
dog, and some few other venerable breeds.

Although much has been written on the origin of these dogs, nothing
authentic has been discovered in connection with it. Statements have
appeared from time to time to the effect that the Pug was brought into
this country from Holland. In the early years of the last century it
was commonly styled the Dutch Pug. But this theory does not trace the
history far enough back, and it should be remembered that at that
period the Dutch East India Company was in constant communication with
the Far East. Others declare that Muscovy was the original home of the
breed, a supposition for which there is no discernible foundation. The
study of canine history receives frequent enlightenment from the study
of the growth of commercial intercourse between nations, and the trend
of events would lead one to the belief that the Pug had its origin in
China, particularly in view of the fact that it is with that country
that most of the blunt-nosed toy dogs, with tails curled over their
backs, are associated.

The Pug was brought into prominence in Great Britain about sixty years
ago by Lady Willoughby de Eresby, of Grimthorpe, near Lincoln, and Mr.
Morrison, of Walham Green, who each independently established a kennel
of these dogs, with such success that eventually the fawn Pugs were
spoken of as either the Willoughby or the Morrison Pugs. At that
period the black variety was not known. The Willoughby Pug was duller
in colour than the Morrison, which was of a brighter, ruddier hue, but
the two varieties have since been so much interbred that they are now
undistinguishable, and the fact that they were ever familiarly
recognised as either Willoughbys or Morrisons is almost entirely
forgotten. A fawn Pug may now be either silver grey or apricot, and
equally valuable.

Whatever may have been the history of the Pug as regards its nativity,
it had not been long introduced into England before it became a
popular favourite as a pet, and it shared with the King Charles
Spaniel the affection of the great ladies of the land. The late Queen
Victoria possessed one, of which she was very proud. The Pug has,
however, now fallen from his high estate as a ladies' pet, and his
place has been usurped by the Toy Pomeranian, the Pekinese, and
Japanese, all of which are now more highly thought of in the
drawing-room or boudoir. But the Pug has an advantage over all these
dogs as, from the fact that he has a shorter coat, he is cleaner and
does not require so much attention.

It was not until the establishment of the Pug Dog Club in 1883 that a
fixed standard of points was drawn up for the guidance of judges when
awarding the prizes to Pugs. Later on the London and Provincial Pug
Club was formed, and standards of points were drawn up by that
society. These, however, have never been adhered to. The weight of a
dog or bitch, according to the standard, should be from 13 lb. to 17
lb., but there are very few dogs indeed that are winning prizes who
can draw the scale at the maximum weight. One of the most distinctive
features of a fawn Pug is the trace, which is a line of black running
along the top of the back from the occiput to the tail. It is the
exception to find a fawn Pug with any trace at all now. The muzzle
should be short, blunt, but not upfaced. Most of the winning Pugs of
the present day are undershot at least half an inch, and consequently
must be upfaced. Only one champion of the present day possesses a
level mouth. The toe-nails should be black according to the standard,
but this point is ignored altogether. In fact, the standard, as drawn
up by the Club, should be completely revised, for it is no true guide.
The colour, which should be either silver or apricot fawn; the
markings on the head, which should show a thumb-mark or diamond on the
forehead, together with the orthodox size, are not now taken into
consideration, and the prizes are given to over-sized dogs with big
skulls that are patchy in colour, and the charming little Pugs which
were once so highly prized are now the exception rather than the rule,
while the large, lustrous eyes, so sympathetic in their expression,
are seldom seen.

The black Pug is a recent production. He was brought into notice in
1886, when Lady Brassey exhibited some at the Maidstone Show. By whom
he was manufactured is not a matter of much importance, as with the
fawn Pug in existence there was not much difficulty in crossing it
with the shortest-faced black dog of small size that could be found,
and then back again to the fawn, and the thing was done. Fawn and
black Pugs are continually being bred together, and, as a rule, if
judgment is used in the selection of suitable crosses, the puppies are
sound in colour, whether fawn or black. In every respect except
markings the black Pug should be built on the same lines as the fawn,
and be a cobby little dog with short back and well-developed
hind-quarters, wide in skull, with square and blunt muzzle and
tightly-curled tail.





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Previous: The Pekinese And The Japanese



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