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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