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:—

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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.

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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.