Open main menu

Pug-dogs. The chin, or Japanese pug, is a delicate, timid little creature generally black and white, weighing no more than a small cat, and having goggle eyes that stick out like glass marbles. If, at birth, the nose is not considered sufficiently snub, it is pressed in with the finger. Doubtless this process, by stopping up some passage, induces the habit of constant sneezing with which many of these animals are afflicted:—"She looks like a pug sneezing," is a common phrase to denote one particular kind of ugly face. Owing to their extreme delicacy, the greatest care is needed in their management. Formerly, in Daimyōs mansions, the pet pugs were under the care of special women, and were never allowed to set foot out-of-doors. Nevertheless, one—so the true story goes—could not be kept from following its lord's procession, and was therefore taken up into his august palanquin and brought to the capital, which example of fidelity coming to the Sovereign's ears, the little creature was granted official rank. A very light diet is essential:—rice with a trifle of grated dried bonito just to give it a flavour, but no other fish or meat. Eggs, too, are good, and bread and milk or biscuits, but not too much of anything. Contrary to the practice mentioned above, the dealers recommend a modicum of exercise. With care, a chin may live to the age of fourteen or fifteen.

The origin of the chin is obscure, though the probability is in favour of its descent from the Chinese pug, perhaps via Luchu, seeing that the breed can be traced southwards to Satsuma. Such differences as now exist would have arisen from crossing with other small dogs to which breeders frequently resort, because the race is too delicate to propagate itself for many generations unless reinforced from some sturdier stock. Purchasers are therefore apt to be confronted with a dilemma:—either the animal offered to them is pure bred, but sickly; or it is healthy, but not a good specimen. Beware of "legginess." Perfect specimens are undoubtedly very captivating, and one or two of them form charming ornaments to a lady's boudoir. They can be taught tricks, a favourite one being o mawari, that is, turning round and round. The price (1904) varies from about 60 to 80 yen.

The Japanese do not look on pugs as dogs. They speak of "dogs and pugs" (inu ya chin), as if the latter formed a distinct species.