This section is from the book "Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors", by Neville Lytton. Also available from Amazon: Toy Dogs And Their Ancestors: Including The History And Management Of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, And Pomeranians.
The essentially masculine view was recently expressed by an old fancier in one of the newspapers. Asked to state what was the best Toy Spaniel he ever remembered, he quoted one long since dead, which he said was large and with a bigger head than the present-day Toy Spaniels and which was emphatically " a dog and not a pet!" In speaking of an essentially pet breed, this is rather a surprising view, and if the head of the dog in question was larger than those of some of our modern dogs I can only say that I hope I may never see one like it! He also says that he welcomes the progress of the present-day dog to the bigger type of old as sounder and stronger. I have shown that the Toy Spaniel type of old was infinitely smaller than ours, and that the heads were very small, and I would point out that size does not always secure soundness, as some of our biggest specimens are quite unsound.
I notice that many of the people who talk most about soundness do not carry out their theories in the judging ring, and as long as they put up unsound dogs it is of no use for them to preach soundness.
I do not consider the present type of Toy Spaniels at all satisfactory. It lacks quality, especially as regards the Black-and-tans and Rubies. Short necks, protruding tongues, roach backs, flat sides, straight shoulders, bulldog forelegs and weak hindlegs, with cow hocks are to be seen everywhere. The King Charles and Rubies are now no longer Toys in any sense of the word, and I for one should be sorry to be obliged to carry one of the average sized show specimens for an hour or two under my arm. It is not, however, so much the size to which I object as the want of symmetry and compactness, the heavy bone, and the sluggish, shuffling gait. I am by no means in favor of excessive smallness when it leads to weediness, unsoundness of constitution, and general lack of smartness. It is also an almost invariable rule (subject to exceptions, of course) that dogs and bitches under six pounds in weight are useless for breeding, and I think the ideal size is that where the dog, though in every sense a Toy, is still strong and vigorous and capable of reproducing its species.
On the other hand, there are at present far too many great, heavy, coarse, bull-necked dogs with Bulldog expressions and thick, weak legs.
I am of the opinion that a Toy Spaniel should not be nearly so much undershot as is now considered right. Exaggeration of all kinds is most undesirable. Heads are now often deformed. I will not mention other people's dogs, but, to illustrate what I mean, I refer to the photograph of my own dogs, St Anthony's Marvel and his puppy.
There is, of course, a vast difference between a modern noseless King Charles dog with a good expression and one with a bad expression, and, if we are obliged to breed exaggerations under penalty of retiring from the shows, we must try to get the modern type as perfect as it is capable of being. As matters now stand, I should certainly exhibit a dog with a sunken nose if I bred it; at the same time I would willingly lose the result of my labours and give up winning with such a dog if the fanciers were to decide that they would consistently penalise too ugly a face just as they now penalise too long a nose, and if the day were to come, as I hope it will, when all deformities would be out of the money, I should take my card of Very Highly Condemned with the genuine pleasure of a successful reformer.
I hope no one will imagine, however, that I am advocating more nose at the cost of quality. Some people seem to consider a nose as synonymous with the type which Miss Todd calls the "Bottle Nosed Whale," i. e., a broad, spatulate, undershot muzzle at the end of a long nose. Nothing could possibly be worse than this. People have proudly shown me "Marlboroughs " with faces fit to make a horse shy, expecting that, as I disapprove of the noseless deformities, I should hail these long-nosed ones with sackbut and psaltery. No. Bad as the noseless deformity undoubtedly is when it violates its own rules of proportion, may heaven save us from what is now called the Marlborough!
My remark on distortions will, I am afraid, inevitably be made use of by those who own bad dogs to uphold the type they breed because it is not distorted in the particular way I point out, but I must in advance take the precaution of absolutely disowning these people and their dogs. There are coarse long-nosed dogs, as well as coarse noseless ones. I will have none of either of them. There are multitudes of wrong types, but only two right ones. There are slight variations of type in length of nose, with corresponding variations of skull, but, so long as the main essence is the same, the type is right. There must also be the look of race and quality.
What is quality? I have often been met with this question, asked in the aggrieved tone of one who has vainly pursued a will-of-the-wisp and feels rather exhausted and irritable in consequence.
Quality is the most difficult thing in the world to explain to those who do not instinctively recognise it. It is an intangible something which does not depend entirely upon line, but upon a combination of lines, thickness, thinness, width, breadth, depth, curve, etc., and their relation to one another; the result producing to the eye, without any conscious mental effort, a certain perfection and exquisiteness without which mere dull correctness is lifeless and uninteresting. It is the difference between coarse linen and fine cambric, or, let us say, between good and bad cooking, where the ingreclients may all be the same, yet the result right in one case and wrong in the other. Dogs may be made of the same component points, and yet they may be indefinably wrong. Just as you make out recipes for a bad cook in vain, you may compile standards till you are tired. Nothing will avail you unless your judge can recognise quality.
In a brood bitch you require a rather heavier version of type than in a dog, as the slightly stronger and heavier ones are more suitable for the dangerous work of reproducing their species, but in a dog, quality is all important.