Poor Charlie is out of a job and his prospects are dim. He tries to filch some food from a lunch cart and is almost caught by a policeman. He has to do some fancy rolling back and forth underneath a fence to avoid the clutches of the law. Later on, Charlie saves a roving dog named Scraps from some other dogs, and the two become friends as well as partners in purloining food.
When Charlie goes into a cabaret where Scraps would not be allowed, he hides the dog in his baggy trousers. Scraps' tail emerges from a hole in the back of Charlie's trousers and this makes the man a sight to see. Charlie meets a girl who works in the cabaret and tries to cheer her up when he discovers that she is disillusioned with life.
When Charlie's lack of money causes him to be thrown out of the cabaret, he returns to his open-air sleeping spot, unaware that crooks have buried a wallet there. Scraps digs it up, covering Charlie's face with dirt in the process. Charlie finds money in the wallet and takes it to the cabaret to show the girl that there is enough for them to get married on. The crooks who buried the wallet spot Charlie and take back the stolen booty with some violence. Charlie battles to get it back. This leads to a chase which ends with the arrest of the crooks. Charlie and the girl marry and use the money to buy a farm. There they are seen looking fondly into a cradle which contains Scraps and her puppies.
Working under a million-dollar contract, this was Chaplin's first film for First National, a company which later merged with Warner Brothers. Most of Chaplin's Mutual Company actors continued in his new films, but some new additions were made to the troupe, including his brother, Sydney.