Maltese with a well-groomed coat
|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 9 Section 1 #65
||Group 1 (Toys)
||Group 5 - Toys
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
A Maltese is a small
white dog that does
The Maltese is a dog belonging to the toy group that is covered from head to
foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. Adult Maltese range from roughly
3 to 10 lb (1.4 to 4.5 kg), though
breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 4 and 8 lb (1.8 to 3.7
kg). There are variations depending on which standard is being used; many, like
American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally between 4 and 6 lb
(1.8 to 2.7 kg), and no more than 7 lb (3.2 kg). The
straight and silky and lacks an
The color is pure white and although cream or light lemon ears is permissible it
is not desirable. Some individuals may have curly or woolly hair, but this is
outside the standard. Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls,with a one
(1) finger width dome. Also, a black nose that is two(2)finger width long.The
drop ears with long hair and very dark eyes, surrounded by darker skin
pigmentation that is called a "halo", giving Maltese their expressive look. The
body is compact with the length equaling the height. Their noses can fade and
become pink or light brown in color. This is often referred to as a
"winter nose" and many times will become black again with increased exposure
to the sun.
half-Maltese is a popular hybrid of the Maltese breed. This
hybrid, commonly known as the
Maltipoo, is bred for its good nature and companionship.
Maltese can be very energetic and are known for their occasional wild
outbursts of physical activity, bolting around at top speed with amazing
agility; given this, they still do well for apartment dwellers. They are
relatively easy to train and enjoy a playful game of fetch. These intelligent
dogs learn quickly, and pick up new tricks and behaviours easily. Since they
were bred specifically for
companionship, they do not do well being left alone for long hours.
The breed has a reputation for being good-natured, but may be intolerant of
small children or other dogs. They can be protective of their owner and will
bark or may bite if animals or people infringe on their territory or are
perceived as a threat.
For all their diminutive size, Maltese seem to be without fear. In fact, many
Maltese seem relatively indifferent to creatures/objects larger than themselves
(unless of course it is the owner). They are among the gentlest mannered of all
little dogs, yet they are lively and playful as well as vigorous. Because of
their size, Maltese dogs are not a good choice for families with small children
because they can be easily injured.
The Maltese is commonly bred with other breeds of dog to further express its
tempermant and intelligence.
Maltese have hair, not fur and have little to no shedding if cared for
properly. Like their relatives
Frisť, they are considered to be largely
hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to
Dogs may not be
allergic to the Maltese (See list of
Hypoallergenic dog breeds). Regular grooming is required to prevent
their coats from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a
"puppy cut," a 1 - 2" all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some
owners who prefer long hair will roll it in curlers to keep it from matting.
Dark staining in the hair around the eyes ("tear staining") can be a problem in
this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog's eyes water
and the size of the tear ducts. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the
staining can be minimized.
The Maltese is generally a healthy breed with few inherent problems. Some
problems seen are
luxating patella, White Shaker Dog Syndrome, portosystemic
liver shunt and
progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Average life span is 12-15 years.
As an aristocrat of the canine world, this ancient breed has been known by a
variety of names throughout the centuries. Originally called the Melitaie
Dog, he has also been known as
"Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta", the Roman Ladies' Dog, the
Comforter Dog, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, the Shock
Dog, the Maltese Lion Dog and the Maltese Terrier. Sometime
within the past century, he has come to simply be known as the Maltese.
The breed's history can be traced back many centuries. Some have placed its
origin at two or three thousand years ago and
Darwin himself placed the origin of the breed at 6000 BC.1
The Maltese is thought to have been descended from a
Spitz type dog
found among the Swiss Lake dwellers and bred down to obtain its small size.
Although there is also some evidence that the breed originated in
Asia and is related
Tibetan Terrier, the exact origin is unknown.2 Maltese are
generally associated with the Isle of
Malta in the
Mediterranean Sea. The dogs probably made their way to
Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes. The Isle of Malta (or
Melitae as it was then known) was a geographic center of early trade, and
explorers undoubtedbly found ancesters of the tiny, white dogs left there as
barter for necessities and supplies. The dogs were favored by the wealthy and
royalty alike and were bred over time to specifically be a companion animal.
Some royals that purportedly owned Maltese were
Mary Queen of Scots,
Queen Elizabeth I,
Josephine Bonaparte and
At the time of the
Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese named Issa of
which he was very fond. In this connection the poet
Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in
A.D. 38 at Bilbilis in
Spain, made this
attachment famous in one of his celebrated epigrams:
- "Issa is more frolicsome than Catulla's sparrow.
- Issa is purer than a dove's kiss.
- Issa is gentler than a maiden.
- Issa is more precious than Indian gems...
- Lest the last days that she sees light
- should snatch her from him forever,
- Publius has had her picture painted."
It is said that the picture of the dog is so life-like, one cannot tell the
dog from the picture.
Ludovico Ariosto in a few lines of his literary masterpiece,
Orlando Furioso, describes a dog that can surely only be a Maltese.
- "The tiniest dog Nature has ever produced --
- Her coat of long hair, whiter than ermine,
- Her movements exquisitely graceful and
- Matchless elegance of appearance."
- (Vol.II Canto 43) 3
- 1 Cutillo, Nicholas. The Complete Maltese. Howell Book
- 2 Leitch, Virginia T., 1953; Carno, Dennis, 1970. The
Maltese Dog - A History of the Breed, 2nd Ed.. International Institute
of Veterinary Science.
- 3 Iveria, Miki, Maltese Dogs - The Jewels of Women.
The Maltese Club of Great Britain, J. Riches & Co., Ltd., 1979.
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