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"To err is human, to forgive, canine."

Author Unknown



A Maltese is a small breed of white dog belonging to the toy group. The Maltese does not shed and is covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white fur. Their fur is compared to carpet. An ancient breed long associated with the island of Malta, it has retained its distinct appearance for millennia. They are very lovable and often get along well with other dogs.

Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a one-finger-wide dome and a black nose that is two finger widths long. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with long hair and very dark eyes, surrounded by darker skin pigmentation that is called a "halo", gives Maltese their expressive look. 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.

Coat and color
The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. The color is pure white and although cream or light lemon ears are permissible, they are not desirable. Some individuals may have curly or woolly hair, but this is outside the standard. The Maltese while growing may get curly fur. They are very cute.

Adult Maltese range from roughly 3 to 7 lb (1.4 to 3.0 kg), though breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 4 and 7 lb (1.8 to 3. kg). There are variations depending on which standard is being used; many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally less than 7 lb with between 4 and 6 lb preferred.

For all their diminutive size, Maltese seem to be without fear. In fact, many Maltese seem relatively indifferent to creatures/objects larger than themselves, which makes them very easy to socialize with other dogs, and even cats. They are always happy, cheerful, smart and do not like to get into trouble. They tend to get very lonely if the master is not with them and taken care of and it doesn't like being left out. This is because they were bred to be companion dogs and thrive on love and attention. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, his/her energy level and playful demeanor remain fairly constant and does not diminish much.

Maltese are very good with children and infants. Maltese do not require much physical exercise, although they should be walked daily to reduce problem behavior. They enjoy running and are more inclined to play games of chase, rather than play with toys. Maltese can be snappy with littler children and should always be supervised when playing, although socializing them at a young age will reduce this habit. The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason the breed also does well with apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers. They are incredibly friendly dogs to people they know.

Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives Poodles and Bichon Frisé, 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).they make very good friends with different breeds esspecially the lhasa apso. Daily cleaning is required to prevent the risk of tear-staining.

Regular grooming is also required, to prevent the coats of non-shedding dogs 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, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long fur to keep it from matting and breaking off, and then to show the dog with the hair unwrapped combed out to its full length.

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. Tear stain can be readily removed if a fine-toothed metal comb, moistened with lukewarm water, is carefully drawn through the snout hair just below the eyes. This maintenance activity must be performed every two or three days, as a layer of sticky goo is quick to redevelop. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the staining can be minimized. Many veterinarians recommend avoiding foods treated with food coloring and serving distilled water to reduce tear staining. Also, giving the dog bottled water may help too.

Many toy breeds and small dogs are known to yap or scream or bite ankles. While Maltese dogs are not given to excessive barking, they will generally sound the alarm at noises in the night. In fact, legend has it that the ancient Romans would use the Maltese as alarm dogs, and raised them with Rottweilers, or a proto-Rottweiler breed. Intruders would first be confronted with the diminutive Maltese, only to be later confronted with their more formidable companions.

The Maltese is generally a healthy breed with few inherent problems. The most significant issue for Maltese is their dental health. Maltese have notoriously bad teeth and it is not uncommon for animals to begin losing teeth at the age of 8 or 9.

There is also an inclination toward heart ailments, which usually surface around the 10th year. These might include a prolapse valve syndrome, or an enlarged ventricle. These conditions can be life threatening, but are manageable through medication.

Other problems may be a luxating patella, or "floating kneecap", portosystemic liver shunt, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).


Other names: Bichon Maltaise
Country of origin: Malta

Maltese are also prone to sunburn along where their hair parts, and, in general, have rather delicate skin.

Some dogs of this kind get the chills very easily, and are prone to shaking or shivering for no apparent medical reason. Maltese are also often uncomfortable in hot, as well as damp, weather.

The 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 "Majestic Creature", 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 placed the origin of the breed at 6000 BC.

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 to the Tibetan Terrier, the exact origin is unknown. Maltese are generally associated with the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The dogs probably made their way to Europe through the Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes. Some writers believe these proto-Maltese were used for rodent contro before the appearance of the breed gained paramount importance. The Isle of Malta (or Melitae as it was then known) was a geographic center of early trade, and explorers undoubtedly found ancestors 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, Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette. In fact, the Maltese were so favored by the Roman emperors, they choose to breed them to be pure white - something they considered a 'sacred color'. Before then, there were other light colors that Maltese come in - still seen again at the puppy stage, normally.

During the first century, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese named Issa (Issa translates as "Now" in the Maltese language) of which he was very fond. The poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in 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 painting of the dog was so life-like that one could not tell the dog from the picture.

During the Renaissance, the poet Ludovico Ariosto in a few lines of his literary masterpiece, "Orlando Furioso," describes a dog, that could possibly 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)

Conformation champions
During the 1940s Dr. Vincenzo Calvaresi was one of the prominent members of the Maltese fancy in the U.S. and his Villa Malta breeding program produced more than 100 champions.

Toni and Aennchen Antonelli of Aennchen's Maltese were the main force in establishing the Maltese breed in the United States in the 1950s. One of the best known Maltese from their breeding program was the female Ch. Aennchen's Poona Dancer, winner of 37 "Best In Show"s and owned by Larry Ward and the late Frank Oberstar.

Cross-bred Maltese dogs
In the popular 1974 film Benji, the part of the dog Benji's heroic love interest, Tiffany, was played by a mixed breed female of primarily Maltese ancestry. She also appeared, with her mixed-breed puppies, in the film's 1977 sequel, For the Love of Benji.

Maltese are often deliberately crossed with Shih Tzus and Poodles to produce small, fluffy lap dogs. Maltese-Poodle crosses are called Maltepoos. Maltese crossed with Pugs are also seeing an increase in popularity. Maltese with Shih Tzus are called Mal-Shihs or Mitzu's. Maltese are also deliberately bred with Cocker Spaniels, to produce the designer breed called "Silky Cockers." This results in a dog which is a small, friendly and intelligent animal with a unique low (or no) shedding coat.

In the 1950s the Maltese and Lhasa Apso were accidentally bred, creating a type of dog that later became known as the Kyi-Leo rare dog breed in the 1970s.