The Maltese is a hardy little companion dog with a luxurious silky white coat hanging straight to the ground on each side of a center part line. The coat is single, with no undercoat, and should not be wavy, curly or kinky. It should be made of shiny, thick, heavy hair which is about 8½ inches (22cm.) long. The color is pure white, although light ivory is acceptable. The long pendant ears and tail are thickly covered with hair and the tail drapes over the back. The eyes are dark, round, large and deep with dark rims. The muzzle tapers slightly and should be one-third the length of the total head. It should have a black nose with open nostrils and a distinct stop. The body is slightly longer than tall with a level topline. The Maltese is fine-boned, but sturdy. A properly built Maltese seems to float along the ground under his cloud of white hair.
The Maltese is spirited, lively and playful. Gentle, loving, trusting and devoted to its master. Highly intelligent. Good at learning tricks. Bold and quick to sound the alarm in case of suspicious noises. It is a classical companion dog; graceful and lovable. They do well with other animals. Maltese love to play outdoors but have a penchant for jumping in puddles. A bath must follow! May be difficult to housebreak. If you feed them table scraps, they can become picky eaters. Include small biscuits and dry dog food in this breed's regular diet to help the teeth stay strong and healthy. Do not allow these dogs to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors, where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavior problems. If the dog believes he is boss, he can be snappish with children and even adults. Do not over-pamper or overprotect these little dogs, for they will become unstable, and some may become jealous of visitors. Maltese who are allowed to take over the house, being boss of the humans can also develop separation anxiety, guarding, and obsessive barking. These are not Maltese traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way the dog is treated by the people around them. These behaviors will go away when the dog is surrounded by stable pack leaders.
Maltese Height, Weight
Height: Dogs 8-10 inches (21-25cm.) Bitches 8-9 inches (20-23cm.)
Weight: from 6½-9 pounds (3-4kg.)
Maltese Health Problems
Prone to sunburn along the hair parting; skin, respiratory, eye and tooth problems, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. It is a good idea to paper-train this breed - to avoid going out in weather extremes.
Maltese Living Conditions
The Maltese is a good dog for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Maltese need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs who do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe open area off lead, such as a large fenced in yard. They remain playful well into old age. They are very active indoors.
Maltese Life Expectancy
About 15 or more years. It may live as long as 18, but it is important to keep it out of the damp.
Daily combing and brushing of the long coat is important but be gentle, as the coat is very soft. Clean the eyes daily to prevent staining, and clean the beard after meals for the same reason. Bathe or dry shampoo regularly - making sure the animal is thoroughly dry and warm afterward. Clean the ears, and pull out hair growing inside the ear canal. The eyes should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. The hair on the top of the head is often tied up in a topknot to keep it away from the eyes. Some pet owners opt to clip the hair short for easier and less time consuming grooming. The Maltese sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy sufferers.
This ancient dog was described by the Greek philosopher Theophrastus as belonging to the "Melita" breed, an archaic name for Malta. It was developed in Italy with the addition of miniature spaniel and poodle blood. It was thought that these lively little dogs were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The breed became particularly popular with women, who often carried them in their sleeves and even to their beds. The dog was not only popular with women though. Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, prized his Maltese enough to commission a portrait of "Issa" and even have poetry written about her. Today, the glamorous Maltese is an adored pet and sought-after show dog.
Gun Dog, AKC Toy