A Maltese is a small breed of white-colored dog that does not shed and is a dog agility champion.
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 the 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 coat is straight and silky and lacks an undercoat. The color is pure white, and although cream or light lemon ears are 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 finger width dome. Also, a black nose that is two-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. The noses can fade and become pink or light brown. Such a nose is called a “winter nose” and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun.
Maltese dog temperament
Maltese can be very energetic and are known for their occasional wild outbursts of physical activity, bolting around at top speed with incredible 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 behaviors 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 tiny size, Maltese seem to be without fear. Many Maltese seem relatively indifferent to creatures/objects more massive 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 the right choice for families with small children because they can be easily injured. Maltese dogs are commonly bred with other breeds of dogs to express their temperament and intelligence further.
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Maltese have hair, not fur, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives, Poodles and Bichon Frisé, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic. Many people who are allergic to dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese. 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 half-Poodle, 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.
The ‘Maltese’ is generally a healthy breed with few inherent problems. Some problems seen are luxating patella, white dog shaker syndrome, portosystemic liver shunt, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). 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 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 be known as the Maltese. The breed’s history can be traced back to many centuries. Some have placed its origin at two or three thousand years ago, and Darwin himself placed the source 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.2 Maltese are generally associated with the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The dogs probably made their way to Europe through the Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes.
A royal pet
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 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. At the time of the Apostle 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 Catullo’s sparrow.” Issa is purer than a dove’s kiss. Issa is gentler than a maiden. Issa is more precious than Indian gems. ”
It is said that the picture of the dog is so life-like, one cannot 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 can surely only be a Maltese. “The tiniest dog Nature has ever produced, Her coat of long hair, whiter than ermine, whiter ermine ، Her movements exquisitely graceful and Matchless elegance of appearance.” “