Description: The Maltese dogs are not only the dogs of the aristocrats, but The Aristocrat Dogs. They are the pride of every show with their royal, graceful demeanor.
The breed originated either in Malta, or in the Sicilian town of Melita and its existence has beed documented 3000 years ago. Small in size, with a long, silky, straight coat (20-25 cm) hanging straight to the ground, proud and good natured, it became very popular at Queen’s Elisabeth’s Court in the 16th century. The white coat makes a constrast with the big, black eyes, which give expressiveness to the dog.
Weight: under 7 lb (3 kg). Ideal: 4-6 lb (2-3 kg)
Height: up to 10 in (25 cm) at the shoulder.
Temperament: When the maltese dog was first presented in a show, in 1877, in USA, it was presented as “The Maltese Lion Dog”. And why was that ? Because of its boldness and fearlessness. Proud, aristocratic, it loves attention. The Maltese is a bundle of energy, very playfull and loves to be cuddled.
They behave well with other pets, but tend to become jealous and snap at ill-behaved children. They are that one-person dog, and will bond especially with one member of the family, missing that person and being overprotective with him/her.
They are very social and they are happy being the center of attention, this is why they do well in the show ring.
Health: Generally, the maltese dogs are very healthy, although they might be subject to genetic eye disorders and prone to get sunburns along the hair parting. They cannot stand heat too well, and tend to jump in waterholes when outside.
Also, the maltese might experience difficult digestion and upset stomach, as it tends to pick and eat all sort of things. For keeping the teeth in good condition, include dry food and biscuits in its diet.
Maintenance/Grooming: As anyone can see, the Maltese dog has high demands, needing: daily brushing and combing, to prevent matting, weekly shampooing, and regular eye care (to prevent staining), ear care (trimming the stray hairs) and teeth care in order to prevent tooth loss.
The coat is very soft, so that its handling should be as gentle as possible. The long head-hair may be tied up in a topknot or it may be left hanging. Anyhow, the best part is that they do not shed, making the breed suited for allergic owners as well.
Training: The Maltese is an active and intelligent dog, and training is easy to be done. But, with a royal appearance like that, the training should never be harsh. The dog is willing to catch your attention, to play and please its master, so that it will learn a lot of tricks if it feels enough rewarded.
One particular thing: you should potty-train your dog to use a paper, to avoid getting out when the wather is too hot or too wet. Other thing is to properly socialize it, avoid over-pampering as the maltese dogs tend to consider their owner as their personal asset and to become over-jealous with any intruder.
They are very good as watch dogs, for people living alone in apartments, but they do not make good guard dogs.
Varieties: The only colour accepted for the breed is white, eventually with a light tan, ivory or lemon on the ears.
Famous dogs: The best known Maltese dog seems to be the one owned by the Roman governor of Malta, Publius, named Issa. The Roman poet Martial celebrated Issa in one of its epigrams, and the dog had also a painting ordered.
As well, some of the England royal heads owned maltese dogs, especially for their small and loyal nature: Mary Stuart, Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte.
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