Maltese

Type: Companion Dog

Height: 5 - 10 inches.

Weight: 4 - 7 lbs., though 7 lbs. is disqualifying.

Life Span: 14 - 15 years.

Litter Size: 2 - 4 puppies.

Country of Origin: Malta

Activity: Indoors - Very High. Outdoors - Medium. Puppies sometimes like to zoom around the house in

Watch-dog: Very High. The Maltese is a very alert dog and will bark at anything unusual.

Guard-dog: Very Low. They are generally friendly, and although fearless, much too small to defend.


Description: The Maltese is a member of the Bichon family and is one of the oldest European breeds. They are directly related to the Bichon and Bolognese. All came from the same initial breed, simply developing on different islands created their different traits, as well as their difference names. The Maltese came from Malta, the Bolognese came from Bologna, and the Bichon Tenerife came from Tenerife. Maltese have a beautiful mantel of long, silky, white hair. This is their crowning glory. They may sometimes have a hint of lemon or tan on their ears, although this is undesirable in the show ring. They are short, petite sized dogs and have short triangular drop ears. Maltese are gentle-mannered and affectionate, yet playful and full of animation. Despite their size, they posses the vigor needed for an excellent companion. They are a healthy and happy breed, and can live for at least 15 years! The Maltese is intelligent and easy to train, but is very strong-willed. They enjoy being groomed, petted and fondled. Maltese

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Colors: Pure white. slight lemon or tan markings on ears are permissible, but undesirable.

Coat: Maltese have no under coat. They have a long, straight, flat coat that is silky in texture.

Temperament: Maltese are friendly and alert. They are very lively as puppies, running around the house in sudden bursts of happiness. They are agile, entertaining and happy dogs. Maltese are generally good with older children, and are fairly adaptable. They are comforters, fastidious and loyal. They are wary of strangers, but friendly. They are trusting and fearless as well. They can be prone to anxiety if left alone for long periods of time, but are otherwise playful and fun.

With Children: It may not tolerate younger children, but they get along great with older children.

With Pets: No, does not mix well with other pets.

Care and Training: Extensive coat care is needed for the Maltese. Shampoo once a week and daily brushing is essential to keep the coat from matting. Special attention is needed to keep the eyes clean as staining is possible. Indoor activity will suffice for exercise, but Maltese will enjoy a walk or a run in the park. They should be trained from puppyhood not to bark unwarranted or bite, as teething causes most puppies to want to bite everything. But all training should be done with a positive, firm attitude.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High. Maltese enjoy their owners and whatever they wish to teach them, and they are also very intelligent little dogs.

Special Needs: Attention, grooming and socialization.

Living Environment: An apartment is fine for the Maltese as they are a small, relatively quiet dog if trained. The Maltese makes a good dog for the elderly if they can socialize and take time to groom and play with them. They are very adaptable. The best owner for this breed would be a family or individual with enough time to care for the Maltese, living in a suburban, rural or city environment.

Health Issues: Maltese are generally healthy. They are, however, subject to genetic eye disorders. Other health issues include collapsing tracheas, liver shunts, hypoglycemia, skin allergies, and white shaker dog syndrome (disease that causes the dog to have full body tremors, most common in West Highland White Terriers, Maltese, Bolognese and Poodles).

History: The Maltese origins come from the island of Malta dating back to about 1500 B.C. They are thought to have been brought to the island by Phoenician traders, and may have had their origins elsewhere. A record of a Greek historian named Strabo reported in 25 A.D. that "There is a town in Sicily called Melita whence are exported many beautiful dogs called Canis Melitei." This may point to an origin in Italy. These small dogs were very popular from their beginnings. A Roman governor of Malta was reported to like his Maltese so much that he had poems written about it and a painting portrait made of his little female dog. In the 1500s, one writer recorded a Maltese being sold for $2,000! Their popularity rose during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I as a companion to the women of the royal court. At this time, Dr. Johannes Caius wrote about the breed, "They are called Meliti, of the island of Malta...they are very small indeed and chiefly sought after for the pleasure and amusement of women who carried them in their arms, their bosoms, and their beds..." The Maltese is featured in many famous paintings. Artists who depicted this little dog are, notably, Francisco de Goya, Rubens, and Sir Edwin Landseer. They were first shown in a dog show in England in 1864, and then shown in the United States in 1877 under the name of "Maltese Lion Dog". Since their arrival to the U.S., they have grown in popularity.

First Registered by the AKC: 1888

AKC Group: Toy

Class: Toy

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 9), KC (GB), UKC