The Maltese is a small, hardy dog with silky hair. The body is compact, fine-boned, but sturdy and slightly longer than it is tall with a level top line. The chest is deep. The skull is slightly rounded on the top with a moderate stop. The medium length muzzle tapers, but not to a point. The pendant, low-set ears are set close to the head and heavily feathered. The black eyes are large, round and set moderately apart with dark rims. The nose is black with open nostrils. The dog has a silky, single layer coat that is white or light ivory. When kept long and groomed like a show dog, it hangs flat, long over the sides of the body almost to the ground (about 8½ inches(22cm.)) hanging on each side of a center part line and is not wavy, curly or kinky. A lot of owners choose to cut the coat into a short, easy care puppy cut.
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 classicalcompanion dog; graceful and lovable. They do well with other non-canine animals and other dogs. Maltese love to play outdoors. Some like to jump in puddles. May be difficult to housebreak. If you feed them table scraps, they can become picky eaters. 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.
Height: Dogs 8-10 inches (21-25cm.) Bitches 8-9 inches (20-23cm.)
Weight: from 6½-9 pounds (3-4kg.)
Prone to sunburn along the hair parting; skin, eye issues, respiratory, 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. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.
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.
The Maltese life span is 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.
The Maltese was developed in Italy. It is said to have miniature spaniel and poodle blood. The Maltese was first recognized as a breed in Malta, where they received their name. They were once known as “Ye ancient dogge of Malta,”. The breed was owned by royalty all over the world. Women carried them around in their sleeves and slept with them in their beds. They were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The Maltese was first recognized by the AKC in 1888.