The Maltese is a beautiful small breed belonging to the toy group of dogs. This breed is pretty distinctive because of its silky, stark white hair coat.
It’s easy to think the Maltese is a delicate couch potato. But behind the luxurious white coat and small frame is an energetic dog with abilities to compete in dog sports.
Learn more about the Maltese in this post, and find out if this fascinating creature is the right breed for you.
Maltese Dogs and Puppies
What is a Maltese?
The Maltese is an old dog breed known in the past as ‘the ancient dog of Malta,’ ‘Maltese lion dog,’ ‘Roman ladies’ dog’, among others. Throughout its history, the Maltese is known to be a companion dog, and was a favorite among the wealthy.
This breed is quite popular nowadays among city dwellers living in apartment and condos. Its tiny stature, and the minimal shedding of its coat make it perfect for small living spaces.
Where do Maltese dogs come from?
The breed is named ‘Maltese,’ but it’s uncertain if it really comes from Malta.
It’s believed they come from the Mediterranean area–perhaps Malta or Italy. Others speculated the breed comes from Asia, like the other popular toy dog breeds.
However, one thing seems quite clear: the breed has existed for a very long time already. Ancient artifacts from Rome, Greece, and Egypt depicted the existence of these small white dogs even before the Common Era.
The breed was favored among the nobles and the royals in Europe for many centuries. It was considered a status symbol, and was treated very well. But they were almost gone in the 17th and 18th centuries when dog enthusiasts crossed them with other breeds.
Breeders, then, wanted to develop the Maltese further by making it smaller like a squirrel.
Maltese dogs were introduced in the U.S. around the 1800s. These dogs mainly descended from those developed in Britain.
What do Maltese dogs look like?
Maltese are small dogs with a distinctive, stark white, silky coat. They weigh around 4 to 7 pounds, and stand between 8 to 10 inches at the withers.
They have these physical traits:
- Single coat (no undercoat)
- Coat color is purely white, but there may be light lemon or tan markings on the ears
- Feathered drop ears
- Dark round eyes surrounded by black rims
- Black nose
- Feathered tail carried over the back
- Feathered legs and feet (with black pads)
What is the temperament of a Maltese?
This breed is known to be sweet, cheerful, and lively. They get on well with almost everyone, including other pets and animals. But they sometimes ‘act big,’ and might take on larger dogs, a common trait exhibited by toy dogs.
They’re mostly easygoing and docile without causing a lot of problems. But there are just a few things owners need to remember:
- Overindulging them can make them overdependent.
- It’s natural to be protective of them because they’re so small. But they also need to be exposed to different surroundings and situations.
- They live well indoors, but it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy being outdoors.
- They love to play. But too much rough play with very young children can potentially injure them. They do well in homes with older children.
- These dogs might suffer from separation anxiety.