History, Characteristics, Personality and More
Literally covered in a mantle of pure-white fluffy hair as soft as silk, Maltese puppies are hard-to-resist bundles of joy blessed with a lively and spirited personality.
Also known in the past as the Ancient Dog of Malta, the Maltese Lion Dog, the Melita Dog and the Roman Ladies Dog, this breed has a history of being cherished by aristocrats all over the world.
But you do not need to have royal blood run through your veins to own this pampered breed; almost anybody can open their heart and home to this lovely breed.
Whether you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed for you or just want to learn more about this breed, you will find the answers to your questions right here!
As the name implies, this ancient breed is believed to have originated from the Italian island of Malta, just off the southern coast of Italy. This ancient trading port was frequently visited by many Phoenician sailors causing, the breed to be exported and distributed throughout Europe and the Orient.
By the fourteenth century, these charming dogs became a favorite among the upper-class ladies who enjoyed carrying them in their sleeves. Among popular Maltese owners of the past are Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette.
The first "Maltese lion dogs" were shown in America in 1877. They were often referred to this way due to the fact that back then some dog fanciers liked to trim this dog's hair in a lion cut. The American Kennel Club recognized this breed in 1888 and categorized it under the toy group.
This breed is often crossed with the Bichon Frise, giving life to the Maltichon, also known as Bichon Maltese. Maltipoos, on the other hand, are a Maltese Poodle mix derived from mating Maltese with Poodles. A Maltese Pomeranian mix produces an exotic looking Maltipom. Another popular cross is a Maltese Shih Tzu mix. Less common is a Chihuahua Maltese mix known as "Malchi".
These crosses are not considered purebred and are not recognized by AKC.
Physical Characteristics of Maltese Puppies and Dogs
Overall, the Maltese breed presents as a small dog with a distinct flowing gait. While this breed may at a first appear to be fine-boned, in reality it is quite sturdy and possesses plenty of vigor.
The body of the Maltese is compact, slightly longer than tall. The chest is deep and the topline is level. The neck is sufficiently long to grant a high, noble carriage of the head. The well-feathered tail is elegantly draped over the back.
The legs present a moderate amount of feathering. The forelegs are straight with the elbows kept close to the body. The hind legs are angulated at the stifle and hocks. The feet are round with black pads. The hair between the toes is often trimmed to give a neater appearance.
The head is rounded at the skull and well proportioned to the rest of the body. Eyes are large, very dark and feature a distinct black rim which adds to the overall alert expression of this breed. The nose is black. The muzzle is of medium length while the teeth meet in an edge-to-edge or scissor bite. Ears are pendulous and low-set boasting distinct feathering.
Overall, the most striking feature of this breed is the lush, silky mantle of candid, white hair literally covering this dog from head to toe. This single-layer coat comes with no undercoat, and when left long, flows almost to the ground. Breed standard calls for a pure, white coat, however, a touch of tan or lemon color in the ear area is allowed.
This breed is categorized by the American Kennel Club under the toy group.
|Male||8 to 10 inches||4 to 7 pounds|
|Female||8 to 9 inches||3 to 6 pounds|
With a history of being lap dogs for the aristocrats, the Maltese dog breed thrives on lots of love and attention. However, make sure not to dole out too much; excessive cuddling and spoiling will do more harm than good, leading to an insecure or even bratty personality.
While Maltese dogs are naturally drawn to people, they may be on the reserved side with strangers.
Maltese dogs usually get along well with other pets, including dogs, but do not underestimate this dog's innocent look! This breed may turn bold and feisty towards larger dogs and may even challenge them. Larger dogs though may see your Maltese as a great serving of dessert; keep your dog safe and always under good leash control!
It is critical for Maltese puppies to be heavily socialized during their critical stages of development. Socialization from puppyhood will help boost this breed's confidence and create the grounds for a stable temperament.
Because this breed can be sensitive, it responds best to gentle, non-forceful training. This breed is quite intelligent and will learn fast once given the opportunity for earning rewards.
A weak point of Maltese puppies though can be house training; this breed, indeed, hates rain and cold and may retreat when sent to do business outdoors. A covered potty area or an indoor dog litter box may be a good investment.
Overall, with the right owner, this breed tends to be sweet, well-mannered and very playful.
Best Owner and Living Conditions
This breed thrives on attention and does poorly when left alone for extended periods of time. Separation anxiety may easily kick in, leading to bouts of nuisance barking and destructive chewing. The best home for this breed is with an owner capable of spending lots of time with it and taking it along when feasible.
Maltese puppies and dogs do best in a home with adult children. Small children may be clumsy and inadvertently injure this fragile breed. Not to mention the fact that these dogs are overall sensitive and may dislike disruptions in their routines derived from living with small children.
Maltese puppies and dogs tend to be very active indoors and most appreciate a fenced yard. Consider though the fact that this breed may tend to sound the alarm for any little noise. This predisposition can become troublesome in a tight-knit community if this issue is not addressed.
Activity and Exercise
Despite this breed's reputation as a "lap dog" they do have a little bit of a "wild" side. Maltese puppies are very playful and watching them romp around as they play with a ball is a very endearing sight.
Make sure you take your Maltese dog outside for daily walks; this will fulfill his primal instinct to walk and will meet his needs for exercise and socialization.
Concerned about this breed's need to be groomed? Some owners take a short cut and trim this breed down in a cute "puppy cut".
While the Maltese sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy sufferers, those who choose to keep the hair long must invest in daily brushing and combing to prevent the formation of mats. This breed's hair is often tied over the head into a neat topknot with cute bows to prevent hairs from falling over the eyes.
The eyes need daily cleaning to keep them from staining. You'll also need to clean the beard after each meal. Bathe or dry shampoo regularly.
This breed is pretty healthy but may be predisposed to a few hereditary and non-hereditary disorders. Look for reputable Maltese breeders who health test their breeding stock.
Some may have a delicate digestive system. Eye problems, orthopedic problems, hypoglycemia and occasionally deafness and white-shaker syndrome are a few additional health concerns with this breed.
Even healthy dogs get sick. While many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, there are many others that you may handle on your own. Learn how to save time and money (and how to prevent small problems from becoming big problems) by diagnosing and treating dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.
The average life expectancy for healthy Maltese puppies is between 13 and 15 years. Some dogs live up to 18 years.
The sight of a Maltese show dog trotting in the ring almost gives the impression of a dog floating over the ground. There is no denying that Maltese puppies and dogs are ultimately eye candy for those looking for a cute lap dog with a lively personality.
Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?
If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Maltese rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.
You may also wish to explore the following articles:
Want to learn more?
Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? If you answered "YES", then check this Maltese Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.
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