Maltese Breed Profile

by Leanne Thompson on April 6, 2009

The Maltese dog breed (pronounced Mall-teez) is a lively, intelligent and playful breed.  It is not as common in the UK as other long haired breeds, such as the shih tzu or the llasa apso, but nonetheless, has grown in popularity since its first introduction to the UK.

It is said that nobody ever ‘owns’ a Maltese, but rather this regal little dog owns the owner.  Its pure white coat, when grown to its fullest, adds to its glamorous appearance but even when cut short this little dog retains its regality.

When purchasing a Maltese, it is not uncommon to see breeder’s advertisements stating ‘tiny’ or ‘toy Maltese’, ‘miniature Maltese’ or other such names that may imply a smaller and cuter Maltese but these should be ignored.  Like any other breed, there are smaller and larger forms of the breed but they are no different to any other Maltese in any way.

Typical Maltese
Height: 8 – 10 inches
Weight: 6.5 – 9 lbs (3-4 kg)
Average Litter Size: Around 3 – 5 puppies
Life Expectancy: 11 – 14 years, has been known to live as long as 18 years
Good with Children: Yes if handled with care (see below)
Kennel Club Classification: Toy Group

Colour of a Maltese:
The colour of a Maltese should be pure white, although slightly lemon or ivory markings are often seen.maltese_puppy

Grooming a Maltese:
The grooming of a Maltese can be quite considerable and if allowed, the coat of a Maltese will grow to the floor with a centre parting.  Daily grooming is essential for this breed if the coat is to be kept long.  Like other long-haired breeds, this is the sort of image people will associate with the breed having seen them depicted on Maltese memorabilia like this.  If you intend to show your Maltese, then it is essential to let the coat grow and to keep them immaculate.

However, many Maltese owners prefer to have their Maltese cut on a regular basis, usually every 6-8 weeks, as this allows for more play and easier maintenance of the breed.  The coat should be silky, soft and straight, rather than woolly.

The long hair growing over the ears means that the hair in the ear canal needs checking regularly and kept dry and clean.

Like other dog breeds, the Maltese has weeping eyes that can stain the face area and look rather unkempt especially because of the pure white fur.  Wipe the eyes regularly with special wipes or eye lotion to avoid this.

Maltese Common Ailments/Health issues:
The Maltese is a hardy breed and if looked after, will give years of healthy and relatively problem-free companionship.

As with some other white fur breeds, it seems the Maltese can be prone to skin problems and may need medicated shampoo to keep this at bay.  If the coat is allowed to grow long, then sun burn is common along the centre parting on the back.

They can experience discomfort in hot weather and should be protected from the heat or chills, and this can result in upset digestion.

As with all puppies, make sure your Maltese is vet checked when you take him or her home.maltese dog

Temperament of the Maltese:
The Maltese is generally a good natured dog with a friendly temperament.  It is important, as with all small breeds, that they do not develop the ‘small dog syndrome’ and become used to excessive barking, guarding or separation anxiety.  This are problems brought on by owners, although small dogs do seem to be more prone to this sort of problem, probably because their owners are tempted to pamper to their needs because of their small and thus cute appearance.

Contrary to the opinion of some Maltese dog profiles, the Maltese can be good with children but does not appreciate rough handling, so as with all toy breeds the child must be taught to be careful with such a delicate sized dog.

Training a Maltese:
The Maltese is certainly an intelligent and lively little character and will be eager to learn and to please their owner.  The regal character they so clearly possess may show itself through an apparent stubbornness if the dog does not understand what is being asked of him or her but with the right training, praise and encouragement your Maltese will soon learn what’s what.

Just because the Maltese is such a small dog does not mean they should be patronised in training; they are a sturdy and intelligent dog and respond to proper training in the same way as any other breed.

Exercise for a Maltese:
The Maltese requires only light exercise, although they have been known to enjoy long walks or playing for longer periods with children if this is how they are brought up.

The Maltese is ideal for those living in smaller homes or without a garden.  They can be quite active indoors, will often play with toys by themselves if encouraged to do so as a puppy and do not require a great deal of exercise.
maltese_showdog
History of the Maltese:
To this day, there is some mystery surrounding the history and origin of the Maltese and the process that made the little dog that the Maltese is today, although some believe the dog was bred from poodles and a Spitz type dog to become a smaller version and others believe they originated in Asia and descend from the Tibetan Terrier.

Even the place of origin cannot be certain.  Some claim the Maltese comes from the Isle of Malta as the name may suggest and others claim from the Sicilian town of Melita.  There is some evidence to support either claim.

The Maltese has been depicted on ancient Roman and Greek works of art that dates back to 500 BC.  The Roman governor Publius is said to have had a Maltese by the name of Issa and even had a portrait of her painted.  Much poetry was written of Publius’ Issa.

Like with many other breeds, the Royal family is deemed to have been a great influence on the popularity of the breed in the UK.  England’s Queen Victoria was said to have the Maltese as her companion.  The breed was very popular and women are said to have carried them in their sleeve and let them sleep on their beds.

One story is particularly well known to those with an interest in the history of the Maltese.  It is said that a pair of Maltese were purchased from the Philippines in 1841 for an extremely high price by a gentleman known only as ‘Mr Lukey’ for the purposes of presenting to the Queen.  During the nine month long return voyage to England, however, the coats of the dogs were neglected and deemed unsuitable for presentation.  The pair was bred and it is said that many of the Maltese now living in Britain and also the United States have these two dogs in their ancestry.

18 Comments »

  1. […] second one — from something called Dream Dogs — strikes me as suspicious: The Maltese has been depicted on ancient Roman and Greek works of […]

    Pingback by A Couple of Claims « rogueclassicism — April 7, 2009 @ 1:42 am

  2. I HAVE A 2MONTH OLD MALTESE I WANTED TO KNOW AT WHAT AGE CAN I BREED HER .ALS WHAT IS THE BEST FOOD TO FEED HER N HOW DO I GET HER EYES CLEAN?PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS INFO.

    Comment by TOYA — May 28, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

  3. Generally, if you want to breed from your bitch it is advisable not to let her breed during her first heat cycle, so the second heat cycle is usually between 12 months and 18 months old but it will vary.

    Regarding food, you should be advised on this from the breeder you purchased her from because sudden changes in diet can cause stomach upset. Check with your vet for recommended foods. Personally, I feed my shih tzu on a complete dry food and either fresh chicken or occasionally tinned dog food.

    To keep their eyes clean, you can buy a product from your local pet store or just gently wipe her eyes daily with a cloth and warm water.

    Comment by Lianne — May 29, 2009 @ 10:03 am

  4. HI THERE,
    I HAVE A 9 MONTH OLD MALTESE LITTLE GIRL. SHE IS A HOOT! WE GOT ANGEL EYES TO TAKE CARE OF THE EYE STAINING. ITS A POWDER SUPPLIMENT THAT YOU ADD TO THERE FOOD. IT WORKED WITHIN 5 DAYS. THE ONLY PROBLEM WE HAVE WITH OUR LITTLE “MISS TROUBLE” IS SHE WILL NOT POTTY TRAIN FOR OUTSIDE. SHE WAS 5 MONTHS OLD WHEN WE GOT HER AND ALL SHE KNEW WAS PETSTORES AND GLASS CAGES. SHE WILL GO IN HER PLAYPEN BUT NOT OUTSIDE NO MATTER HOW LONG SHE IS OUT. SHE IS A GREAT JOY TO US AS WE HAVE NO KIDS LEFT HOME AND GRANDKIDS OLY COME ABOUT 5-6 TIMES AYEAR.
    ENJOY THE MALTESE-THEY ARE GREAT

    Comment by SHERRY — May 30, 2009 @ 6:30 am

  5. Hi, I have a 5 1/2 yr old male, had him all his life, and what a joy he has been. Full of energy, loves everyone. I cant imagine life with out him. To all that have this breed, They are the greatest….

    Comment by Brenda — January 19, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  6. I have two maltese, boy and girl. I love them more than anything. They are my children. Words cannot express how much joy they bring to my life. They have two daughters, one we just found out has kidney disease. I don’t know how this happened to such a young dogs. I am more than devestated or saddened by this news. I love Maltese breed so much, they are the one of the cutest and playfull breeds. They are little sweethearts.

    Comment by Deana — January 21, 2010 @ 12:32 am

  7. hi my name is marco and i have a maltese.This dog is very cute and very friendly.I love very much him because he makes me joy and felicity,
    I bought him in a pet shop 2 months ago is 5 months years old and he’s white and beautiful.I love the maltese breed because is so beautiful and lovely

    Comment by marco — January 31, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

  8. they r d cutesy of all.i love em.

    Comment by disha — June 3, 2010 @ 8:54 am

  9. I just got my first maltese puppy. He such an adorable boy. I found this article very helpful. At 8 weeks old he is very vocal and I just was wondering if there is a suggestion on helping curb the barking early?

    Comment by Peggy — July 14, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

  10. I like Maltese

    Comment by Caroline Kuan Ai Qing — October 3, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  11. malatese r soo cute i just love em im gonna buy one right know there the cutest puppies ever!! when i saw them in internet i waz like aww.. there so cute!!!!!!! <3

    Comment by sofi — October 22, 2010 @ 12:32 am

  12. OMG! i love maltese i want 2 know

    Comment by kaitlyn — December 20, 2010 @ 10:47 pm

  13. I have a female maltese, she is 16 years old. I saw her being born in Cape Town, South Africa, where I was living at the time. I brought her back to England with me when I returned to the UK in 2007. She has been my best friend all those years. Sadly she is now very ill, her kidneys are failing, and I have to make the big decision soon to save her anymore suffering. I am not looking forward to this! Marion

    Comment by marion young — January 1, 2011 @ 6:04 pm

  14. slatki su peseki

    Comment by Dora Kučko — January 2, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

  15. we rescued our little ‘milo’ a month ago from a dog shelter,, oh and what a little bundle of joy he is. Luckily he was housetrained and had obviously had a good prevous owner. He is so naughty cute, and cheeky, rescuing him was one of the best things i ever did. Only negative he is a bit yappy at night if something wakes him. getting used to it now though. He’s gorgeous

    Comment by emilie — March 22, 2011 @ 3:10 pm

  16. I WAS A PROUD OWNER OF DRIZZY, MY HANDSOM PUPPY, UNFORTUNITLY HE WAS KILLED BY A HIT AND RUN DRIVER WHILE WE WERE TAKING HER FOR HIS MORNING WALK, HE WAS THE BEST FRIEND WE COULD OF EVER HAD. I BOUGHT HER FOR MY DAUGHTER 14TH BIRTHDAY,AND BEACUSE SHE GOT STERIGHT A S ALL YEAR, THAT WAS HER AWARD, I WISH THAT DRUNK DRIVER WOULD OF HIT ME INSTEAD ,I WOULD OF LIVED, HE WAS JUST TO TINY WE ONLY GO TWO BLOCKS, HE BROUGHT SO MUCH JOY INTO THIS FAMILY,,MY DAUTHER AND I STILL CRY EVERY TIME WE SEE A WHITE PUPPY. MY OUR DRIZZY REST IN PEACE..WE LOVE YOU DRIZZY…

    Comment by Elaine Thornburg — May 30, 2011 @ 1:42 am

  17. I have a Male and is about 4 years old we had to cut his hair down because he got a bad flea problem , now his back has turn to a redish color any input how to get hiis skin to the prink color again?

    Comment by Jimmy — June 28, 2011 @ 12:16 am

  18. I love dogs!

    Comment by kristina — July 19, 2011 @ 4:08 pm

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