The Maltese is characterized by its small size, long white coat, cute black button nose, and large, round dark eyes. The eye rims are black. Though small and fine boned, the Maltese is fairly sturdy and compact with a deep chest. The body is square to slightly rectangular in build with a level topline. The head is slightly domed. The ears are pendulous with heavy feathering. The coat is single and is actually hair, not fur, so this breed may be a better choice for allergy sufferers. The hair may be white, ivory, or have lemon tones to it. The coat can be kept in the long show cut but many pet owners opt to keep them in a puppy cut for easier maintenance.
The Maltese was developed in Italy and first recognized as a breed on the Island of Malta. The dog has been documented through ancient Greek and Roman literature and artifacts. This dog became the companion of royal ladies throughout the world, being carried in their clothing and sleeping in their beds. This tradition carries to today with the Maltese being a favored "purse" dog.
The Maltese is well suited as a companion having been bred for this purpose for thousands of years. They are gentle, lively, and playful, and very devoted to their owner. They are intelligent and sensitive to the needs of their family members. Take care not to coddle these dogs too much and encourage Small Dog Syndrome. May be difficult to house break. Supervise these dogs with small children as they could be injured with rambunctious play.
Breed Club Links: American Maltese Association
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Photo courtesy of Dan Bennett.
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