Meet the Maltese! This elegant toy dog breed is famed for the silky white hair covering its body. Straight and thick, the coat falls all the way to the floor. They stay small and compact and should weigh no more than seven pounds at maturity. Many years ago, Maltese came in many colors, but these days they are always white. Because they do not have an undercoat, Maltese shed very little, and many people consider the breed to be hypoallergenic. Maltese are sweet, intelligent dogs who are devoted to their people. As one of the smallest of the toy breeds, they are well suited to apartment or condo living. Despite their delicate appearance, they can have a lot of energy, but are also very responsive to training when rewarded.
The Origin of the Maltese:
The exact origin of the Maltese is uncertain. Many believe the breed was developed in the isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea from Spitz- or Spaniel-type dogs. Others believe they were developed in Italy, and still others believe that they are originally from Asia and had a part in developing many of the smaller Asian dogs.
Wherever they came from, the Maltese have thrived. By the 15th century, they had found a secure place in the arms and hearts of French aristocrats. During the reign of Henry VIII, Maltese arrived in the British Isles. By the end of the 16th century, the Maltese had become a favorite pet for noble and royal ladies. The little dog was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria. Numerous painters, including Goya and Sir Joshua Reynolds, included these small dogs in their portraits of beautiful women.
The number of Maltese dogs registered with the AKC grew very slowly until the 1950’s. Since then, the breed has become quite popular. Maltese are one of the most popular breeds among spectators at dog shows, and frequently win the toy group. They also have an excellent record in the “Best In Show” competition.
Care and Grooming:
The long, white coat of the Maltese is eye-catching and glorious. However, it does require daily gentle brushing and combing to the skin to prevent mats and tangles. Maltese should also have regular baths and coat conditioning to keep their hair looking its best. They have fast growing nails that should be trimmed regularly. Check their ears weekly, and remove any excess hair or wax and any accumulated debris. Because Maltese are prone to dental disease as they get older, their teeth should be brushed frequently- ideally each time their coat is brushed. Be sure to keep their eyes clean and dry to avoid tear staining. Seeing a professional groomer on a regular basis is recommended as their coat can be prone to matting.
The Maltese is a healthy breed with few health issues and will usually live well into the double digits. Responsible breeders screen their stock for health conditions such as luxating patella and heart anomalies such as PDA ( patent ductus arteriosus). It is recommended that Maltese puppies be bile-acid tested to rule out congenital liver issues such as liver shunt and microvascular dysplasia. As in all toy breeds, dental maintenance is important, and Maltese should have their teeth brushed daily with a toothpaste specially formulated for dogs, as well as routine cleanings at the vet.
This sprightly, and visually stunning breed excels at companionship and make excellent therapy dogs. They love to be with their people and make ideal apartment dogs. They have relatively few health issues and typically live long full lives. They do require above average care in the grooming department and also need to have some exercise or playtime. They are very intelligent and learn quickly if rewarded for their efforts. Maltese are not recommended for families with small children due to them being injured easily because of their small size. Like all dogs, they require proper socialization and basic obedience training.
If you have a Maltese, or any breed- we'd love to help you keep your dog happy and healthy with proper, expertly done groomings! Call or book online today!