AKC Dog Breeds: Maltese

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Toy Group
Height:9-10 inches  Weight: 4-6 pounds  Color: white

A toy dog covered from head to toe with a mantle of long, silky white hair, the Maltese is gentle-mannered and affectionate, known for being lively, playful and fearless despite its small size. Maltese are intelligent little dogs that are very fast learners if they feel sufficiently rewarded. Today, their refinement, cleanliness and portability make them a popular choice as a companion dog. The Maltese was once known as "Ye ancient dogge of Malta," for that is where they were first recognized and how they received their name. The breed has been an aristocrat of the canine world for over 28 centuries, owned by royalty all over the globe. Even as far back as the 1500’s they were claimed to be sold for $2,000. And while other companion dogs such as the Pomeranian have been bred down from larger sizes, the first Maltese were the same size as the dogs we see today.

General Appearance
The Maltese is a hardy little companion dog with a luxurious silky white coat hanging straight to the ground on each side of a center part line. The coat is single, with no undercoat, and should not be wavy, curly or kinky. It should be made of shiny, thick, heavy hair which is about 8½ inches (22cm.) long. The color is pure white, although light ivory is acceptable. The long pendant ears and tail are thickly covered with hair and the tail drapes over the back. The eyes are dark, round, large and deep with dark rims. The muzzle tapers slightly and should be one-third the length of the total head. It should have a black nose with open nostrils and a distinct stop. The body is slightly longer than tall with a level topline. The Maltese is fine-boned, but sturdy. A properly built Maltese seems to float along the ground under his cloud of white hair.


The Maltese is a popular toy dog, ranking fairly high on the AKC popularity list. Mild mannered, affectionate, and loving, the Maltese makes a fine companion dog and a good family pet. Thee dogs are well suited to inexperienced dog owners as well as to the more experienced, and their intelligence, alertness, and high learning rate helps to make training easier - although they can be very difficult to housebreak. The Maltese has plenty of energy and spirit, and loves to play. He has an inquisitive and curious nature, and for a small dog can be quite confident when well socialized. These dogs tend to fare well in obedience training, and enjoy a variety of mental stimulation to keep them alert. The Maltese is a dog that thrives on the love, affection, and companionship of his family, and is not the breed for those with little time to dedicate to a pet. He makes an effective watchdog, as he will bark to raise an alarm or to announce visitors. The Maltese gets along well with children but does not like to be handled roughly, so gentler, older children are best suited to this breed. They will usually be police and friendly around strangers, but many will not get along with other pets, and may stand up to much larger dogs.

Daily grooming is required to keep your Maltese coat clean and snarl free. Many owners will keep them what is commonly referred to as a "puppy cut", where the hair is kept 1-2 inches all over the entire the body, where they then closely resemble a puppy. Though for ones that are keep in a coat for conformation, a lot more upkeep is needed. They often wrap the long hair to keep it from matting and snarling up. Dead hair needs to be brushed and plucked out, as the breed does not shed; the coat will become matted if the dead hair is not removed. Maltese often have tear staining, the dog's eyes water excessively and turns the hair around the eyes a dark brown-black color. It is not really known what causes tear staining, though most owners have found that using bottled water versus tap water does decrease the amount of staining. It is also possible to have their tear ducts flushed, which may or may not help.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Maltese does not usually suffer from any major health problems, though because of their size there are a few things to watch out for. Patellar luxation (in which the knee will pop out of place), hypoglycemia (low glucose or sugar level), slipped stifle, and problems with anesthetics. Some minor problems are: having an open fontanel (soft spot on head), hydrocephalus, distichiasis, Entropion, teeth and gum issues, eye infections, liver problems, and low thyroid. Occasionally, deafness and white shaker dog syndrome is seen. White Shaker-Dog Syndrome is primarily seen in small white dogs, it causes an all-over tremor that may cause difficulty in walking. This disorder usually develops when they are adolescents or adults, and can be treated with medication. The life expectancy of the Maltese is around 12-15 years.

Activity Level
The Maltese does not require a high level of exercise. They are suitable for apartment or condominium living. They enjoy a daily walk, indoor play sessions, or a romp and run in a secured small yard. The Maltese loves to be social, so a play date at the park is always welcomed. .


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