The Maltese is a refined, elegant and distinguished small breed of dog that is perfect for a wide range of different households and living situations. They are a great apartment dog for an older owner while they also do very well in an active household with children.
The Maltese, as a breed, was first developed in Italy, specifically in Malta, and is believed to be a cross between Toy and Miniature Poodles and some breed of miniature spaniel. The dogs were so treasured by their owners that they were considered to be a part of the family at a time when dogs were basically working animals. In fact in the royal courts of the time the dogs slept in beds and women actually carried these dogs in the sleeves of their elaborate dresses.
Today the bright, personable and highly intelligent Maltese is still a very regal looking companion dog. They do have a resemblance to a Poodle in their face with button eyes that are very dark and round. The muzzle is tapered and moderate in length and the ears are low set and pendant, framing the face.
When left natural, the coat of the Maltese parts down the spine and hangs down almost to the ground. It is not curly or wavy but rather very straight, fine and silky. This breed is always pure white or a light ivory color with no other markings on the body. The coat, which needs to be groomed every other day when long, sheds very little and this may be a good option for people with allergies to dog dander.
The long coat of the Maltese can mat easily and create painful lesions on the skin where the mats and tangles rub. The part along the spine can also be prone to burning in the summer months. Careful, regular grooming, clipping and general skin care can help alleviate any of these issues. Some Maltese also have early tooth loss and dental problems so be sure to have your vet complete regular dental checks with your semi-annual visits. The breed is not appropriate as an outside dog and staying in cold, wet conditions is very damaging to this small breed’s health.
The Maltese is a great dog with children and other animals and is naturally very sociable and accepting of people. They will bark to warn you of strangers but are smart enough to learn who is a threat and who is a friend. They love to play and are very active indoors, minimizing the need for lots of outside exercise. A longer brisk walk a day and some structured play is all these dogs will need to stay healthy and happy.