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Maltese Dog Information

Description

The Maltese is one of the most elegant looking of the dogs. They have long, straight white or ivory hair that parts down the center of their back and hangs down to the floor. They ears and tail are also covered with the long, straight hair and the tail arches over the back and cascades down the flank of the dog, giving an almost seamless appearance to the coat. The eyes and nose are very dark and look almost like buttons in the white background. The overall bone structure is rather fine, but the dogs are very sturdy and strong, a bit deceiving in appearance. The head and muzzle are covered with long hair and often the hair above the eyes is pulled back into a clip or elastic.

Temperament

As a general rule the Maltese is a wonderful companion dog provided they are not pampered too much and are taught obedience and socialized properly. They love to snuggle up on their owners lap and prefer to be with people at all times. Well socialized Maltese dogs will bark when strangers are around but will then calm down quickly and accept new people. They are not recommended for homes with small children as they tend to snap if frightened. They also don't like any rough handling, but are surprisingly playful and active. The breed is not difficult to train if positive rewards are used although they are challenging to housetrain. The breed enjoys being outside but will also require daily coat care. They love to be in the water and will often go out of their way to wade through water whenever they can.

Grooming & Shedding

The Maltese will require regular and frequent bathing to prevent staining of the white coat. The dog must be completely dried and kept warm when the coat is drying to avoid illness. The hair is very easy to damage so gentle brushing is required. They eyes and muzzle should be cleaned daily to prevent staining, and the ears should be inspected for wax build-up or infections regularly. The long, single coat will need daily brushing to stay tangle free. The breed is considered a low shedding dog and may be tolerated by owners with allergies. In the warm summer months some owners choose to clip or trim the coat to decrease maintenance requirements.

History

The Maltese is one of the oldest of the toy breeds. It was originally bred on the Island of Malta in 1500 BC. It is believed that the early Maltese that were brought by the Crusaders to what is now the United Kingdom and Italy where probably crossed with early miniature poodles and spaniels to give the distinctive all white coat that is now characteristic of the breed. The Maltese was popular with women of the royal courts and was often the lapdog or companion dog for women of nobility.  When the breed was first accepted in England it was originally called the Maltese Terrier, with the terrier designation no longer existing.

Health Issues

  • Major Concerns:
  • Minor Concerns: patellar luxation, entropion open fontanel, hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus, distichiasis
  • Occasionally seen:  White Shaker Dog Syndrome (tremors), deafness
  • Suggested tests: knee, eye, hearing

 

Characteristics

Height

8-10 inches (21-25cm)

Weight

6½-9 pounds (3-4kg)

Lifespan

15 years

Exercise

Low – regular walks are required

Apartment

Yes

Families

Yes/

Young Children

No

Need exercise space

No – will self-exercise indoors

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