The Maltese is of spaniel origin, and has been a household pet for many centuries.
Should suggest a vigorous, well-balanced dog with a mantle of long white straight coat hanging evenly down each side.
The Maltese is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs. They are intelligent, vigorous, very affectionate and seemingly fearless. Overaggressive or too timid behaviour is to be severely penalized.
Weight under 7 lb. (3 kg) with from 4-6 lb. (2-2.7 kg) preferred. Overall quality is to be favoured over size.
Should be of good length, but not so as to impede action. The coat is single, that is, with no undercoat. It hangs flat, straight and silky on either side of the centre part, which should run from tip of nose to tip of tail. The texture should be even throughout with no suggestion of woolliness, curliness, or cosmetic alteration. The long head hair may be tied up in a single topknot or divided into two. White colour is preferred, but light beige or lemon markings are permissible.
Head in proportion to the size of the dog. From stop to centre of the skull (centre being between forepart of the ears) and stop to tip of the nose should be equally balanced. The skull is slightly rounded, rather broad between the ears and moderately well defined at the temples. The stop is moderate. The muzzle is fine and slightly tapered, but not snipey, with a good firm underjaw. The nose is small, black, and in balance with the size of the eyes. Teeth may meet in an even edge to edge bite or in a scissors bite. The lips should be black. Eyes should be dark brown with black eye rims. Halos of pigmentation around the eyes gives a more beautiful expression. The shape is not quite round but not almond shaped, and their size should be in proportion to the size of the face, there should be no suggestion of bulging or prominence and the expression should be gentle but very alert. Ears should be low set, the hair long and well feathered and hanging close to the side of the head, the hair to be mingled with the coat at the neck and shoulders.
Of sufficient length and proportion to the body to give a high carriage of head.
The shoulder blades are sloping at an approximate 45 degree angle, elbows are well knit and held close to the body. Forelegs are straight, their pastern joints well knit and devoid of appreciable bend. The feet should be round and small. Pads of the feet are black. The hair around the feet may be trimmed to give a neater appearance.
Should be in every way balanced. The dog should be compact, with the height from the withers to the ground to equal the length from the withers to the root of the tail. The topline should be straight and level from the tip of the shoulders to the root of the tail. Ribs should be well sprung, chest fairly deep, at least to the elbows, the loins taut, strong and well tucked up underneath.
Legs are fine boned and nicely feathered. Hind legs are strong and moderately angulated at the stifles and hock. The hock is straight, turning neither in nor out.
Is set high and should be long haired and carried well arched over the back with the tip resting on the hindquarter on either side.
The gait should be smooth and flowing without weaving. In stride the forelegs reach forward, straight and free from the shoulders, elbows close. The hind legs move in a straight line with good driving action. The topline is level, head held high and tail carried gracefully over the back resting on the hindquarters.
The Maltese are relatively easy to train with the few exceptions. Avoid over spoiling your little puppy as Maltese tend to become needy if allowed to do so. This could cause separation anxiety which will be hard for both you and your little Maltese. The breed is very willing to learn and eager to please, they are bred to be a companion and fulfill this promise. We encourage training centers which offer a wide range of puppy classes as socialization is the key to a well balanced dog. See our Care page for more information on training and links.
As a single coated dog the Maltese sheds very little, therefore regular daily brushing is necessary to keep a tangle/mat free coat. The proper tools are a must! They include a small metal double sided (fine/medium) comb, pin brush and a good conditioning spray. Well equipped with the tools of the trade you and your Maltese should start with short brushing sessions with lots of rewards and treats. Soon your little Maltese will love grooming and enjoy the quality time spent together. Most people prefer a short Maltese trim which allows a more relaxed grooming routine. This is often referred to as a puppy cut, or teddy bear trim. See more infomation and images on our Grooming page.
Maltese are very healthy dogs with a long life expectancy of 12 to 14 years and older. Although they are very healthy the Maltese like most small dogs are susceptible to dental problems including retained baby teeth, hypoglycemia, patellar luxation, and possible allergies. To help your puppy with teething we recommend lots of toys and safe chewable treats (bully-sticks and Nylabone). When you have your puppy spayed/neutered your veterinarian can remove any retained baby teeth. Your puppy should be given Nutri-Cal or canned dog food two to three times a day to prevent hypoglycemia. Small dogs are also prone to patellar luxation (dislocation of knee cap) to varying degrees. We recommend you talk to your veterinarian about patellar luxation and prevention.
Tear-staining is common in light coloured breeds (Maltese, West Highland White Terriers, Pomeranians, Poodles, Shih Tzu’s, Havanese, Coton Du Tulear, etc…) there are many products which will control and remove tear-stains Clear Quest and Eye Envy to name a few. There are many causes, preventions and treatments for tear-staining our recommendation is frequent grooming with tear free shampoo.
- Maltese are noted as one of the oldest breed of dogs, some claim the breed to be older than 3000 years!
- As far back as 1500’s Maltese have been a luxury dog selling for as much as $2000
- Famous people to own Maltese include; Elizabeth Taylor, Halle Berry, Heather Locklear, Anna Nicole Smith and Lindsay Lohan.
- The richest dog in the world is a Maltese; “Trouble” inherited 12 million dollars from his owner Leona Helmley.
- Maltese originated from the Mediterranean island of Malta where they got their name.
- The Maltese although sometimes called a ‘Maltese Terrier’ is not a terrier at all and shares ancestry with spaniel type dogs.
- The Maltese has also been called the ‘Little Lion Dog’ and ‘Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta’
- In the 19th century all colors other than white where bred out of the Maltese.
- The Maltese coat although always white can range in hue from gold, pearl, or blue.
- Maltese are hypoallergenic and have hair not fur which means they are low shedding and great for allergy suffers.
- The first Maltese to be registered with the Canadian Kennel Club was in 1899