The Maltese may be the oldest European toy dog breed. It has been documented since the first century AD. A sweet and intelligent breed, the Maltese is usually good with children and they make terrific pets. The breed, though small, is sturdy and energetic, and also makes a good hunter. The Maltese is usually thought of in terms of plush cushions and luxurious surroundings, but he is a fearless dog, filled with attitude and character. In spite of his diminutive stature, the Maltese makes a great watchdog. He will not take to strangers, though he is very affectionate towards his owner family. He is sweet and loving, yet very independent.
For many generations, the Maltese was the household pet of the wealthy and cultured, and many say that this explains his own refinement, cleanliness, and his need to be the center of attention. Maltese are very receptive to training based on positive reinforcement, and early introduction to people outside the family and other dogs is important, as Maltese may bite strangers and want to take on bigger dogs.The Maltese will tolerate children if they are gentle, and is also friendly with cats.
It is an ideal dog for the city or for apartment living because of its size and minimal exercise requirements. The dog is not a good choice for families with small children unless its owner can provide supervision.The Maltese is a very small toy dog, reaching a height of 5 inches and a maximum of about 7 pounds. Its luxurious white coat will hang down to the ground, and the hair on its head may be tied or left to hang. The coat requires daily brushing to keep its elegant appearance.
Sometimes its ears will have light tan or lemon markings. The coat is single, without an undercoat. It hangs long and flat over the sides of the body, almost touching the ground. Kinky, curly, or woolly texture of coat is objectionable. The Maltese is compact with sloping shoulder blades and well-sprung ribs. Its chest is deep and strong.The Maltese originated in Italy and was once known as the “Lion Dog.”