Dogs love company. They place it first in their short list of needs. – J.R. Ackerley
The Maltese has been known in art work for nearly 3,000 years and is one of the oldest breeds in Europe. Ancestors of this dog lived in port cities around the Mediterranean where they hunted rats and mice. There have been many mentions of similar dogs in the writings of the ancient Greeks and Roman. The dogs likely came to Europe via the Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes.
Generally believed to hail from the island of Malta, the Maltese is a member of the bichon family. Royal favourites at the lavish courts of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte, and Marie Antoinette, they have been pampered pets for hundreds of years.
The Maltese were specifically bred to be companions, a role they fill exceptionally well today.
Photos displayed courtesy of Jessamyn and Barbara, JBLittle Maltese Reg’d, Ontario
As an aristocrat of the canine world, this ancient breed has been known by a variety of names throughout the centuries including the Melitaie Dog, “Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta”, the Roman Ladies’ Dog, the Comforter Dog, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, the Shock Dog, the Maltese Lion Dog and the Maltese Terrier.
The Maltese stands just 10 inches (25.4 cm) tall at the shoulder and weighs less than seven pounds (3 kg). His coat is long, silky, white and hangs straight on either side of a center part, which runs from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. The coat may reach the ground. Daily grooming is necessary. A shorter, pet clip may help reduce the amount of grooming necessary. He has soulful dark eyes that give him an endearing expression.
An alert, animated little dog, this gentle-mannered dog makes a good watchdog. He is also affectionate, friendly, and playful. His playful attitude and energy levels will remain constant even as he ages.
Principally bred to be a companion, he fits well into the smallest accommodation. He enjoys being petted and fussed over but he is a sturdy little dog who enjoys a good romp. The Maltese is very active indoors, and prefers enclosed spaces. Even the smallest yards and apartments are ample for his needs.
Although he has a reputation for being good-natured, he may be intolerant of small children or other dogs. He can be protective of his owner and will bark or may bite if animals or people infringe on his territory or are perceived as a threat.
The Maltese is intelligent and easy to train but he can be strong-willed. Training should begin early. He is known for being difficult to housebreak. A litter box may help. He requires minimal exercise but does enjoy getting outside for a walk.
It should be noted that the Maltese barks. This is a tendency that should be addressed with early, firm training. Studies done in Australia and South Korea found that the Maltese is the most abandoned dog in those two countries. The reason: excessive barking!