One of the earliest writers on dogs, Dr John Caius, wrote of the Maltese in the sixteenth century and described it as “very small indeed and chiefly sought after for the pleasure and amusement of women who carried them in their arms, their bosoms, and their beds".
These little dogs have been found in the Mediterranean countries for centuries where the Maltese was a pampered lapdog. Riding around in carriages, sleeping on beds, and being fed the choicest morsels, they certainly led a charmed existence.
The Greek philosopher Theophrastus described the breed as belonging to the ‘Melita’ breed, an archaic name for Malta. It was developed in Italy with the addition of miniature spaniel and poodle blood. It is thought that they were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The breed became particularly popular with women, however, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, prized his Maltese enough to commission a portrait of ‘Issa’. Today, the glamorous Maltese is an adored pet and sought-after show dog.
Although Maltese, with their pure white cloak of long silky hair, are usually thought of in terms of plush cushions and luxurious surroundings, for all their diminutive size, they seem to be without fear. They are in fact filled with spunky determination and despite the lack of stature, they make good watchdogs. Although they do not take easily to strangers, they are very affectionate towards their owners. They have a sweet, loving yet mischievous temperament, and are very much the individualist.
The Maltese trust and affectionate responsiveness is very appealing. They are among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet lively and playful as well as vigorous.
Maltese enjoy regular walks and playing in the park. They tend to remain playful into old age and their activity in and around the home will ensure they remain well exercised.
Those who wish to love and be loved by a Maltese must be prepared to devote time to a daily groom. Clean the eyes daily to prevent staining, and clean the beard after meals for the same reason. Dogs kept as pets can be clipped shorter for ease of care but the real beauty of the breed lies in the abundant, silky pure white coat. The Maltese sheds little to no hair which is good for allergy sufferers. They do, however, enjoy a frolic outdoors and have a penchant for jumping in puddles, so be prepared for lots of baths!
Size & Weight
The Maltese height is approximately 23 to 25 cm and it weighs around 3 to 4.5 kg.
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