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Maltese Dog Breed: Dogs of Nobility

Updated on April 26, 2017

Did the Maltese dog originated in Malta, as is popularly believed? If so, why is there evidence of this tiny yet regal dog punctuating various time periods and geographies of history?

  • During the time of the apostle Paul, governor Publius owned a Maltese named Issa. Claudius (10 BC to 54 AD) also owned one.
  • Ancient Egyptians worshiped them. Roman ladies carried them in the sleeves of their garments to stay warm, Italian painters incorporated them into their art, and the Greeks decorated their pottery with images of Maltese dogs.
  • In a 1607 account, there is record of a Maltese that was sold for $2,000. Although they were the favorite lap dogs of the noble class, their gentle spirits and affectionate natures have earned them a solid place in the hearts of most.

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Maltese puppies are precious little bundles of fur. As the puppies mature, the coat begins to smooth out and start to acquire the silky look of the full-grown Maltese breed. The Maltese dog breed standard calls for a pure white coat or one with slight flecks of lemon shading. Maltese show dog with puppy clip or puppy cut coat. Pair of Pin-up pups from the 2007 calendar for the Metropolitan Maltese Rescue.
Maltese puppies are precious little bundles of fur.
Maltese puppies are precious little bundles of fur. | Source
As the puppies mature, the coat begins to smooth out and start to acquire the silky look of the full-grown Maltese breed.
As the puppies mature, the coat begins to smooth out and start to acquire the silky look of the full-grown Maltese breed. | Source
The Maltese dog breed standard calls for a pure white coat or one with slight flecks of lemon shading.
The Maltese dog breed standard calls for a pure white coat or one with slight flecks of lemon shading. | Source
Maltese show dog with puppy clip or puppy cut coat.
Maltese show dog with puppy clip or puppy cut coat. | Source
Pair of Pin-up pups from the 2007 calendar for the Metropolitan Maltese Rescue.
Pair of Pin-up pups from the 2007 calendar for the Metropolitan Maltese Rescue. | Source

What Do Maltese Look Like?

The Maltese is a compact dog whose muscular body is concealed by its long flowing hair. The nose should always be black and provide a sharp contrast to the white coat.

Faint lemon markings are permissible, but pure white is preferred. The head is slightly round, with a tapered muzzle. Ears should drop rather than sit erect and be heavily feathered. Tails arch gracefully and are plumed.

Maltese puppy coats are typically cut in what is called a puppy cut or puppy clip that is similar to the puppy cut for Poodles (see photo gallery for an image.)

As the dogs mature, the hair grows longer and silkier and will eventually touch the floor. Some owners have been known to refer to their Maltese—quite lovingly, of course!—as dustmops or mops with feet.

Maltese Breed Accepted Point of Origin

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malta:
Malta

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Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts and tidbits to better acquaint you with this ancient and regal dog breed:

  • The Maltese breed originated in Malta.
  • They belong to the AKC Toy group. The first dog was Topsy (AKC number 12056) and was registered in 1888.
  • Their original purpose was as a companion animal for royalty.
  • Maltese are known by many different nicknames such as Maltese Lion dog, “ye ancient dogge of Malta”, Maltese terrier, Melitae dog,Comforter, Spaniel Gentle, Shock Dog, and Roman Ladies’ dog.
  • Their average life span is 15 to 17 years.
  • Maltese are lively, playful dogs that crave human attention.
  • Some of their known health problems are a collapsing trachea, liver shunts, hypoglycemia, skin allergies, and white shaker dog syndrome.
  • Since they are highly intelligent; obedience training is strongly suggested.
  • The breed is good with older children and pets but wary of strangers. Younger children may be too rough and could injure these small dogs.

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Grooming Tips & Suggested Supplies

Because of their long silky coats, Maltese are high maintenance in terms of grooming. Their coats need a daily brushing to prevent mats and tangles, and regular baths to preserve their snow white coloration.

A monthly professional grooming, along with daily touch-ups, will keep your Maltese in show-dog condition. Here are some typical supplies that Maltese owners use to keep their dogs well-groomed:

  • Curved slicker brush for all-over brushing, removing dead hair, and preventing mats
  • Matting comb to remove mats
  • A medium/fine combination metal comb to comb out the coat and style the topknot
  • Bows to tie or clip onto the topknot; rubber bands to secure it
  • Nail clippers to trim the nails and a nail groomer to smooth any jagged edges
  • Cotton balls to use with eye drops to cleanse the eyes and remove any eye stains and to protect the ears from watering during baths
  • Scissors to trim the hair between the foot pads, and around the eyes

Brush the coat daily with the slicker brush to remove debris from the coat, but be careful not to scratch the dog’s skin with the sharp edges. Comb the coat thoroughly and then part the hair down the middle from the top of the head to the base of the tail. Gather the loose hair around the face and comb upward to form the topknot. Secure with a small rubber band and accent with a bow.

Now that you know important Maltese breed info, you might consider obtaining one. You may want to start your search with Northcentral Maltese Rescue, Inc. or with the AKC Online Breeder Classifieds.

Train Your Maltese to Do Tricks

Resources

All (87) Breed Dog Grooming for the Beginner, T.F. H. Publications

The Complete Dog Book, Official Publication of the AKC, 18th edition

Maltese: A Comprehensive Guide to Owning and Caring for Your Dog, A Kennel Club Book, Juliette Cunliffe

The Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition, edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe

Share Your Thoughts About the Maltese Dog Breed

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    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      Hey, Debbie...thanks for stopping by and sharing your input. I've never had a Maltese but they look like awesome little dogs. Good luck with your boy.

    • debbiepinkston profile image

      Debbie Pinkston 

      6 years ago from Pereira, Colombia and NW Arkansas

      Great hub with lots of information. I had never owned a Maltese until 2009 when I adopted a Maltese boy from a local shelter. He's adorable...see my hub.

      Thank you!

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Eddy, for taking time to read and comment on this hub. I really appreciate your kind words:)

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Eddy, for taking time to read and comment on this hub. I really appreciate your kind words:)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 

      6 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub and thanks for sharing.

      Take care

      Eddy.

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      Hi Deborah: Yes, these little ball of fur just grab your heart, don't they? Thank you for the votes and feedback. It's always so nice to hear what you think about my hubs.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love Maltese's they are so adorable.. love them.. great HUB...I VOTED UP AND AWESOME

    • DonnaCosmato profile imageAUTHOR

      Donna Cosmato 

      6 years ago from USA

      Hi amymarie_5...thank you for sharing your thoughts about the awesome Maltese dog breed! I'm glad you enjoyed this and I certainly appreciate your vote of confidence and support.

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 

      6 years ago from Chicago IL

      Malteses are so cute. I love this breed of dog. I learned a lot from reading this. The ancient Egyptians worshipped the Maltese.. who knew!?

      Voted up & interesting. :)

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