Maltese Dog, Companion Dog

The Maltese is a small breed of dog in the toy group, known for its silky white hair, though many owners of pet Maltese give them a short "puppy cut" for ease of grooming. The Maltese breed is descended from dogs originating in the Central Mediterranean Area. The breed name and origins are generally understood to derive from the Mediterranean island of Malta; however, the name is sometimes described with reference to the Adriatic island of Méléda, or a defunct Sicilian town called Melita.

The Maltese had been recognized as a FCI breed under the patronage of Italy in 1954, at the annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland. The current FCI standard is dated November 27, 1989, and the latest translation from Italian to English is dated April 6, 1998. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1888, its latest standard being from March 10, 1964.

Maltese Appearance

Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome and black nose that is two finger-widths long. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with long hair and very dark eyes, surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a "halo"), gives Maltese their expressive look. Their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color without exposure to sunlight. This is often referred to as a "winter nose" and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun.

Maltese Coat and color

The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. The color is pure white; although cream or light lemon ears are permissible, they are not regarded as desirable. Also, a pale ivory tinge is permitted. In some standards, traces of pale orange shades are tolerated, but considered an imperfection.

Maltese Size

Adult Maltese range from roughly 3 to 7 lb (1.4 to 3.2 kg), though dog breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 4 and 7 lb (1.8 and 3.2 kg). There are variations depending on which standard is being used. Many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally less than 7 lb with between 4 and 6 lb preferred.


Maltese are bred to be cuddly companion dogs, and thrive on love and attention. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, his or her energy level and playful demeanor remain fairly constant. Some Maltese may occasionally be snappish with smaller children and should be supervised when playing, although socializing them at a young age will reduce this habit. The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason, the dog breed also fares well in apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers. Maltese have a bad reputation as yappers.

An Australia-wide (not including Tasmania) research project carried out in conjunction with RSPCA found owners likely to dump their Maltese terriers, citing the tendency of Maltese to bark constantly. This breed is Australia's most dumped dog.


Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives Poodles and Bichon Frise, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese. Daily cleaning is required to prevent the risk of tear-staining.

Regular grooming is also required to prevent the coats of non-shedding dogs from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut," a 1 - 2" all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some owners, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long fur to keep it from matting and breaking off, and then to show the dog with the hair unwrapped combed out to its full length.

Dark staining in the hair around the eyes, "tear staining," can be a problem in this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog's eyes water and the size of the tear ducts. Tear stain can be readily removed if a fine-toothed metal comb, moistened with lukewarm water, is carefully drawn through the snout hair just below the eyes. This maintenance activity must be performed every two or three days, as a layer of sticky film is quick to redevelop. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the staining can be minimized. Many veterinarians recommend avoiding foods treated with food coloring, and serving distilled water to reduce tear staining.

Top 100 Pets Sites on - Add your Site, Boost Your Traffic! Dog Topsite The Puppy Network Top Dog Sites
List your site in the Hot Vs Not web directory You can find other related resources in the Pets Directory