An aristocratic-looking toy dog, with dark eyes and a pure white coat that is long and silky, the Maltese dog is a most striking dog. An adult Maltese is 25cm and under in height and weighs approximately 1.8-2.7kg.
One of the oldest established breeds, Charles Darwin traced the Maltese dog breed back to 6000 BC. A member of the Bichon family of dogs from the Mediterranean area, it's known that Publius, the Roman Governor of Malta in the 1st century AD had a Maltese-type dog called Issa. The breed has been favoured by royalty and the aristocracy throughout its history and is pictured in art with Queen Elizabeth I and other royals. Mary Queen of Scots is said to have had a Maltese dog hiding under her skirts when she was beheaded.
Small, sweet-tempered and glamorous, this toy dog isn't just a pretty face – he can be feisty at times! Alert to his surroundings, he can be vocal and should be trained from young not to bark at the slightest provocation.
Like many small breeds, the Maltese dog can suffer from kneecaps that may temporarily slip out of place (luxating patellas). Hereditary eye disorders can also occur and so eye testing is recommended.
Half an hour's daily exercise will keep the Maltese dog content, though he is capable of more if you can offer it. He can be surprisingly game when out and about, and his past history as a one-time vermin catcher can come to the fore!
Toy dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.
Daily grooming is needed to keep the long, silky coat tangle-free. If neglected, mats will form, which will become painful for the dog. Getting a Maltese puppy to view grooming as a rewarding experience is therefore very important.