Maltese: History and Appearance
The Maltese has a long and ancient history that extends back over twenty-eight centuries. The breed comes from Malta, where it gets its name. There are writings describing the breed that date back as early as the first century A.D. when the poet, Martial, wrote an epigram about the Roman governor’s pet dog. The epigram describes not only the dog’s virtues, but also a painting that was made of the animal.
Over time, many other classical writings describing the breed have been discovered. In a place that prized knowledge, culture, and the arts, it appeared that the Maltese breed of dog was also valued.
The dog was valued by both the Greeks and the Egyptians. The breed is featured on both Egyptian and Greek art. It is said that the Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese, and that it was the favored pet of ancient queens.
The Maltese is believed to have been brought to Europe by Crusaders or Nomadic tribes. The breed became favored by royalty, especially women. It was said that both Queen Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette owned Maltese.
In the time of Queen Elizabeth I, many more began to write about the dog. It was noted for its small size and the fact that its purpose was completely as a companion dog. It was noted that the breed was a favored pet among women, and was carried everywhere. The breed was also described for its value, and was even said to have been sold for as much as $2,000, which in those times would have been a considerable sum.
Over the years, the Maltese was continually written about by travelers, many of whom marveled at its small size and lustrous coat. However, as time went on, Malta was no longer the home of the wealthy and the aristocracy, and instead became a land of poor shepherds and the common people. The smaller breed of Maltese appeared to be dying out.
However, the Maltese breed experienced a new surge of popularity in the 1800’s. It became prized as a pet for the common folk, and soon became a dog desired for show. Careful breeding began to take place, and the Maltese we know today was established by the 19th century.
The Maltese, like the Lhasa Apso, was a breed that the kennel clubs were unsure what to call, much less classify. The first Maltese that was shown at the American Kennel Club was called a “Maltese Lion Dog.” The Westminster Kennel Club called the breed a “Maltese Skye Terrier.” It was later determined that the breed was not a terrier, and with some adjustments to the standard as well as the breed’s parent clubs, the Maltese was accepted into the American Kennel Club as a “Maltese.” It is currently grouped with the toy breeds.
The Maltese is still very popular as a pet, and though it is considered to be an elegant companion dog, it is also becoming known as a worker. In the past, though the breed was the treasured pet of the aristocracy, it was also known for its ability as a rat catching dog. Today, the Maltese is being put to work as a therapy dog.
Noted for its diminutive size by the writers of the past, the Maltese only reaches about 9 to 10 inches in height. This little dog usually weighs around 4 to 6 lbs., but should never be more than 7 lbs. Despite its elegant and graceful appearance, the Maltese is actually quite sturdy and strong. The neck is slightly longer, as the head is carried high. The body is compact and equal in proportion. The back is level, and the abdomen is tucked up.
The Maltese has a slightly rounded head, featuring drop ears that are low set. The eyes are very dark, round, and black rimmed. The eyes should not be set far apart. The dog has a medium length muzzle that is tapered, but it should not be pointy, or “snipy.” The teeth meet in a scissors bite. The dog’s nose is black.
The Maltese is not a heavy boned breed. It is considered to be fairly fine boned, with straight legs and strong joints. The feet are small, round, and well padded.
Aside from its small size, one of the most unique features of the Maltese is its long, lustrous coat. The Maltese is covered from head to toe in long, silky fur. The fur is kept so long that it often reaches to the ground. The longer coat is single, and does not have an undercoat. The hair is flat and silky, and hangs down the sides of the body. The legs and ears are well feathered, while the face may have a mustache or beard. The tail is fully plumed and is carried over the back. Often, the hair on the head is tied up into a top knot or held back with a bow to keep it out of the dog’s face. Maltese come in only one color: pure snowy white. Some dogs may have a bit of tan or yellow on the ears, but it is not preferred.
Showing a Maltese
In show, the Maltese should move smoothly and freely. The dog should move rapidly, with a jaunty gait. The feet or legs should not turn in when the dog moves. Despite its small size, the breed should be confident and without fear. The Maltese should be gently, approachable, and lively at the same time. The breed should not show any evidence of timidity or fear.
Careful attention is paid to the coat. The Maltese should not have hair that is wooly, curly, or kinked. The hair should flow smoothly and naturally. Some trimming is permitted around the feet for neatness, but excessive grooming or trimming is not permissible.
The Maltese should not have a pointed muzzle or wide set eyes. The Maltese should not weigh over 7 lbs., though quality will be considered over size.
1$ soldfor sale in: Pennsylvania