Generally believed to hail
from the island of Malta, the Maltese is a member of the bichon family. A
royal favourite at the courts of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots,
Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte, and Marie Antoinette, the Maltese has
pampered pet for hundreds of years.
As an aristocrat of the canine world, this
ancient breed has been known by a variety of names throughout the
centuries including the Melitaie Dog, "Ye
Ancient Dogge of Malta", the Roman Ladies' Dog, the
Comforter Dog, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, the Shock Dog,
the Maltese Lion Dog and the Maltese Terrier.
The Maltese stands just
10 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs only seven pounds at his
heaviest. His coat is long, straight, silky, white, and falls to the
ground. Daily grooming is necessary. A shorter, pet clip may help reduce
the amount of grooming necessary. The Maltese has soulful dark eyes that
give him an endearing expression.
An alert, animated little dog, the gentle-mannered Maltese makes a good watchdog. He is also affectionate, friendly, and
playful. Principally bred to be a companion, he fits well into the
smallest accommodation. He enjoys being petted and fussed over but he is a
sturdy little dog who enjoys a good romp.
Although he has a reputation for being
good-natured, he may be intolerant of small children or other dogs. He can
be protective of his owner and will bark or may bite if animals or people
infringe on his territory or are perceived as a threat.
The Maltese is intelligent and easy to
train but he can be strong-willed. Training should begin early. He
requires minimal exercise but does enjoy getting outside for a walk.