- Maltese probably originated in Asia in ancient times, and eventually made their way to Europe and then to the Isle of Malta, perhaps used as exotic items of barter by traders.
- Aristotle mentioned a tiny dog he referred to as a Canis Melitae (the name for Malta in those times), and drawings on Greek and Roman pottery show small long-haired dogs of general Maltese type.
- Early Maltese came in a variety of colors.
- The first Maltese came to England during the reign of Henry VIII.
- By the mid 1800s they were favorite lap dogs of the upper class, and they were one of the earliest breeds exhibited in dog shows. They were called Maltese Terriers at the time.
- The first Maltese came to America in the late 1800s. They were initially exhibited in America as Maltese Lion Dogs. AKC recognized them as Maltese in 1888.
- The Maltese remained fairly unknown until its numbers started rising slowly in the 1950s. It reached the list of 15 most popular breeds in the 1990s. It remains in the top 20.
Maltese Behavior Concerns
- Makes both an affectionate lap dog and exuberant playmate.
- Playful and good with children, but children must be supervised because they could easily hurt such a small dog.
- Reserved toward strangers.
- Good with other dogs and pets, although it may foolishly challenge larger dogs.
- Tends to be bold and curious.
- Some bark a lot.
- Learns quickly, but tends to have a stubborn streak.
- Does best with reward-based training involving food or games.
Maltese Suggested Exercises
- Makes a lively and alert housedog.
- Although many of its physical exercise needs can be met with indoor or backyard games, it still needs the mental stimulation of going for walks.
- A walk around the block once or twice daily will meet its outdoor needs, not counting bathroom breaks.
- Many Maltese can be trained to use indoor potty systems.
- Dog parks are not generally a good idea unless only small dogs are allowed together.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
- Despite their long coat, most Maltese do not tolerate cold weather well because of their lack of undercoat and small size.
- Coat is long, flat and silky.
- Combing every day or two is needed to prevent matts.
- Many owners elect to have their dogs professionally groomed, often clipping them in easily maintained styles.
- Hair must be kept out of eyes to avoid irritation.
- The hair around the anus must be checked daily for hygiene issues.
- Shedding is below average.
- The breed is prone to periodontal problems, which can be prevented in large part by regular tooth brushing.
Suggested Maltese Nutritional Needs
- Maltese tend to stay in good weight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Remember, it does not take much food to feed a small dog, and small snacks can easily add too many calories.
- Maltese puppies should be fed often to prevent hypoglycemia, a serious condition to which very small puppies are prone. Frequent small meals of high protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates may help guard against this condition.