Maltese (dog) facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Mighty Maltese

The Maltese is a small dog that originated around the Mediterranean. Phoenician traders may have brought precursors of this dog from Ancient Egypt. The tomb of Ramesses II contains statuettes of dogs, which resemble the Maltese. The name of the dog may be due to the island Mljet, near Dubrovnik. Maltese dogs are small, up to about 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in length, and 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) in weight.

Description

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.

Emily Maltese
Maltese puppy
Maltese dog makes new friend (6225569997)
Maltese dog behavior

Appearance

Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome, a black button nose and brown eyes. They usually grow up to be about 7-10 inches tall. The body is compact with the length equaling the height and the tail is almost always curled. The drop ears with (sometimes) long hair, and surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a "halo"), gives Maltese their expressive look. Lacking exposure to a lot sunlight, their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color. This is often referred to as a "winter nose" and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun. The Maltese's paws are very sensitive to touch.

Coat and color

The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. Some Maltese can have curly hair (especially behind their ears), but this is considered a fault. The colour of the coat is pure white. A pale ivory tinge is permitted on the ears. In some standards, a pure white coat with slight lemon markings is tolerated.

The Maltese does not shed, and is therefore a good choice for people with dog allergies. Some people prefer their dogs to have the coat short. The most common cut for the Maltese is called "the puppy cut," which involves trimming or shaving the entire body (skirt, legs/paws, chest, and head fur) to one short length (typically less than an inch long).

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Maltese dog groomed with overcoat

Size

Adult Maltese range from roughly 3 to 10 lb (1.4 to 4.5 kg), though breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 5-8 lbs. There are variations depending on which standard is being used. The American Kennel Club calls for a weight between 4 to 7 lb (1.8 to 3.2 kg), with 4 to 6 lb (1.8 to 2.7 kg) preferred, while the FCI standard popular in Europe prefers a heavier Maltese between 3 to 4 kg (6.6 to 8.8 lb). They stand normally 7 to 12 in (18 to 30 cm).

Gait

As per the AKC standard: The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth, flowing gait. Viewed from the side, they give an impression of rapid movement, size considered. In the stride, the forelegs reach straight and free from the shoulders, with elbows close. Hind legs to move in a straight line. Cowhocks or any suggestion of hind leg toeing in or out are faults.

Temperament

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A toy Spaniel, a dwarf Spitz and a Maltese next to a basket (1855) by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Wegener [de].

Maltese are bred to be companion dogs. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, its 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. They also adore humans, and prefer to stay near them. The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason, the breed also fares well in apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers. Some Maltese may suffer from separation anxiety.

An Australia-wide (not including Tasmania) research project carried out in conjunction with RSPCA found owners likely to dump their Maltese, citing the tendency of Maltese to bark constantly. This breed is Australia's most dumped dog. In addition, figures released in 2010 by the Korean National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service show that some 1,208 Maltese were abandoned between January and August 2010, making it the most abandoned breed in Seoul, South Korea.

Care

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A long-haired Maltese groomed for an appearance in a conformation show
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Maltese showing its teeth

Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives, the Poodles and Bichon Frisé, 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. Many owners find that a weekly bath is sufficient for keeping the coat clean, although it is recommended to not wash a dog so often, so washing every three weeks is sufficient, although if the dog keeps clean even longer than that. They need to be professionally groomed about once every month and a half.

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 in (2.5–5 cm) 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. Some Maltese need to be blow-dried in order to prevent mats because drying is ineffective to some dogs.

Maltese dogs can exhibit signs of tear staining underneath the eyes. 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. To get rid of tear staining, a solution or powder can be specially made for tear stains, which can often be found in local pet stores. A fine-toothed metal pet comb, moistened with hot water and applied perhaps twice weekly, also works extremely well.

Lucy McElhiney
Maltese Dog showing tear staining.

The antibiotic Cephalexin has been shown to completely clear up "tear staining" in some cases. Maltese are susceptible to "reverse sneezing", which sounds like a honking, snorting or gagging sound and results often from over-excitement, play, allergies, or upon waking up. It is not life-threatening or dangerous—it will go away after about a minute.

Intellect

They are ranked 59th out of 79 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs, which indexes obedience and the ability of a dog breed to follow commands, with very light focus on skills seen outside of working breeds, such as emotional intelligence.

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Maltese (dog) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.