A Maltese is a small breed of domestic dog that has a reputation for being delicate and sophisticated. Although the exact origin of the breed is disputable, it is reputedly one of the oldest breeds known to man.
The earliest Maltese were believed to be used to control rat populations on ships and other areas where rat infestations were an issue. However, over time, because of their, flowing, silky white coat and petite body, people began treating these dogs as pampered pets instead of working canines.
Maltese regularly live 13 to 16 years but can live longer with proper care from their owners. Proper care includes regular vet visits for vaccinations and preventative care, regular grooming, proper diet and regular exercise in the form of walks and play. Careful attention should also be given to the Maltese’s dental hygiene because lack of proper dental care could lead to major oral health issues down the road, such as tooth loss.
A Maltese usually ranges between four to nine pounds with six pounds being the average and more desirable weight. The male Maltese generally stands between eight to ten inches, while the females usually range eight to nine inches. They move with a smooth, seemingly flowing, gait; especially when their coat is allowed to grow to floor length. Growing the Maltese’s coat to such a length requires a lot of effort on the owner’s part and can be quite time-consuming but can also offer a great bonding experience.
Properly grooming a Maltese’s coat generally takes about ten minutes a day. They are a single coat breed, which means that they do not have the thick undercoat that most breeds have. This fact makes the Maltese a great choice for people who suffer from allergies. They also shed very little compared to other breeds, especially when they are groomed regularly. Regular grooming also prevents matting, which generally tends to be a problem with the Maltese’s coat.
Another issue with the Maltese’s coat is tear stain, which is a reddish-brown color left on the coat when it gets wet in the same spot repeatedly. This can occur from eye drainage or when the dog is drinking water. However, using bottled or distilled water can help with this problem. There are also products sold in most pet stores that can help with this issue, returning the Maltese to its beautiful, fluffy, bright white appearance.
In addition to being beautiful dogs, Maltese are also known for being very loyal companions. Maltese generally form a very strong bond with their owners. By and large, the Maltese of today is not a yard dog. It usually do not like being left alone outdoors for an extended period of time. In general, the Maltese requires human companionship and likes to spend a great deal of time with their owners.
Leaving a Maltese alone for extended periods could lead to separation anxiety, which could mean the destruction of property, excessive barking or soiling the carpet. For this reason, this breed may require doggy daycare. Maltese generally do well with other dog breeds and even most cats. However, they are known to “forget” their small size so they must be monitored around larger breeds. Yet, it must be stated that the Maltese do not mindlessly place themselves in danger. They are very intelligent and are known to be excellent show dogs because they usually perform well in obedience and performance events.
It does not matter whether the Maltese is a show dog or family member (or both), they can offer many years of great companionship and devotion.