The Maltese has a colourful yet unconfirmed history and has played an important companion role throughout the world. Fondly described as the ‘lady’s jewel’, the Maltese was a pet of the noble ladies of ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome who used to carry them around in their sleeves!
As the name suggests, this breed has also been linked with the Mediterranean island of Malta, where it was a much prized companion pet. In the early 19th century the breed was established in its modern form and was shown at some of the earliest dog shows including the 1877 Westminster Show in North America.
Temperament and Appearance
Although the Maltese, with a glamorous white cloak of long silky hair and shiny black nose, is usually thought of in terms of plush cushions and luxurious surroundings, they are in fact fearless and filled with spunky determination. They have a sweet, loving yet mischievous temperament, and are very much the individualist. The fact that for so many centuries, the Maltese was indulged as the household pet of the wealthy and cultured, may to some extent explain for their own refinement, cleanliness and fastidiousness. When it comes to family time, they are very affectionate, dedicated family members who will love nothing more than to follow you from room to room throughout the day. In saying this, they often do not take quickly to strangers and, despite being small in stature the Maltese make a splendid little watchdog.
Grooming and care
When it comes to grooming, the Maltese is a high maintenance companion. Daily brushing and regular bathing is a vital part of routine care. If daily brushing is not an option then regular clipping will help to prevent matting and make coat maintenance more manageable. Regular ear and eye checks are essential and cleaning will help to prevent the staining sometimes seen on their beautiful white faces.
Whilst Maltese don’t need a lot of space and make perfect apartment companions, don’t be fooled this little one still needs regular exercise to keep the waist line trim. Maltese enjoy a daily walk and outing.
For the latest research in breed-related problems in Maltese visit the University of Sydney’s LIDA (Listing of Inherited Disorders in Animals) website.