Known by many different names, the Maltese was originally thought to have come from the islands of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. They were loved by all, from the Greeks to the Egyptians and were used in art as well as being a “comforter” to the sick. Being one of the earliest lap dogs in history, it is no surprise that the Maltese has remained a favorite companion through the years. They have a playful personality and are both trusting and affectionate. Their signature coat, which in show dogs is allowed to grow all the way out to the floor, used to be produced in a number of different colors, but is now always white. The Maltese has dark, intelligent eyes and a white mustache that needs to be cleaned often in order to prevent staining from food and tears. Although these little dogs are great with older children and pets, they can become intimidated and grouchy towards younger children. It is best to be sure that the Maltese is well socialized when they are young so that, when they age, they have that pleasant and gentle-mannered personality that everyone loves.
The Maltese, taken from the breed’s original home in Malta, actually has many different names. While Maltese Terrier is the most common one, a few others are names such as the Melitae dog, Ye ancient Dogge of Malta, Roman Ladies dog, the Comforter, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, and the Maltese Lion Dog. Each of these unique names are perfect at reflecting the interesting and playful personality of the little white dogs. Their long fur and sophisticated manner make it easy to understand why the Maltese would be so popular with the royalty and artists of ancient days. Perhaps the most well-known duty of the Maltese was as a “comforter” to the sick people of Egypt and later, the Europeans. People believed that they had healing properties and would even go so far as to lay the little dog on the pillow of an ill individual. On top of this, the dogs were portrayed in poems, paintings, and ancient artwork. Nowadays, the Maltese are still excellent companion dogs and partake in shows all over the world.
When one sees the Maltese trot across the floor with their long, white, silky fur an image of a graceful cloud may come to mind. When the dogs are shown, they seem to float across the ground with ease. This is due to their gentle manner and very light step. Paired with the fur that touches the ground, the Maltese is heavenly. This breed has bright, black button eyes that shimmer with mischief and fun. A black nose and little black lips poking through a white beard complete the appearance of this breed. Despite the small size of the Maltese, they make up for it in spirit and energy. Males and females do not differ much in size or stature and although this breed used to come in different colors, they are now always white. Because this particular breed does not have a double coat, they do not tend to shed often and are therefore considered hypoallergenic.
In order to keep this breed’s luscious white coat white and free from tangles, frequent bathing and daily brushing is required. The best brushes to use for the Maltese consists of a pin brush and a stainless steel comb. There is no doubt that these dogs are high maintenance. When you brush the coat of your Maltese, you may want to use a gentle conditioner diluted with water to make the process easier and pain free. This will also help to protect the hair from breaking and remain static free in order to achieve a perfect hair placement. Bathe your Maltese once he starts to look dirty or dingy. Before bathing, however, be sure to comb the fur out completely to get rid of any tangles. You may want to use a whitening shampoo to help brighten the fur then followed up by a conditioner that tames long hair. Blow dry the coat completely after drying lightly with a towel. A Maltese that air-dries will not look as pretty. Regular ear cleaning and nail trimming should also be in the routine.