1. Key Breed Facts
2. Breed Characteristics
7. Intelligence / Trainability
8. Children and Other Pets
10. Caring for a Maltese
14. Average Cost to keep/care for a Maltese
These little white dogs hail from Malta where they were highly prized for their charming looks and independent natures. Over the years they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people other than in their native Malta and for good reason. The Maltese is a charming character and one that is extremely loyal and affectionate. Despite their small stature, the Maltese is a larger than life character that’s a real pleasure to share a home with.
The Maltese is thought to be among the most ancient of breeds on the planet with records of them being found dating back 8000 years. Although the ancient Greeks and Romans thought the dog originated on the Island of Malta, there is no real evidence to prove this is true. However, there are those who believe the breed is a descendant of a Spitz-type dog that was bred by people who lived in Central Europe. Because Malta boasts a central trading location, the breed found their way to other parts of the world including as far afield as China and South East Asia where they were sold to nobles and royals by traders arriving by sea in their lands.
By the mid-1800s and early 1900s, breeders here in the UK thought the Maltese should belong to the Terrier group all thanks to their fearless and courageous natures. This together with the fact, the Maltese was a highly skilled ratter, reminded many of a terrier-type dog. However, not everyone agreed and so the Maltese was simply referred to as a "Maltese Dog" from there onwards.
Between 1859 and 1873, there were twenty-four Maltese dogs registered in The Kennel Club stud book. It was a time when Lady Giffard who was a huge fan of the breed, promoted these pure white dogs that boasted such silky coats and kind natures to other interested parties. Maltese dogs can be seen in many paintings and this includes of royalty with Queen Elizabeth I as well as Queen Victoria having been painted with their loyal white companions. They were painted by illustrious masters like Goya and Joshua Reynolds and it is thought Mary Queen of Scots owned one of these charming little dogs too.
The Duchess of Kent commissioned Sir Edwin Landseer to paint her little dog called "Quiz" and then commissioned the artist to paint another of her Maltese dogs called Lambkin. Over the years, these lovely looking little white dogs have become a firm and popular favourite with many people, not only here in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too.
Height at withers: Males 20 - 25 cm, Females 20 - 22 cm
Average weight: Males 1.4 - 3.6 kg, Females 1 - 3 kg
Maltese Dogs boast a superb pure white coat with some dogs having a lemon or orange tinge in them. Their hair is long and luxurious which means they are quite high maintenance in the grooming department. They don't have an undercoat so they don’t shed as much as many other breeds making them a good choice for people who suffer from allergies although it is more the dander than hair that causes the allergy problem.
Maltese dogs remain very puppy-like in their looks for most of their lives which is another reason why these dogs are so endearing and popular with people throughout the world. Their heads are rounded without being domed and they boast a well-defined stop with a broad muzzle and striking black nose. Eyes are oval in shape and dark brown in colour with black rims which adds to their sweet appeal.
The Maltese has long, feathered ears that hang close to the head so the hair on them blends in with a dog's coat at the shoulder. They have strong jaws with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. They have short, straight legs and well sloped shoulders adding to their well-balanced appearance. In a nutshell, these dogs have short and compact bodies, well sprung rib cages and nice level backs from their withers right to their tails.
The Maltese has short, well angulated back legs and their feet are round with black paw pads. Their tails are nicely feathered and dogs carry them arched over their backs. When it comes to colour, as previously mentioned these little dogs boast having pure white coats with some dogs having a little lemon or orange tinge in them which is perfectly acceptable as a breed standard.
Maltese Dogs are very alert and intelligent characters that boast sweet, fun-loving natures. They are lively and yet very affectionate because they thrive on getting as much attention from people as possible. Even as a Maltese gets older, their energy levels remain high which means these little dogs remain lively and playful right through to their golden years. They are quite independent spirits too which is yet another reason why the Maltese has consistently been a popular choice as a family pet and companion dog here in the UK and throughout the world.
These little dogs crave human company and they really do not like to be left on their own even for shorter lengths of time. They suffer from separation anxiety which can result in dogs developing unwanted behavioural problems including howling, barking, chewing on furniture and scratching at doors and floors. They are the ideal choice for people who work from home or who spend a lot of time in the house, but the Maltese is not a good choice for people who are rarely at home because it would make for a very unhappy dog.
Maltese are intelligent little dogs and they adore being around people. Because they are always eager and willing to please, these little dogs are easy to train. The problem is that because they are so cute and smart, they like to test the limits and boundaries to see how much they can get away with.
Their training needs to start early and Maltese puppies have to be wel socialised from a young age for them to be truly well rounded dogs. The key to successfully training a Maltese is to always be consistent and to set boundaries and to always handle these clever little dogs with a firm, yet gentle hand.
Maltese Dogs can be "snappy" around smaller children and toddlers which means any interaction between dogs and the kids has to be well supervised by an adult at all times. However, when a Maltese grows up with kids and other pets, they are a lot more tolerant of them. With this said, any introductions to new pets and children has to be done carefully so that things remain nice and calm. It’s best not to leave a Maltese alone with any small pets even if they have grown up together.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Maltese is between 12 to 15 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality, well balanced diet to suit their ages.
Maltese Dogs are known to be healthy little dogs and unlike many other pure breeds, they don't seem to be affected by common illnesses that plague other dogs. However, any health issues reported to the Breeders Association were minor and therefore do not merit a lot of concern. They do, however, seem to suffer from a condition known as "reverse sneezing" which sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Dogs appear to be choking, but they recover quickly so there is usually no cause to worry or seek veterinary treatment when a Maltese has a bout of reverse sneezing.
As with any other breed, a Maltese needs to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in tip-top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, they need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
Maltese Dogs shed very little which means they are easy maintenance when it comes to grooming and keeping their coats looking smart. However, it does pay to take them along to be professionally groomed from time to time. They do also tend to get tear stains under their eyes which are more noticeable due to their white coats and although unsightly, this does not pose any sort of health issue. Cleaning tear stains can be done using a clean, damp cloth being careful not to hurt a dog's eyes in the process.
These dogs may be small in stature, but they are lively, energetic characters and therefore need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-balanced characters. It’s important for these little dogs to burn off any excess calories otherwise they may put on too much weight which can negatively impact their overall health and well-being.
If you have decided to get a puppy from a breeder, they would provide you with a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to it for the first few weeks after bringing a puppy home. You can change their diet when the time is right, but this needs to be done very gradually and carefully over a few weeks to make sure puppies don't suffer any tummy upsets. Puppies do a lot of growing during the first couple of years of their lives which in short, means it's crucial for them to be fed a high quality diet when they are young.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy or finicky eaters, but this does not mean you can feed them a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature Maltese Dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories which is important or they might start to gain too much weight.
If you are looking to buy a Maltese, you would need to pay anything from £600 to over £2000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a 3-year-old Maltese in northern England would be £20.27 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.22 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not a dog has been neutered or spayed.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Maltese and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Maltese would be between £60 to £100 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Maltese puppy.
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