Maltese are toy-sized dogs covered in long, silky white (or cream-colored) hair. They have medium-sized heads with rounded skulls, hanging ears, tapered muzzles and dark noses and eyes. Maltese carry their heads high on their long necks, and their plumed tails carry over their backs. This gives them a distinguished, aristocratic look. Since their hair hangs so low and their gait is so smooth, Maltese seem to float across the floor.
Beloved companions to princes and princesses for well over 2,000 years, Maltese know how to behave: They are gentle, loving, obedient and well-mannered creatures that love attention and affection and know how to return to favor. However, Maltese have a fearless energy that makes them slightly more of a handful than your typical, docile lapdog. They love to run around in the yard, play chase and hop around in mud puddles. But, when playtime is over, they are superb cuddlers.
Maltese are perfect for city-dwellers. They are quiet, gentle, polite and happy with daily 20-30 minute walks. In fact, some Maltese even prefer small spaces (and small yards) to large ones. Great with children, especially older ones, Maltese are confident around other dogs without being overconfident—their fearlessness tends to make them self-assured rather than defensive.
Though a Maltese looks like a pet that needs pampering, they are actually quite sturdy and secure. Besides, too much pampering could make them irritable. Give them lots of love and attention and they will always respond in kind.
Maltese get along famously with children, but make sure children respect their space and play with them properly. Known for their good manners, Maltese demand a certain amount of respect and good treatment.
As you can tell by looking at them, Maltese need daily grooming. Their coat is silky and very soft, so brush with care. They do not shed too much, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers. Also remember to clean their eyes, ears and beards regularly.
Maltese can live as long as 18 years. Generally healthy, they can suffer from dental problems. Dog toys and biscuits that promote dental health can help keep their teeth strong and clean.
One of the world’s oldest breeds, Maltese have been beloved companions for nearly 3,000 years. Roman poets wrote about them and Greeks had special tombs built for them. For centuries they have pranced around palaces, frolicked in royal gardens and strolled through stately homes. Maltese made their American debut in Westminster’s first show in 1877. One year later the AKC registered the breed. To this day, they remain a popular show dog and pet.