photo of a Maltese Terrier

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Small Dog Breeds

Information About The Maltese Dog Breed


The Maltese (also known as Maltese Terrier) has a compact and petite body with a long silky coat. He is a gentle, refined, and sweet-natured breed that is good-tempered and makes a great family pet. Although he is normally quiet and sensitive, he gets along exceptionally well with children and generally remains playful throughout his long life. He is usually healthy and adaptable about exercise. This breed may be initially reserved with strangers. Although he is intelligent, his sensitive nature requires a slow and patient training and should never be treated in an overbearing manner. Socialization is very important from puppy hood in order for him to develop confidence. He may be difficult to housebreak and may be a picky eater. This breed is also sensitive to extremes in temperature.

Size: The Maltese stands between 7-8in at the shoulder and weighs about 4-6lb.

History and origin: This breed is described as the oldest of the European toy breeds. There is a controversy as to whether the Maltese originated in Malta, although he has certainly existed there for centuries. He was kept as a companion by the ancient Greeks, Romans, and also the Phoenicians who settled the island of Malta in 1500 B.C. He has eventually found his way to China and the Philippines, probably due to enterprising Maltese traders. Similar to the Papillon, the Maltese has been depicted by many famous artists, including Goya and Rubens. He was also depicted by the famous animal painter Sir Edwin Landseer, who in 1930 produced a portrait entitled "The Lion Dog from Malta - the last of his race" which shows the dog's rarity on the island at that time. The breed first became established in the United Kingdom during the reign of Henry VIII and was a popular pet among elegant ladies. The Maltese gained popularity in the 1800s in both the United States as well as the United Kingdom.

Feeding: Required feeding for this breed is 1/3 can (13.3oz size) of high quality meat product with equal amount of biscuit or 1-1 ½ cups of complete dry food. Lightly-cooked minced beef mixed with biscuit is also ideal.

Exercise: An apartment is fine for this small and quiet breed, although he requires regular walks or a game of ball in order to get a sufficient amount of exercise.

Grooming: His long, silky coat sheds and must be brushed and combed everyday from puppy hood with a bristle brush. The coat is absorbent and must be kept dry to prevent matting. Many owners keep the coat in a short clip to reduce the amount of maintenance. Apply baby powder on his legs and along underside to keep him fresh and clean between baths.

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