Discovering the Maltese Dog, a Dog With An Ancient History

Maltese dogs are known for their friendly, affectionate, and playful nature

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By Alex

maltese dog

The Maltese dog is one of the oldest dog breeds, known since ancient Roman times as a toy dog for its elegant appearance, proud bearing and keen intelligence.

Let’s find out better through its history, origins and morphological characteristics that make the Maltese dog so special.

Origin and history

The Maltese dog is a small-sized braccoid originating from the Central Mediterranean (but not from the island of Malta, as its name would suggest) and originally used as a hunter of small rodents on ships and in the ports of maritime cities.

The Maltese name, as I anticipated, has nothing to do with Malta, but most likely derives from an ancient Sicilian city called “Melita”. The first traces of its existence were even found in the writings of Aristotle, who in a classification of dogs of the time writes about a small breed of dog called Canes melitenses.

Subsequently, the Maltese established itself as the favorite companion dog of the noblewomen of ancient Rome. The Maltese has therefore lived for thousands of years in the Mediterranean area and more particularly in Italy.

Maltese Dog
The long, snow-white coat of the Maltese dog

Maltese dog: physical characteristics

The Maltese dog is a small dog whose trunk is one third longer than the height at the withers, giving the impression of being narrow and long. The Maltese dog is characterized by its long, white fur, proud gait and elegant appearance. The body is elongated, the head is triangular and the ears hang down.

The dimensions of male specimens generally range from 21 to 25 cm in length and 3-4 kg in weight.

The skull is flat. The eyes are rounded and very dark. The ears, triangular in shape, are set high, hanging and adhering to the sides of the skull.

The head, trunk, tail and limbs are covered with hair that almost looks like silk, very long and very shiny.

The coat is really thick and shiny: its color is pure white or ivory. It runs straight down the body along its entire length without any particular ripple or waviness. The fur is what makes grooming your Maltese truly challenging. It must be brushed frequently and cared for with specific products. The Maltese dog is therefore very beautiful and gentle and has a particular charm: it seems to be aware of being an animal with an ancient and “important” history. However, it is part of that small group of dog breeds that do not shed hair or shed it in very small quantities.

However, in Italy and France it has almost disappeared in recent years, while this breed is very common in the United States, Japan and England.

Health and life expectancy

It is a very robust dog indeed despite its only seemingly fragile and delicate appearance.
The average life expectancy of this dog is about 12/13 years.

The character of the Maltese dog

It is an intelligent, sensitive, playful and sweet dog. Maltese dogs tend to be very affectionate to their owner.

The Maltese has a docile but far too indolent and lazy character. Itmust be adequately encouraged to avoid seeing it laze around all day.

This is a perfect companion dog, extremely suitable for family life: just remember that it becomes very attached to the family and continually seeks physical contact with its owner.

Maltese dog
The Maltese dog is one of the most beloved breeds

However, it is a very lively and very intelligent dog, proud and often sensitive. The Maltese loves to play even when he gets bigger and is a great companion for children who love dogs.

It is a real companion dog, but being very courageous and barking very loudly at intruders, it can also be used as a guard dog for your apartment.

Education and training

This dog is very lively when actively involved in recreational activities or in the simple daily life of the family. The Maltese dog demonstrates an extraordinary learning ability that makes it very suitable for doing agility.

The Maltese dog adapts well to proximity with older children, less so with very young children as it will tend to suffer from their constant attention.

Maltese Dog
The Maltese dog likes to be outside a lot…

Despite its sometimes lazy nature and appearance, it needs to engage in intense daily physical activity outdoors, frequent grooming and continuous vaccinations.

Maltese dog: breedings and pedigrees

If you buy a dog from a kennel, the presence of certain documents will give you a measure of the seller’s seriousness.

You must always obtain from the person who sells you the puppy, which will be ready to come to live with you only after the 60th day of age, some documents: a microchip, the health booklet where the vaccines against viral diseases and the parasitic treatments carried out must be reported. In addition, there must be a contract of sale, in which is written a guarantee of the good health of the puppy and its parents. .

There are several breeders of this particular breed and you can find nice specimens at various breeders, be wary instead of those who want to sell you a puppy, or worse give it away, on eBay various ad sites, they are often stolen or without pedigree.

They must be known breeders and holders of affixes issued by the breeding recognized by the local dog boards.

The price

The average price of a Maltese hardly ever falls below 1,000 dollars, if purchased from a serious breeding and clearly able to certify its pedigree.

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