Maltese lapdog or Maltese (English Maltese) is a small dog native to the Mediterranean. This is one of the oldest breeds known to man, especially among European dogs.
- They have a good character, but they are difficult to accustom to the toilet.
- Despite the long coat, they do not like cold and easily freeze.
- Due to its miniature and fragility, it is not recommended to keep maltese in families with small children.
- Get along well with other dogs and cats, but can be jealous.
- They adore people and are usually attached to one person.
- Purebred Maltese lapdogs live long, up to 18 years!
The Maltese lapdog was born long before the stud books appeared, moreover, long before the spread of writing. Therefore, we know little about its origin and are only constructing theories.
It is believed that she appeared on one of the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, but on which and when, remains the subject of controversy.
Traditionally, cynologists put maltese in a group of Bichons, they are sometimes called Bichons. The word Bichon comes from an archaic French word meaning a small, long-haired dog.
Dogs in this group are related. These are: Bolognese, Havanese, Coton de Tulear, French lapdog, probably Maltese and a small lion dog.
It is believed that modern Bichons come from the extinct Bichon Tenerife, a dog that lived in the Canary Islands.
Recent archaeological and historical finds disprove the relationship of the Maltese lap dog with these dogs. If they are relatives, they are more likely to have come from maltese, since it is hundreds of years older than the Bichons.
To date, there are three main theories about the origin of the breed. Since no one provides convincing evidence, the truth is somewhere in between. According to one theory, the ancestors of Maltese come from Tibet or China, and it comes from the Tibetan Terrier or Pekingese.
Along the Silk Road, these dogs hit the Mediterranean. It is not in favor of this theory that although the dogs are similar to some Asian decorative dogs, she has those brachycephalic structures of the skull.
In addition, trade routes from Asia were not yet mastered at the time the breed was created, and dogs were hardly a valuable commodity. Proponents say that the breed was brought in by Phoenician and Greek merchants, spreading among the islands in the central Mediterranean Sea.
According to another theory, the inhabitants of prehistoric Switzerland kept Spitz-like dogs that preyed on rodents at a time when Europe did not know cats yet.
From there, they hit the Italian coast. Greek, Phoenician, Italian merchants distributed them throughout the islands. This theory seems most true, since maltese is most similar to Spitz than to other groups of dogs. In addition, Switzerland is much closer in distance than Tibet.
According to the latest theory, they came from ancient spaniels and poodles that lived on the islands. The most unlikely of theories, if not impossible. It is likely that the Maltese lapdog appeared much earlier than these breeds, although there is no data on their origin.
One likely theory is that these dogs didn’t come from somewhere, they appeared by breeding from local breeds of dogs, such as the Pharaoh’s dog and the Sicilian greyhound or Cirneco del Etna.
It is not known where it came from, but what finally formed on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea is a fact.
Various researchers considered different islands to be her homeland, but most likely there were several. The oldest source mentioning this breed dates back to 500 BC.
The Greek amphora made in Athens depicts dogs incredibly similar to modern Maltese. This image is accompanied by the word "Melitaie", indicating either the name of the dog, or the name of the breed. This amphora was discovered in the Italian city of Vulci. So, they knew about the Maltese lapdogs 2,500 years ago.
Around 370 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle mentions the breed under her Greek name - Melitaei Catelli. He describes dogs in detail, comparing them with martens. The name Melitaei Catelli is also found 20 years later, in the writings of the Greek writer Callimachus of Cyrene.
Other descriptions and images of Maltese lapdogs are found in various works of Greek scholars, which suggests that they were known and loved in Greece in pre-Roman times.
It is possible that the Greek conquerors and mercenaries brought Maltese to Egypt, as finds from this country indicate that it was one of those breeds worshiped by the ancient Egyptians.
Even in ancient times, the origin of the breed did not cease disputes. In the first century, the writer Pliny the Elder (one of the brightest naturalists of that time), says that Canis Melitaeus (the name of the Maltese lapuna in Latin) is named after her homeland, the island of Mljet.
Another Greek, Strabo, who lived at the same time, claims to be named after the island of Malta. Thousands of years later, the English doctor and dog handler John Caius will translate the Greek name of the breed as "dog from Malta", since Melita is the ancient name of the island. And we will know the breed as a Maltese lap-dog or Maltese.
In 1570 he writes:
These are small dogs, which are mainly used for entertainment and fun for women. The smaller it is, the more appreciated; because they can wear it in the bosom, take it with them to bed or hold it in their arms while riding.
It is known that these dogs were very popular among Greeks and Romans. Together with the Italian Greyhound, Maltese becomes the most popular dog among the matrons of ancient Rome. They are so popular that they are called the dog of the Romans.
Strabo describes why they preferred maltese to other breeds. Roman women wore these dogs in the sleeves of their togas and clothes, roughly the way the Chinese women of the 18th century did.
Moreover, influential Romans also loved them. Roman poet Marcus Valerius Martial composed many poems about a dog named Issa, belonging to his friend Publius. At least to one emperor - Claudius, they belonged precisely and more than likely to others too. The main purpose of the content was entertainment, but perhaps they hunted rats.
The Romans spread the fashion to these dogs throughout the empire: France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and possibly the Canary Islands. After the fall of the empire, some of these dogs developed into independent breeds. It is more than likely that it was the Maltese lapdog that became the ancestor of the Bichon.
Since the Maltese lapdogs were companions of nobles throughout Europe, they were able to survive the Middle Ages. Fashion for them grew and fell, but in Spain, France and Italy they were always held in high esteem.
The Spaniards began to take them with them during the capture of the New World, and it was they who became the ancestors for such breeds as Havanese and Coton de Tulear. This breed has appeared in numerous works of literature and art over the centuries, although not to the same extent as some similar breeds.
Since size and wool were the most important part of the breed, breeders focused on improving them. They wanted to create a dog that had a beautiful coat and that was small in size. Until the beginning of the 20th century, only white was valued, but today there are other colors.
Breeders also worked on developing the dog with the best character, and created a very gentle and worthy dog.
For a long time it was believed that the Maltese lapdog was intended only for entertainment and for nothing more, but this is not so. In those days, the companions of people were insects, fleas and lice.
It was believed that dogs distract this infection, thereby preventing the spread of disease. However, the same belief is due to the appearance of a wig and many other things.
It is likely that earlier they also killed rats and mice, another source of infection. In addition, it is well known that Maltese warmed their masters in that era when there was no central heating.
The first Maltese lapdogs arrived in England during the reign of King Henry VIII, between 1509 and 1547. They quickly became fashionable, especially during the reign of Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII.
It was these days that Calvus described their origin and the love of influential ladies for them. History describes that in 1588, the Spanish hidalgo brought with them a lot of lapdogs to entertain while traveling with the Invincible Armada.
After the defeat, many ships landed off the coast of Scotland and several Maltese lapdogs allegedly hit the shore and became the ancestors of the skiterrier. But this story is doubtful, since the first mention of skaters was found almost a hundred years earlier.
At the beginning of the XVII century, these dogs became one of the most popular animals among the aristocrats of England. In the 18th century, popularity was growing due to the appearance of the first dog shows in Europe. Aristocrats tried to show off the best representatives of different breeds of dogs, and one of the most popular then was maltese.
In addition to beauty and elegance, they also bred without problems, while maintaining their pedigree. Breeders quickly realized that in the show ring they look great, which gave a huge interest in the breed.
It is not clear when the first Maltese lap-dog appeared in America, as well as where it came from. However, by 1870 it was already a well-known breed. And if in Europe there were pure white dogs, then in America with shades and motley, even the first registered lapdog was with black ears.
At the American Kennel Club (AKC), it was recognized back in 1888 and the breed had a standard. By the end of the century, all colors except white are out of fashion, and in 1913 most clubs will disqualify other colors.
However, they remain quite rare dogs. In 1906, the Maltese Terrier Club of America was created, which later became the National Maltese Club, since the terrier prefix will be removed from the breed name.
In 1948, the United Kennel Club (UKC) recognized the breed. The popularity of Maltese lapdogs is growing steadily until the 1990s. They are among the 15 most popular breeds in the United States; more than 12,000 dogs are registered annually.
Since 1990, they begin to go out of fashion, for several reasons. Firstly, many dogs with a bad pedigree, and secondly, simply went out of fashion. Despite the fact that the Maltese lapdog has somewhat lost popularity in the world and Russia, it is still a well-known and desired breed. In the USA, they occupy 22nd place in popularity among 167 registered breeds.
If you are asked to describe the Maltese, then three qualities will come to mind: small, white, fluffy. Being one of the oldest purebred breeds in the world, the Maltese lapdog is also not distinguished by a variety of appearance. Like all indoor and decorative dogs, she is very small.
The AKC standard is less than 7 pounds, ideally 4 to 6 pounds or 1.8 to 2.7 kg. The UKC standard is a little more, from 6 to 8 pounds. International Kennel Federation (F.C.I.) Standard 3 to 4 kg.
Height at the withers for males: from 21 to 25 cm; for bitches: from 20 to 23 cm.
Most of the body is hidden under the hair, but it is a proportional dog. The ideal Maltese lap-dog of square type is the same in length with height. It may seem fragile, but this is because it is small.
The tail is of medium length, set high and forms an arc, so that its tip touches the croup.
Most of the face is hidden under thick hair, which closes the view, if not trimmed. The head of the dog is proportional to the body, ending in a muzzle of medium length.
Maltese should have black lips and a completely black nose. The eyes are dark brown or black, roundish, medium size. The ears are triangular in shape, fit snugly to the head.
When they say about this dog that it consists entirely of wool, they joke only partially. The Maltese lapdog has no undercoat, only the upper shirt.
The coat is very soft, silky and smooth. Maltese has the smoothest coat of all similar breeds and should not have a hint of waviness.
Curly and shaggy are allowed only on the front legs. The coat is very long; if it is not trimmed, it almost touches the ground. It is almost the same length throughout the body and shimmers during the movement of the dog.
Only one color is allowed - white, only the palest shade of ivory is allowed, but it is undesirable.
It is difficult to describe the character of the Maltese lapdog, as commercial breeding has created many dogs of poor quality and unstable temperament. They can be shy, timid, or aggressive.
Most of these dogs are incredibly noisy. However, those dogs that are raised in good kennels are distinguished by an excellent and predictable character.
This is a companion dog from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. They are very fond of people, even sticky, they love to be kissed. They love attention and lie next to their beloved master, and preferably on it. The flip side of such love is that the Maltese lapdogs suffer without communication, if left alone for a long time. If you disappear for a long time at work, it is better to choose a different breed. This dog is attached to one owner and forms a very close relationship with him.
However, in relation to other family members they have no detachment, although they love them a little less.
Even purebred dogs, of good breeding, may differ in their relation to strangers. Most socialized and trained maltese are friendly and polite, although they don’t really trust them. But others can be very nervous, shy.
In general, they do not quickly make new friends, but they do not get used to them for very long.
They usually bark at the sight of strangers, which can annoy others, but makes them great calls. By the way, they are very gentle and great for the elderly.
But for families with small children, they are worse. The small size makes them vulnerable and even neat children can inadvertently cause injury. In addition, they do not like rudeness when they are dragged by the hair. Some timid maltese may be afraid of children.
Frankly speaking, if we talk about other indoor and decorative dogs, then in relation to children they are not the worst option.
Moreover, they get along well with older children, you need to look after only very small ones. Like any dog, if you need to protect yourself, a Maltese lapdog can bite, but only as a last resort.
They try to escape, resorting to force only if there is no other way. They are not as biting as most terriers, but more biting than a beagle, for example.
Maltese get along well with other animals, including dogs, even prefer their company. Only a few of them are aggressive or dominant. The biggest problem that is possible is jealousy. Bolonki do not want to share attention with anyone.
But they enjoy spending time with other dogs when the owner is not at home. The company does not let them get bored. Maltese are quite happy if they are accompanied by dogs of a similar size and character.
If people are at home, they will prefer their company. But they should be introduced to large dogs with caution, since they can easily injure or kill a lapdog.
Although it is believed that the Maltese lapdog was originally a rat-catcher, there is very little left of this instinct. Most of them get along well with other animals, including cats. Moreover, puppies and some small maltese are themselves at risk, as cats can perceive them as a slow and strange rat.
This is a very trained breed, considered the smartest among indoor decorative dogs, and the most responsive.They perform well in disciplines such as obedience and agility. They easily teach teams, and for a treat they will do everything.
Able to learn any team and cope with any feasible task, except that with the specific they can not, due to size. However, they are sensitive and react extremely poorly to rudeness, screaming, and strength.
The dark side of such talents is the ability to find yourself in trouble on their own. Curiosity and mind often lead them to where the other dog would not have thought of reaching. And they are also able to find food where even the owner has already forgotten about it.
There are two points in training that require additional attention. Some Maltese are very nervous with strangers and additional efforts are needed to socialize them. But, they are small compared to toilet training. Trainers say that in this matter they are among the 10 most difficult to train breeds.
They have a small bladder that simply cannot hold a large volume of urine. In addition, they can do business in nooks: under sofas, behind furniture, in corners. This goes unnoticed and not adjusted.
And they don’t like wet weather, rain or snow. To accustom them to the toilet you need to spend more time than with other breeds. Some owners resort to using the tray.
This little dog is quite active at home and is able to entertain itself. This means that they have enough of a daily walk outside of him. However, they love to run without a leash and show unexpected agility. If you let her go in the courtyard of a private house, you must be sure of the reliability of the fence.
This dog is smart enough to find the slightest opportunity to leave the yard and small to climb anywhere.
Despite the low requirements for activity, it is extremely important for the owners to satisfy them. Behavioral problems develop primarily due to boredom and lack of entertainment.
A feature that every owner of a Maltese lap-dog should know about is barking. Even the most calm and well-bred dogs bark more than other breeds, and what can we say about others. Moreover, their barking is loud and loud, can annoy others.
If it annoys you, then think about another breed, as you will have to hear it often. Although in everything else it is an ideal dog for living in an apartment.
Like all decorative dogs, the Maltese lapdog may have a small dog syndrome.
The syndrome of a small dog manifests itself in those maltese with whom the owners behave differently than they would with a large dog. They do not correct behavior incorrectly for a variety of reasons, most of which are perceptual. They find it funny when a kilogram maltese growls and bites, but it is dangerous if the bull terrier does the same.
That is why most lapdogs break off the leash and throw themselves at other dogs, while very few bull terriers do the same. Dogs with small dog syndrome become aggressive, dominate, and generally uncontrolled.
Fortunately, problems can easily be avoided by treating a decorative dog in the same way as a guard or fighting dog.
It’s enough to see a lapdog once to understand that its coat requires care. She needs to be combed daily, but carefully so as not to hurt the dog. They have no undercoat, and with good care they hardly fade.
Like related species, Bichon Frize or poodle, they are considered hypoallergenic. In people who are allergic to other dogs, it may not show up on a Maltese lap-dog.
Some owners wash the dog weekly, but this amount is excessive. It is enough to bathe her every three weeks, especially since they are fairly clean.
Regular care protects against the formation of tangles, but some owners prefer to trim the hair to a length of 2.5-5 cm, as it is much easier to care for. Owners of show-class dogs resort to the help of rubber bands, which collect wool into pigtails.
Maltese has marked lacrimation, especially noticeable due to the dark color. In itself, it is harmless and normal, the main thing is that there is no infection. Dark tears under the eyes are the result of the work of the dog’s body, which is secreted with tears of porphyrins, the product of the natural breakdown of red blood cells.
Since porphyrins contain iron, tears in dogs of a red-brown hue are especially noticeable on the white coat of a Maltese lap-dog.
Maltese may have problems with teeth, without additional care they fall out with age. To avoid these problems, teeth should be brushed weekly with a special paste.
As with character, a lot depends on the manufacturers and breeders. Commercial breeding has created thousands of dogs with poor genetics. However, the Maltese lapdog of good blood is a fairly healthy breed and lives very long. With usual care, life expectancy is up to 15 years, but sometimes they live 18 or more!
This does not mean that they have no genetic diseases or health problems, they just suffer from them much less than other purebred breeds.
They need specialized care. For example, despite their long coat, they suffer from cold and cannot tolerate it. In wet weather, in the cold, they tremble and need clothing. If the dog is wet, it must be thoroughly dried.
Among the most common health problems are allergies and skin rashes. Many are allergic to flea bites, medicines, and chemicals.
Most of these allergies are treated, but additional efforts are needed to remove the triggering factor.