By: Andrew Munford
These little bundles of fur and attitude have a history that dates back to fourth century B.C. according to the American Kennel Club.
The Maltese gets its name from the island of Malta where the breed originated. It has always been known as a breed that symbolizes the beauty, elegance and pomp of the aristocracy. Aristotle even referred to them as being “perfectly proportioned.” If you’ve ever had the joy of being a parent to a Maltese you’d know they agree on their perceived perfection.
Aristocrats in the Roman empire were known to have a Maltese with them seemingly all the time. It’s not actually a new idea to carry your pup around as a status symbol. Roman matrons were known to carry the Maltese around in their dresses and archaeologists have found many hand-drawn pictures of the toy type pooches on commissioned paintings that would have been hanging in the halls of the finest dwellings in ancient Greece and Rome.
The Chinese can be credited with saving the breed. After the fall of Rome, Chinese breeders crossbred the Maltese with other toy breeds and returned a slightly more refined version of the breed to Europe. Thanks to those changes the Maltese have finer and lusher fur, as well as a temperament that makes them a perfect show dog.
As with many toy breeds, the Maltese are small in stature but full of personality. Average weight is under 6 pounds and is generally small enough to fit into a hoodie pocket (in case you want to take your pup out during the Texas winter months).
Their fur is luxurious and silky, which means grooming should be regular and detailed. They may look like spoiled dogs, but they will play as hard as any dog twice their size. This can lead to headaches with fur matting and staining so it’s a good idea to have regularly scheduled baths and combing sessions.
While your Maltese may love it outside, they have a limited capacity to vent and cool themselves off in elevated heat. During the Texas summer, it’s best to limit their time outdoors and to make sure their paw pads are protected on the pavement. They may be too stubborn to indicate to you that they’re struggling to cope with the heat if they’re in the middle of playing so it’s even more important to keep them hydrated. If they’re upset with you for cutting play time short you can always appease their bottomless tummies with plenty of treats.
The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese pups.
A fine model of the Maltese was unearthed in the Fayum in Egypt leading experts to believe the Maltese may have been worshiped by ancient Egyptians.
The first known Maltese in the United States was listed as the “Maltese Lion Dog” at a Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1877.
Many fashion designers have crafted dog carriers with the Maltese specifically in mind. Louis Vuitton made a line of carriers for a number of celebrities, which led to other designers jumping to do the same thing.
Also, a fact known more to Maltese owners — If you feed a Maltese dinner and a snack it will still act as if it’s been starved for weeks.