ABOUT A MALTESE
The following information is taken from the American Kennel Club, whose descriptions and qualifications of a Maltese are what are used to identify purebred dogs:
DID YOU KNOW:
• The Maltese was known as "Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta", which for more than 28 centuries has been an aristocrat of the canine world.
• At the time of the Apostle Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese named Issa of which he was very fond; in this connection, the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial) made this attachment famous in one of his celebrated epigrams.
• The Greeks erected tombs to their Maltese.
• A fine model of the Maltese was unearthed in the Fayum in Egypt, making it not unlikely that this breed was the kind of dog worshipped by the Egyptians.
• The first Maltese exhibited in the US was white and listed as a Maltese Lion Dog at WKC's first dog show in 1877.
• The AKC accepted the Maltese for registration in 1888.
Maltese Breed Standard
The Maltese is a toy dog covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. He is gentle-mannered and affectionate, eager and sprightly in action, and, despite his size, possessed of the vigor needed for the satisfactory companion.
Of medium length and in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is slightly rounded on top, the stop moderate. The drop ears are rather low set and heavily feathered with long hair that hangs close to the head. Eyes are set not too far apart; they are very dark and round, their black rims enhancing the gentle yet alert expression. The muzzle is of medium length, fine and tapered but not snipy.The nose is black. The teeth meet in an even, edge-to-edge bite, or in a scissors bite.
Sufficient length of neck is desirable as promoting a high carriage of the head.
Compact, the height from the withers to the ground equaling the length from the withers to the root of the tail. Shoulder blades are sloping, the elbows well knit and held close to the body. The back is level in topline, the ribs well sprung. The chest is fairly deep, the loins taut, strong, and just slightly tucked up underneath.
A long-haired plume carried gracefully over the back, its tip lying to the side over the quarter.
Legs and Feet
Legs are fine-boned and nicely feathered. Forelegs are straight, their pastern joints well knit and devoid of appreciable bend. Hind legs are strong and moderately angulated at stifles and hocks. The feet are small and round, with toe pads black. Scraggly hairs on the feet may be trimmed to give a neater appearance.
Coat and Color
The coat is single, that is, without undercoat. It hangs long, flat, and silky over the sides of the body almost, if not quite, to the ground. The long head-hair may be tied up in a topknot or it may be left hanging. Any suggestion of kinkiness, curliness, or woolly texture is objectionable. Color, pure white. Light tan or lemon on the ears is permissible, but not desirable.
Weight under 7 pounds, with from 4 to 6 pounds preferred. Overall quality is to be favored over size.
The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth, flowing gait. Viewed from the side, he gives an impression of rapid movement, size considered. In the stride, the forelegs reach straight and free from the shoulders, with elbows close. Hind legs to move in a straight line. Cowhocks or any suggestion of hind leg toeing in or out are faults.
For all his diminutive size, the Maltese seems to be without fear. His trust and affectionate responsiveness are very appealing. He is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet he is lively and playful as well as vigorous.
The Maltese, the ancient dog of Malta, has been known as an aristocrat of the canine world for more than 28 centuries. Their place in antiquity is well documented. At the time of the Apostle Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese name Issa of which he was very fond. Issa was the object of the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in A.D. 40 at Bilbilis in Spain, in one of his celebrated epigrams:
Issa is more frolicsome than Catulla's sparrow. Issa is purer than a dove's kiss. Issa is gentler than a maiden. Issa is more precious than Indian gems... Lest the last days that she see light should snatch her from him forever, Publius has had her picture painted.
This picture was said to have been so lifelike it was difficult to tell the picture from the living dog.
Many similar accounts in ancient doctrine address the Maltese as an object of beauty and value. The Greeks erected tombs to their Maltese, and from the ceramic art dating to the 5th century innumerable paintings of the little dog are evident. Literary accounts detail Maltese maintaining a place of esteem and privilege in Royal households, a status the Maltese has maintained throughout history.
The first Maltese exhibited in the United States was white and listed as a Maltese Lion Dog at Westminster's first show in 1877. The American Kennel Club accepted the Maltese for registration in 1888.
Perhaps due to the popularity of the Maltese for centuries as household pets of people of culture, wealth, and fastidious taste, the Maltese has remained a dog of refinement, fidelity, and cleanliness. It should be noted that the Maltese is a spaniel possessing a healthy and spirited temperament, even though tiny and artistic in appearance.