The Maltese is a very petite dog typically weighing between 4 to 6 pounds. Although some of them may reach as much as 9 pounds, it is uncommon for them to exceed 7 pounds. Once known as “The Ancient Dog of Malta”, it was believed this dog breed originated from an island directly south of Italy called Malta Island. They have been identified in writings as early as 300 B.C. and are thought to be one of the oldest of all dog breeds with a history that can be traced back almost 2000 years. Evidence has been found that suggest the Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese-like dogs and the ancient Egyptians may have worshipped them. Although originally bred for hunting, they became favored as a lap dog in Britain during the time of Queen Elizabeth I. First seen in the United States in the late 1800’s, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Maltese as part of the toy group in 1888.
Maltese as Pets
Generally, the Maltese is not an outdoor dog. Their silky white coat may be difficult to keep clean and requires daily brushing to prevent matting. Favored as a lap dog for centuries across Europe, the Maltese is a very adaptable, gentle, and affectionate family pet that can do well in homes of any size. Known to be fearless, bold, and feisty, they may be inclined to challenge other dogs of any size if not socialized properly. Although they generally tend to be reserved around strangers, this breed also has a “wild side” which loves to run, play, and bark a lot. The Maltese do not like to be left alone and are known to suffer from separation anxiety when overly pampered by their owners.
Positive reinforcement training works best with the Maltese. They are very quick learners when rewarded properly during training and are less likely to have behavioral problems if walked daily. They can be very active and love to play indoors, but indoor play should never replace a daily outdoor walk. As with any breed, be sure to stay consistent with your training and maintain a strong leadership role. Proper socialization while your dog is still a puppy will help to avoid behavior issues in the presence of other dogs as they become adults. Contact an ABC Certified Dog Trainer in your local area for help with better understanding your Maltese.