The Maltese Terrier is one of the most recognizable toy breeds in the world, and is thought to be one of the oldest European toy breeds. They are believed to be the result of crossing miniature spaniels with the miniature poodle. More than 2,000 years ago, Phoenician traders were thought to have brought this breed to the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. Malta was a geographic center of early trade and explorers first discovered these little white dogs when they were used as bartering tools for necessities and supplies. They became favored companion dogs by royalty and Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria and Marie Antoinette were just a few of the proud owners of this pretty and affectionate breed. The Maltese was also depicted in Greek art and could be seen in ceramics, sculptures and paintings.
The Maltese Terrier is easily recognizable by its long, white and silky coat, small black nose, big brown eyes and drop ears. These dogs have no undercoat and shed little to no hair, making them perfect for allergy sufferers. The coat is often left long, but some owners prefer to keep it clipped short. The coat requires plenty of regular grooming and, if it is kept long, the hair on the top of the head should be clipped back to keep it out of the dog’s eyes. They are quite long dogs and weigh in the region of 4- 7lbs and stand at around 30cms in height. They are generally quite healthy dogs with few inherent problems. They have a good life span of between twelve and fifteen years or longer.
Maltese Terriers are very intelligent and loyal little dogs and can be very protective towards their owners. They are, however, inclined to be a bit snappy, particularly with noisy and boisterous children. They are very playful and affectionate and love nothing better than to be cuddled up with their owners. Maltese require minimal training, as they are very obedient by nature and learn tricks very easily. These dogs make the ideal companion for anyone with limited living space, as they do not require vast amounts of exercise.
The Greeks erected tombs to their Maltese Terriers. It is thought that the Egyptians worshiped the breed, as a model of the Maltese was unearthed in Egypt. The Maltese was once known as Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta. The American Kennel Club accepted the breed for registration in 1888.
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