The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in , its latest standard being from March 10, Appearance Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome and black nose that is two finger-widths long. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with long hair and very dark eyes, surrounded by darker skin pigmentation called a "halo" , gives Maltese their expressive look. Their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color without exposure to sunlight.
This is often referred to as a "winter nose" and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun. Coat and Color The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat.
The color is pure white; although cream or light lemon ears are permissible, they are not regarded as desirable. Also, a pale ivory tinge is permitted. In some standards, traces of pale orange shades are tolerated, but considered an imperfection. Size Adult Maltese range from roughly 5 to 12 lb 2. There are variations depending on which standard is being used. Many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally less than 7 lb with between 4 and 6 lb preferred.
Temperament Maltese are bred to be cuddly companion dogs, and thrive on love and attention. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, his or her energy level and playful demeanor remain fairly constant. Some Maltese may occasionally be snappish with smaller children and should be supervised when playing, although socializing them at a young age will reduce this habit.
The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason, the breed also fares well in apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers.
Maltese also suffer from separation anxiety, so potential owners should be cognizant of this behavior. An Australia-wide not including Tasmania research project carried out in conjunction with RSPCA found owners likely to dump their Maltese terriers, citing the tendency of Maltese to bark constantly. This breed is Australia's most dumped dog. In addition, figures released in by the Korean National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service show that some 1, Maltese were abandoned between January and August , making it the most abandoned breed in Seoul, Korea.
Care Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Daily cleaning is required to prevent the risk of tear-staining. Regular grooming is also required to prevent the coats of non-shedding dogs from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut," a 1 - 2" all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy.
Some owners, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long fur to keep it from matting and breaking off, and then to show the dog with the hair unwrapped combed out to its full length. Dark staining in the hair around the eyes, "tear staining," can be a problem in this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog's eyes water and the size of the tear ducts.
Tear stain can be readily removed if a fine-toothed metal comb, moistened with lukewarm water, is carefully drawn through the snout hair just below the eyes. This maintenance activity must be performed every two or three days, as a layer of sticky film is quick to redevelop. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the staining can be minimized.
Many veterinarians recommend avoiding foods treated with food coloring, and serving distilled water to reduce tear staining. There are also a few products on the market, for preventing tear stains. Maltese are susceptible to "reverse sneezing," which sounds like a honking, snorting, or gagging sound and results often from overexcitement, play, allergies, or upon waking up.
It's not life threatening, but owners should take measures to calm their Maltese down. Some owners cover the dog's nostrils to force it to breathe through its mouth.
Always consult a physician if your Maltese reverse sneezes excessively. Crossbred Maltese Dogs A crossbreed is a dog with two pure bred parents of different breeds.
Dogs traditionally were crossed in this manner in hopes of creating a puppy with desirable qualities from each parent. Crossbreeds are typically larger than the pure breeds. For pet dogs, crosses may be done to enhance the marketability of puppies, and are often given portmanteau names.
Maltese are often deliberately crossed with Shih Tzus and Poodles to produce small, fluffy lap dogs. Maltese-Poodle crosses are called Maltipoos. Maltese crossed with Pugs are also seeing an increase in popularity. This results in a dog which is a small, friendly animal and may have a unique low or no shedding coat. Maltese crosses, like other crossbred dogs, are not eligible for registration by kennel clubs as they are not a breed of dog.
Each kennel club has specific requirements for the registration of new breeds of dog, usually requiring careful record keeping for many generations, and the development of a breed club. At times, a crossbred dog will result in a new breed, as in the case in the s when a Maltese and Lhasa Apso were accidentally bred. Descendants of that breeding are now a "purebred" breed of dog, the Kyi-Leo.