About the Maltese
Known as the Aristocrat of the Canine World and belonging to the Toy group of dogs, the Maltese is a small white dog with a coat of long silky hair. This hair covers them from head to foot, and should not quite reach the ground. Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relative the Poodle and Bichon Frise, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic, with many people who are normally allergic to dogs not reacting to the Maltese. Regular grooming is required to prevent their coats from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut," a 1 to 2 inch 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 hair to keep it from matting and breaking off.
With slight variations, the adult Maltese ranges from 4 to 7 pounds and normally stand between 7 to 12 inches in height. It is their size that makes them perfect for a variety of homes, including apartment living, as they do not need a lot of exercise. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The shoulder blades are sloping with the elbows well knit and held close to the body. The back is level in top line, the ribs well sprung. The chest is fairly deep, the loins taut, strong, and just slightly tucked up underneath.
While the color is pure white, cream ears are permissable. The nose is black, though with lack of sunlight, the nose may fade to a light brown or slightly pink. This is often referred to as "winter nose," and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun.
They have very dark eyes, of which some are surrounded by darker skin pigmentation that is called a "halo", giving the Maltese their expressive look. 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. 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.
The Maltese is generally a healthy breed with few inherent problems. They are susceptible to reverse sneezing, which will sound like a honk, snort or gagging sound. It is not life threatening or dangerous, usually occurring after over excitement, allergies, play or upon first waking up. The Maltese, as with any breed, do need routine dental care to prevent tooth infection and loss of teeth.
The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth flowing gait. The Maltese has a slightly rounded skull, with drop ears of long hair. The neck should be of sufficient length for a high carriage of the head. Legs should be 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.
Maltese puppies start out all pink, then over the next few days their pigmentation begin to darken, usually the nose and lips get speckled or mottled looking. It takes several weeks for the beautiful dark eye rims, nose and lips to come in. Maltese dogs generally live 12-16 years.
Maltese are generally energetic with an occasional outburst of physical activity, running around playing with amazing agility. Even with aging, they do not seem to lose their playfulness and energy level. They are relatively easy to train and enjoy a playful game of fetch. These intelligent dogs learn quickly, picking up new tricks and behaviours easily. They love companionship and are tolerant of children and other pets. While they are good natured, they can be protective of their owner(s) and will bark if other animals or people infringe on their territory or are perceived as a threat. The Maltese seems to be fearless and are indifferent to creatures/objects larger than themselves (unless of course it is the owner). They are among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet they are lively and playful, as well as vigorous. They are affectionate dogs who are eager to please you.
What about these terms "teacup, t-cup, micro mini" etc.? These words are simply descriptive terms used by the public to describe an adult dog that weighs less than 4 pounds. It really is no different than using the term "baby doll face" or "teddy bear face". It is simply a clarification. The terms are not recognized by AKC (the American Kennel Club) nor any of the Maltese clubs. Maltese are in the Toy Group of the American Kennel Club, with the standard being 4-7 pounds. We have some really tiny little AKC registered Maltese male dogs. Most of our AKC Maltese moms are in the 4-5 pound range. We do have the very tiny pups that mature below the standard weight of 4 pounds. Most of the dogs that we breed and take to the show ring are in the 4-6 lb range. Smaller healthy Maltese live just as long and wonderful a life as a 7 pound Maltese. They do require a little different care and feeding. Remember, a well bred dog is your most healthy, trainable and beautiful puppy.