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The Maltese is a small and spunky toy dog known for retaining its puppy-like personality throughout its life. It is a favourite companion breed specifically designed to shower love to its family. The Maltese is also extremely loyal, fearless and affectionate. It weighs 4 to 7 pounds and stands 20 to 25 centimetres at the withers. This dog breed is believed to originate from the Island of Malta, hence the name.
Are you planning to keep a Maltese as a family companion? Read on to learn more about this daring little dog.
The Maltese is considered to be one of the ancient dog breeds dating back 8,000 years ago. It is depicted in several works of poets and artists in the pre-Christian time. However, when it comes to its existence, there is quite a debate as to how the little dog then called "Canes Melitei" came to be. Some scholars argue that it came from Melita, a town in Sicily in 25 AD, while Greeks and Romans believed it originated in the Mediterranean Island of Malta.
Maltese dogs were thought to have descended from a Spitz or Spaniel-type dog or a breed that is related to the Tibetan Terrier. Regardless of its bloodlines, this toy dog has found its place in the hearts of French aristocrats. It is in the early 1300s that the Maltese dogs were introduced to England, wherein the noble ladies favoured its diminutive size.
In the mid-1800s, breeders in the UK categorised the Maltese as a Terrier dog because of its fearless and bold nature, also thanks to its excellent ratter skills. Not everyone agreed that it belonged to the Terrier Group so for a time, it was simply referred to as the Maltese Dog, and later categorised as a Toy dog because of its tiny size. The breed is Kennel Club registered.
The Maltese is characterised by its moderately round skull, black button nose, expressive brown eyes, and long feathered drop ears. It is a toy dog weighing 4 to 7 pounds and standing 20 to 25 centimetres. This cute little dog retains it puppy-like looks, which make it a favourite household pet around the world. The Maltese is well balanced with short, straight legs, nicely sloped shoulders, well-sprung ribs, and a level back.
The Maltese sports a long and silky coat without an undercoat, and must come in pure white colour only, although the pale ivory colour is permitted on the ears. Its coat does not shed, so it is often referred as hypoallergenic. However, the coat becomes easily dirty, and matts may form, so make sure to gently brush and comb the Maltese on a daily basis. It also needs to be taken to the professional groomers from time to time.
Maltese dogs tend to get tearstains, which are emphasised due to their white coats. Make sure to gently clean the tear stains with a clean and damp cloth. In addition, it is also important to observe other basic care regimens such as regular brushing of teeth, cleaning of ears and trimming of nails. Grooming is also a way to check up on the dog to look out for signs of infection or other skin allergies.
The Maltese is a lively and energetic dog that loves nothing more than to be with its family. Despite its tiny size, it is a robust dog that is determined and fearless. It is very vocal, which may pose a problem to neighbours if it is not socialised and trained early to curb its desire to bark. With this said, it is also an excellent watchdog, quick to alert when there are strangers in the area.
The Maltese forms strong bonds with its family with its affectionate nature and eager to please attitude. However, the downside is that it is prone to suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for longer periods of time. Since it is a people-pleaser, it responds well to training. It is quick to learn and will not hesitate to show off tricks to entertain its family. Surprisingly, Maltese dogs also excel in canine sports such as agility, obedience, rally, and tracking trials. They are also popular as supertherapy dogs.
The Maltese's biddable nature makes it an ideal choice for first-time dog owners, although it can be a bit hard to house train than most toy dogs. It is very versatile and can adapt to different environments. It can be happy living in a city apartment or the country, provided that it gets enough mental stimulation and exercise.
Maltese dogs are better suited to families with older children as they tend to be snappy with toddlers. Nevertheless, interaction must always be well supervised. When it comes to other household pets, the Maltese gets on well with other dogs, but care should be taken when they are around small animals.
A typical serving for an adult Maltese is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of quality dry dog food per day, divided into two to three meals. Other than the dog's size, different factors determine its diet (type and amount) such as age, gender, health, activity level and metabolism. Just to make sure you're giving the Maltese a balanced diet, consult with a veterinarian or a canine nutritionist.
Typical daily calorie needs of adult Maltese weighing 5 pounds:
Since the Maltese is a diminutive dog weighing less than 10 pounds, select a dog food formulated for small dogs. It is important that the dog is given a diet rich in animal protein for bone and muscle growth. Make sure to measure its food properly and feed the Maltese two to three times a day, instead of a large single meal.
Although the Maltese is a generally robust and healthy dog, it can suffer from genetic health problems typical to its breed. These health problems include Patellar Luxation, Portosystemic Liver Shunt, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Hypoglycaemia, White Dog Shaker Syndrome, Collapsed Trachea and Reverse Sneezing. To know about these health problems and come up with preventive measures, consult a veterinarian.
The Maltese is an active indoor dog that does not require a great deal of outdoor exercise to keep them in good physical condition. However, it enjoys romping or dashing around in the yard and taking short walks. For its own protection, the fence should be thoroughly checked for gaps through which it might squeeze out.
If you are set on caring for a Maltese, be ready to pay £600 up to £2000 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. To ensure it stays healthy at whatever age, be ready to spend £30-£40 a month on high-quality dog food. You also need to factor in the initial cost for dog accessories and equipment such as food bowls, leads, collars, and beds, which will likely be about £200 depending on the brand.
When it comes to healthcare, you need to be prepared in case your dog suddenly falls ill or gets into an accident. You can offset some medical bills if you get a pet insurance, which can range from £21 a month for a time-limited cover up to £42 a month for a lifelong insurance cover. These prices vary depending on your dog’s health and age, size and weight, the type of cover you choose, and whether it has pre-existing conditions.
Other outgoings to consider are veterinary expenses that may not be included in a pet insurance coverage such as vaccinations, routine checks, neutering or spaying, and annual boosters, which can have a combined cost of £800 annually. Roughly, you will be setting aside £60-£100 a month for recurring expenses, depending on the type of insurance cover you choose. This estimate is exclusive of walking or grooming services that you might want to use at times.
Are you sure the Maltese is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Are ready to bring home a tiny forever-puppy like the Maltese? If still in doubt, check out other dog breeds with our Pet Finder.
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