A Maltese is a small breed of dog with white fur that does not shed. Adult Maltese range from 5 to 15 lb (2.5 to 7 kg). They are easy to train and enjoy playing. The standard type is for a straight, silky coat. Some individuals may have curly or woolly hair, but this is considered to be outside the desirable standard. Maltese do not have an undercoat.
Maltese can be extremely energetic, and are known for their occasional wild outbursts of physical activity, where they simply bolt around at top speed with amazing agility. They are very strong dogs, and their cleverness can sometimes lead them into trouble.
The breed has a reputation for having a good-natured temperament but is also fearless and may be intolerant of children and other pets. It is very protectful of a loving owner, and will bite at any hand that is perceived as a threat to its owner. Its fearlessness must always be kept in mind.
Maltese are small dogs and appear fragile, but are very tough for their size. Children might not realize that they are not toys and could play too rough with them. This could result in the child getting bitten if the Maltese decided to protect itself.
As puppies, they like to smell and lick everything and at times will bark at other dogs or at people
Once known as"Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta", the Maltese breed has a history that traces back many centuries. Some have placed its origin at two or three thousand years ago. The Maltese is thought to have been descended from a spitz type dog and bred down to obtain its small size. Although there is some evidence that the breed originated in Asia, Maltese are generally associated with the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. The dogs probably made their way to Europe through the Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes. The Isle of Malta (or Melitae as it was then known) was a geographic center of early trade, and explorers undoubtedbly found ancesters of the tiny, white dogs left there as barter for necessities and supplies. The dogs were favored by the wealthy and royalty alike and were bred, over time to specifically be a companion animal. It has been called both a spaniel and a terrier but both names are considered incorrect.
At the time of the Apostle Paul, Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, had a Maltese named Issa of which he was very fond. In this connection the poet Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial), born in A.D. 38 at Bilbilis in Spain, made this attachment famous in one of his celebrated epigrams:
- "Issa is more frolicsome than Catulla's sparrow."
- "Issa is purer than a dove's kiss. Issa is gentler than a maiden."
- "Issa is more precious than Indian gems..."
- "Lest the last days that she sees light should snatch her from him forever,"
- "Publius has had her picture painted."
It is said that the picture of the dog is so life-like, one cannot tell the dog from the picture.