The Maltese Terrier is a small, energetic breed and is often referred to as a lap-dog, because they are predominantly housed indoors. Obviously, if you are in search of a working dog this isn’t the breed for you, but what they lack in a desire to work, they make up for in personality.
A member of the bishon family, it is one of the oldest European breeds. As the name suggests, the origins of this breed date back to 1500 B.C in Malta, an island south of Sicily, in the Mediterranean Sea. The history of the Maltese prior to this is unclear, although some speculate that they were brought to Malta by Phoenician traders sailing around the Mediterranean, and there is evidence that they were admired by early civilisations such as the Ancient Greeks, and the Romans also kept them as pets. It travelled from Malta to China and the Philippines with Maltese traders.
Purebreds should be white in colour with dark features. However, some dogs can display cream or lemon markings, but this is considered highly-undesirable by breeders. Their trademark long silky coat makes them impressive show dogs, but they are easily trimmed for low maintenance with regular clipping. If left long, the coat will require daily maintenance to prevent painful matting. Some puppies are born with curly or woolly hair; this is considered to be outside the standard, but if you’re not after a show dog, this can be an endearing feature.
Generally Maltese are a healthy breed with few genetic conditions, although they have been associated with eye disorders, skin allergies and hypoglycemia. Regular trips to the vet will help your Maltese Terrier remain in good health, and assist in the early detection of any conditions it may develop before they become a serious problem. These pint-sized pooches are very resilient and usually live for between 12 and 14 years.
They are a petite breed with the average weight ranging from two to five kilos. Despite their small size they have a huge heart, and aren’t afraid to show their owners how loyal and affectionate they can be.
Their gentle, friendly nature means they are easy-going most of the time, but they can sometimes be intolerant of small children and other pets. They’re ideally suited to elderly owners, or families with older children. Not only are they highly alert watchdogs, their small stature and obedient nature also makes them exceptionally easy to handle. Maltese are typically a high-energy breed, but they’re also happy to curl up next to their owner and enjoy some peace and quiet. Although they may not want to share their home with another pet, they are a social breed and enjoy regular interaction with other dogs. Socialising your dog will also help it release its energy and make for a happier companion.
Like all dogs, Maltese require regular walks and plenty of love and interaction from their owners. They are an intelligent breed, so they don’t like to be left alone for long periods and may become easily bored. If it is necessary to leave your dog unattended, make sure they have plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied until you return. Keeping your furry companion busy with positive activities will stop them making their own fun by digging holes in your garden and chewing up your shoes.
Sadly, despite their loveable nature and intelligence, Maltese topped the list of the most frequently dumped breeds in Australia, according to figures compiled by the RSPCA. With this in mind, if you would like to offer a good, lasting home to an adult Maltese, you should check your local shelter.
You can expect to pay between $400 and $700 for a purebred pup from a breeder; less if adopting an adult dog from an animal shelter.
If you are considering buying a Maltese Terrier, it’s important to make sure that the breeder is registered and reputable. This will ensure that you are given accurate information about the pup’s background and health, and you may even have the opportunity to see the parents and assess the standard of breeding. You can obtain the details for a responsible breeder by contacting the Queensland Canine Control Council on (07) 3252 2661.
Overall the Maltese Terrier is an energetic and affectionate breed in a compact little package. Their versatility means they will happily run around the backyard after the kids, or spend the day on the couch relaxing with their owner. A well looked after Maltese will be a friend for life and will reward you with loyalty and affection. Their high energy level is also sure to keep you and your family entertained.