Playful, Charming, Gentle
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The Maltese is an ancient breed whose history traces back at least two millenia. Many historians attribute the breed's origin to the island of Malta located in the Mediterranean. There are early representations of the Maltese on artifacts found at Fayum, Egypt. They were even mentioned by Greek philosopher Aristotle around 370 B.C. Ancient hieroglyphics depict that in Egypt, harem women were given Maltese dogs as companions. The Maltese was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1888.
Create the perfect meal plan for your Maltese
The Maltese is a toy dog breed with a small, compact body. These dogs have dark eyes, small floppy ears and a tufted tail that curls over their back. A Maltese generally reaches somewhere between 7-9 inches in height and just under 7 pounds in weight.
Maltese are characterized as affectionate, playful, charming and intelligent. With their gentle disposition, the Maltese make wonderful family pets. They get along well with children and other dogs when raised with them. The Maltese is a natural watchdog which can make them defensive around strangers at first. Occasionally, the Maltese can have a stubborn streak but this is easy to overcome through proper training.
Grooming Your Maltese
The distinctive feature of the Maltese is their silky white coat. Some owners decide to trim the coat short while others keep it long and flowing. Although Maltese dogs don’t shed much, it’s important to brush them daily to prevent mats and tangles. Maltese also need regular nail trimming, ear cleaning and dental care.
Training & Exercise for a Maltese
Maltese are independent dogs and sometimes stubborn, so it’s best to start socializing and training them from a young age. This will ensure your Maltese grows into a happy, well-adjusted adult. As a breed that thrives on human interaction, Maltese are easy to train and pick up on basic commands very easily. Positive reinforcement and reward-based training goes a long way with this breed.
Maltese don’t require a lot of exercise to keep happy and healthy. As a small breed, these dogs don’t require a lot of space to burn off some energy. Maltese enjoy daily walks, hikes, playing fetch and other fun activities.
Health Considerations for a Maltese
The Maltese is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 12-15 years. To ensure your Maltese gets the most out of these years, it’s important to be aware of some of the common health issues Maltese are prone to including: encephalitis, liver shunt, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) and patellar luxation.
Young middle-aged dogs are more at risk of developing encephalitis. Encephalitis is an inflammatory brain infection that usually results from various causes such as fungus, parasites, or bacteria. Some common symptoms to look out for in your Maltese include fever, seizures, blindness, tremors and loss of coordinations. If your Maltese is showing any signs of encephalitis immediate care is required as this condition progresses rapidly and can even be life-threatening.
Liver shunt is a congenital defect commonly found in the Maltese breed. This vascular anomaly of the liver occurs when veins that should carry blood to the liver bypass the liver through an abnormal vessel. Symptoms of liver shunt include seizures, excessive urination,vomiting, diarrhea and abnormally small body size. Surgery is often the treatment of choice to correct and close the shunt.
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), is the most common congenital heart disease in dogs. This occurs when the patent ductus arteriosus muscle fails to constrict, this leaves a passageway for blood flow which can result in heart failure. Some signs to be aware of in your Maltese include fast breathing, a forceful pulse, shortness of breath and poor growth. If detected in time this condition can be treated with surgery.
Patellar luxation is a common problem among many toy or small breeds, including the Maltese. A luxating patella is a knee cap that moves out of its normal position. When this occurs your Maltese may have difficulty bearing weight on their leg. This condition can cause your Maltese to have cartilage damage, pain, inflammation and in some cases ligament tears. Some symptoms to look for in your Maltese include limping, lameness or sudden lifting of the hindlimb. Treatment will depend on the severity of the condition, however surgery may be needed to hold the patella in its appropriate location.
Maltese are susceptible to the respiratory disorder reverse sneezing. This occurs when the soft palate of your Maltese becomes irritated. During a reverse sneeze your Maltese will forcefully inhale air through their nose. A loud snorting or honking sound is produced but this is usually harmless. Most cases of reverse sneezing don’t require treatment or medication.
What Makes a Maltese Unique?
The Maltese is the oldest toy breed
Believed to be over 2000 years old, the Maltese is one of the oldest toy breeds in existence today. These companion dogs were highly admired by the Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians. Maltese are also closely related to other toy breeds including the Bichon Frise and the Havanese.
The Maltese is hypoallergenic
Sporting a long, silky coat of hair, Maltese don’t shed much. However, Poms still require regular grooming to keep their coat in check. As a hypoallergenic breed, the Maltese is great for owners who are allergic to dog dandruff and fur.
A Maltese was a billionaire
A Maltese named Trouble was among one of the wealthiest canines. When Trouble’s owner Leona Helmsley died in 2007, she left $12 million dollars to her pooch in her will. A judge later cut back the dog’s inheritance to $2 million dollars. Trouble lived a life of luxury before passing away in 2011.
The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese
The Ancient Greeks had a great love and respect for their Maltese dogs. The breed was admired for beauty and companionship. The famous Greek Philosopher, Aristotle was the first to mention the Maltese in his writings. Maltese were so highly valued by the Greeks they would erect lavish tombs to commemorate their beloved pups once they passed.
Royalty loved the Maltese
Maltese were originally bred as companion animals for royalty. Queen Elizabeth, Queen Victoria, Marie Antoinette and Mary Queen of Scots were among some of the many royal figures that owned a Maltese dog in their lifetime.
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