Maltese are marked by their high agility, companionship, elegancy and joyful nature. They have been known to mankind since the past 2000 years and have been man’s best friend. They are popularly known by many names such as the comforter, Maltese lion dog, Maltese terrier, roman ladies dog, ye ancient Dogge of Malta, Melitae dog, Spaniel gentle, Bichon and many more.
The breed was first developed in the Isle of Malta and these dogs perhaps descended from the Spaniel or Spitz type dogs. The Kennel Club gave him recognition in the 19th century. 99% of Maltese are white in color; however, some states accept parti- colored Maltese as well.
Maltese – At a glance
The following list of general and physical characteristics will help you to get familiarized with your Maltese: –
• Breed type: Pure breed (belong to the toy/ toy and tea cup/ companion/ show breed group). These dogs have been given recognition by the American Kennel Club, FCI, Canadian Kennel Club, New Zealand Kennel Club, Kennel Club of Great Britain, Dog Registry of America, Inc., United Kennel Club and various others).
• Height: Males have an average height of 8 to 10 inch whereas females have an average height of 7 to 9 inch at the shoulders.
• Weight: Males have an average weight of 3 to 8 pounds whereas females have an average weight of 2 to 7 pounds.
• Life Span: These dogs have an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.
• Available coat colors: According to the guidelines by several reputed organizations, the Maltese should have a white coat color.
• They have a straight, thick and silky coat.
Temperament and Personality traits
Maltese are great companion dogs. They can get along with children and other pets very easily. These dogs are huggable and many owners love to cuddle them. These dogs may look fragile, but are actually hard and sturdy. They will enjoy sitting on the laps of their owners and would love to get praised and cuddled up.
The Maltese can never live a lonely life. Therefore, make sure that you spend enough time with him. He or she can even develop separation anxiety and develop neural disorders if he or she is kept alone for a long period of time.
One of the major problems in Maltese can be that they will usually bark at almost everything. However, with proper training methods given to them since puppy hood, these dogs can be very obedient. They love to listen to their masters and hence teaching these dogs isn’t difficult. Try positive reinforcement techniques for getting them trained. Sending Maltese puppies to kindergarten classes will help them know how to behave in societies. Maltese are suitable for all types of homes.
Maltese are also suitable for families which contain members that are allergic to dog hair and dander as they shed minimally.
Feeding habits and Nutrition
The right amount of food to be given to your dog is of immense importance for keeping good health. Ensure that, with the recommended amount of diet, your Maltese should be taken for regular walks. A 30 to 40 minutes’ walk will keep them fit and their body weight will be under control.
Recommended daily nutrition includes ½ to 1 cup of premium quality dry dog food divided into two equal meals every day. Puppies will require the same amount but divide their meal into three equal parts. For puppies, feed your Maltese with Puppy dog food formula, for adults, feed them with adult dry dog food formula and for aged Maltese feed them with senior dog food formula. Brands that can be trusted are – Acana, Dr. Tim’s, Purina and Hills dry dog food. Never feed your dog with human food or food that contains sweet, cheese, garlic, onion, chocolates, alcohol, apple core, raisins, cashews etc…
Health and Immunization
Maltese are prone to reverse sneezing – a condition in which Maltese will sound as if they were choked and were unable to breathe, but in reality they are gasping air through mouth. Reverse sneezing can be a result of over excitement, allergies etc…
Maltese can also be affected by several other diseases such as Patellar luxation (causing pain, crippling or lameness due to dislocation of the knee cap), hip and elbow dysplasia (causing extreme pain in the hip and elbow joints and may cause lameness or lead to a condition called arthritis), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (causing partial or complete blindness), hypoglycemia (i.e. low blood sugar level – make sure you feed your Maltese with one teaspoon of honey syrup everyday), collapsed trachea, obesity, cancer and others.
Maltese should be immunized at regular intervals so that they are protected from various diseases caused by dangerous viruses. Some mandatory vaccines for this breed includes: – Parvovirus, Rabies, Distemper, Coronavirus, Hepatitis A and B, Influenza and Parainfluenza vaccines. Inject annual booster shots from experienced vets.
Care and Grooming
It is recommended that you appoint a professional groomer for your Maltese. Be ready to spend bucks for getting your Maltese’s hair trimmed at least once a month. Managing their coat can get easier if you brush them twice, daily. Use a soft bristle brush or a human hair brush to brush their hair and make them tangle – free. Maltese won’t require frequent bathing until they get themselves dirty. Maltese have a white colored coat and hence you should take utmost care to keep them looking neat and elegant. Bathe them at least once in two weeks.
Brush their teeth three times a week and cut their toe nails at least once a month if they don’t wear them naturally. Start grooming session in these dogs at a very early stage so that they can easily owe themselves to you when they grow up (which will help in undergoing smooth grooming sessions).
Buy a Maltese dog according to the guidelines given by the organizations that give them registration and recognition (as mentioned above). Always keep in mind that you should buy a disease- free or a disease resistant dog so that your dog does not fall ill again and again.