Bichon Maltaise (Prized Dog of Malta )
A Maltese is a small breed of white dog that does not shed.
An adorable Maltese enjoying the fall leaves.The Maltese is a dog belonging to the toy group that is covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. Adult Maltese range from roughly 3 to 10 lb (1.4 to 4.5 kg), though breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 4 and 8 lb (1.8 to 3.7 kg). There are variations depending on which standard is being used; many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally between 4 and 6 lb (1.8 to 2.7 kg), and no more than 7 lb (3.2 kg). The coat is long, wavy and silky and lacks an undercoat. The color is pure white and although cream or light lemon ears are permissible, they are not desirable. Some individuals may have curly or woolly hair, but this is outside the standard. Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a one (1) finger width dome. Also, a black nose that is two (2) finger width long.The drop ears with long hair and very dark eyes, surrounded by darker skin pigmentation that is called a "halo", giving Maltese their expressive look. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. Their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color. This is often referred to as a "winter nose" and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun
The Maltese is generally a healthy breed with few inherent problems. Some problems seen are luxating patella, portosystemic liver shunt, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Average life span is 12-15 years.
A Maltese, with relatively no real professional grooming, just a normal house dog. Note that most Malteses have "tear staining", which takes much effort to remove.Maltese have hair, not fur and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives Poodles and Bichon Frisť, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to Dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese (See list of Hypoallergenic dog breeds). Regular grooming is required to prevent their coats from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut," a 1 - 2" all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some owners who prefer long hair will roll it in curlers to keep it from matting. Dark staining in the hair around the eyes ("tear staining") can be a problem in this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog's eyes water and the size of the tear ducts. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the staining can be minimized. Many veterinarians recommend avoiding foods and treats with food coloring and serving distilled water to reduce tear staining.
Maltese can be very energetic and are known for their occasional wild outbursts of physical activity, bolting around at top speed with amazing agility; given this, they still do well for apartment dwellers. They are relatively easy to train and enjoy a playful game of fetch. These intelligent dogs learn quickly, and pick up new tricks and behaviours easily. Since they were bred specifically for companionship, they do not do well being left alone for long hours.
The breed has a reputation for being good-natured, but may be intolerant of small children or other dogs. They can be protective of their owner and will bark or may bite if animals or people infringe on their territory or are perceived as a threat.
For all their diminutive size, Maltese seem to be without fear. In fact, many Maltese seem relatively indifferent to creatures/objects larger than themselves (unless of course it is the owner). They are among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet they are lively and playful as well as vigorous. Because of their size, Maltese dogs are not a good choice for families with small children because they can be easily injured.
The Maltese is commonly bred with other breeds to further express its temperament and intelligence.
Central Mediterranean region (Italy)
As an aristocrat of the canine world, this ancient breed has been known by a variety of names throughout the centuries. Originally called the Melitaie Dog, he has also been known as "Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta", the Roman Ladies' Dog, the Comforter Dog, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, the Shock Dog, the Maltese Lion Dog and the Maltese Terrier. Sometime within the past century, he has come to simply be known as the Maltese. The breed's history can be traced back many centuries. Some have placed its origin at two or three thousand years ago and Darwin himself placed the origin of the breed at 6000 BC.
The Maltese is thought to have been descended from a Spitz type dog found among the Swiss Lake dwellers and bred down to obtain its small size. Although there is also some evidence that the breed originated in Asia and is related to the Tibetan Terrier, the exact origin is unknown 2. 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. Some writers believe these proto-Maltese were used for rodent control before the cuteness factor was locked in. The Isle of Malta (or Melitae as it was then known) was a geographic center of early trade, and explorers undoubtedly found ancestors 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. Some royals that purportedly owned Maltese were Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, Josephine Bonaparte and Marie Antoinette.
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.
An other interesting fact is that the word "ISSA" is still a very common word in the Maltese Language, which translates to the word "NOW" in English.
During the Renaissance, the poet Ludovico Ariosto in a few lines of his literary masterpiece, Orlando Furioso, describes a dog that can surely only be a Maltese.
"The tiniest dog Nature has ever produced --
Her coat of long hair, whiter than ermine,
Her movements exquisitely graceful and
Matchless elegance of appearance."
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