Maltese (dog)

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Maltezer Vereniging Belgie.jpg
Maltese dog.
Country of origin Central Mediterranean Area [1]
Patronage Italy [1]
Traits
Weight Male 3-8 lb.
Female 2-7 lb.
Height Male 8-10 in.
Female 8-9 in.
Coat white
Litter size avg. 1 to 3 puppies.
Life span 12-15 years[2]
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Maltese is a small breed of dog in the Toy Group. It descends from dogs originating in the Central Mediterranean Area. The breed name and origins are generally understood to derive from the Mediterranean island nation of Malta; however, the name is sometimes described with reference to the distinct Adriatic island of Mljet, or a defunct Sicilian town called Melita.[3][4][5][6]

History[edit]

A Maltese as a Show Dogs at AKC Maltese Dog Show 2013


This ancient breed has been known by a variety of names throughout the centuries. Originally called the "Canis Melitaeus" in Latin, it has also been known in English as the "ancient dog of Malta," the "Roman Ladies' Dog," the "Maltese Lion Dog." The origin of the common name "Cokie" is unknown, but is believed to have originated in the mid-1960s on the U.S. East Coast and spread in popular use. This breed has been referred falsely as the "Bichon", as that name refers to the family ("small long-haired dog") and not the breed. The Kennel Club officially settled on the name "Maltese" for the breed in the 19th century.[3]

The Maltese is thought to have been descended from a Spitz-type dog found among the Swiss Lake Dwellers and was selectively bred to attain its small size. There is also some evidence that the breed originated in Asia and is related to the Tibetan Terrier; however, the exact origin is unknown.[7][8] 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[5][9] before the appearance of the breed gained paramount importance.

The oldest record of this breed was found on a Greek amphora[10] found in the Etruscan town of Vulci, in which a Maltese-like dog is portrayed along with the word Μελιταιε (Melitaie). Archaeologists date this ancient Athenian product to the decades around 500 BC.[11] References to the dog can also be found in Ancient Greek and Roman literature.[12]

Aristotle was the first to mention its name Melitaei Catelli, when he compares the dog to a mustelid, around 370 BC.[13][14] The first written document (supported by Stephanus of Byzantium[4][15][16][17]) describing the small Canis Melitaeus was given by the Greek writer Callimachus, around 350 BC.[18] Pliny suggests the dog as having taken its name from the Adriatic island Méléda;[15] however, Strabo, in the early first century AD, identifies the breed as originating from the Mediterranean island of Malta,[6][19] and writes that they were favored by noble women.[3][16][18][20]

During the first century, the Roman poet Martial wrote descriptive verses to a small white dog named Issa owned by his friend Publius.[21] It is commonly thought that Issa was a Maltese dog, and various sources link Martial's friend Publius with the Roman Governor Publius of Malta,[22] though others do not identify him.[23]

John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, also claimed that Callimachus was referring to the island of Melita "in the Sicilian strait" (Malta).[16] This claim is often repeated, especially by English writers.[5][24] The dog's links to Malta are mentioned in the writings of Abbé Jean Quintin d'Autun, Secretary to the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta Philippe Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, in his work Insulae Melitae Descriptio.[25]

Around the 17th and 18th centuries, some breeders decided to "improve" the breed, by making it smaller still. Linnaeus wrote in 1792 that these dogs were about the size of a squirrel.[5][18] The breed nearly disappeared and was crossbred with other small dogs such as Poodles and miniature Spaniels. In the early 19th century, there were as many as nine different breeds of Maltese dog.[5]

Parti-colour and solid colour dogs were accepted in the show ring from 1902 until 1913 in England,[26] and as late as 1950 in Victoria, Australia.[27] However, white Maltese were required to be pure white. Coloured Maltese could be obtained from the south of France.[27]

Description[edit]

Maltese puppy outdoors

The Maltese had been recognized as a FCI breed under the patronage of Italy in 1954, at the annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland. The current FCI standard is dated November 27, 1989, and the latest translation from Italian to English is dated April 6, 1998. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1888, its latest standard being from March 10, 1964.

Appearance[edit]

Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome, a black button nose and brown eyes. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with (sometimes) long hair, and surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a "halo"), gives Maltese their expressive look. Lacking exposure to sunlight, 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.

Coat and color[edit]

The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. Maltese should have long silky coats. Some Maltese can have curly hair, but this is considered a fault.[28][29] The colour of the coat is pure white. A pale ivory tinge is permitted on the ears. In some standards, pure white coat with slight lemon markings are tolerated.[30]

Also, the Maltese has hair, not fur. It does not shed, and is a better choice for people with dog allergies.[31] Some people prefer to have the coat short. The most common cut for the Maltese is called the "puppy cut," which involves trimming or shaving the entire body to one short length (typically less than an inch long)

Size[edit]

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 5-8 lbs. There are variations depending on which standard is being used. Many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally less than 7 lbs. They stand normally 7-12 inches.

Temperament[edit]

Maltese indoors

Maltese are bred to be cuddly companion dogs. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, his energy level and playful demeanor remain fairly constant. Some Maltese may occasionally be snappish with smaller children and should be supervised when playing, although socializing them at a young age will reduce this habit. They also adore humans, and prefer to stay near them.[32] The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason, the breed also fares well in apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers.[33][34] Some Maltese may suffer from separation anxiety.[35]

An Australia-wide (not including Tasmania) research project carried out in conjunction with RSPCA found owners likely to dump their Maltese,[36] citing the tendency of Maltese to bark constantly.[36] This breed is Australia's most dumped dog.[37] In addition, figures released in 2010 by the Korean National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service show that some 1,208 Maltese were abandoned between January and August 2010, making it the most abandoned breed in Seoul, South Korea.[38]

Care[edit]

Two Maltese

Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives, the Poodles and Bichon Frisé, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese.[39] Daily cleaning is required to prevent the risk of tear-staining. Many owners find that a weekly bath is sufficient for keeping the coat clean, although it is recommended to not wash a dog so often, so washing your Maltese every three weeks is sufficient, although if the dog keeps clean even longer than that. They need to be professionally groomed about once every month and a half.

Regular grooming is also required to prevent the coats of non-shedding dogs from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut", a 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some owners, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long fur to keep it from matting and breaking off, and then to show the dog with the hair unwrapped combed out to its full length. Some Maltese need to be blow-dried in order to prevent mats because drying is ineffective to some dogs.

Maltese dogs can exhibit signs of tear staining[40] underneath the eyes. Dark staining in the hair around the eyes, "tear staining",[40] 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. To get rid of tear staining, a solution or powder can be specially made for tear stains, which can often be found in local pet stores. A fine-toothed metal pet comb, moistened with hot water and applied perhaps twice weekly, also works extremely well. The antibiotic, Cephalexin has been shown to completely clear up "tear staining" in some cases. Maltese are susceptible to "reverse sneezing", which sounds like a honking, snorting, or gagging sound and results often from over-excitement, play, allergies, or upon waking up. It is not life-threatening or dangerous—it will go away after about a minute.

They are ranked 59th out of 69 in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs.[41] which indexes obedience and the ability of a dog breed to follow commands, with very light focus on skills seen outside of working breeds, such as emotional intelligence.

Maltese tend to have many or several tooth problems usually resulting in cavities, without proper care the infected teeth may fall out as the dog gets older. Maltese might need additional care, and have their teeth brushed with soft-bristled toothbrush and special dog toothpaste every week to avoid tooth problems.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Davis, Peggy (translator) (1999-06-04). "Maltese". FCI standard No. 65. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  2. ^ "Maltese". Animal Planet dog breed directory. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  3. ^ a b c Drury, William (1903). British Dogs - Their Points, Selection, and Show Preparation. L. U. Gill. pp. 575–581. ISBN 978-1-4067-7606-5. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  4. ^ a b Lee, Rawdon Briggs (1894). A history and description of the modern dogs of Great Britain and Ireland. (Non-sporting division.). London: H. Cox. pp. 312–322. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Hyytinen, Iiris. "Maltese - A Mean Little Toy Dog". Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  6. ^ a b Cramer, John Anthony (1828). Geographical and Historical Description of Ancient Greece. Clarendon Press. pp. 45–46. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  7. ^ Leitch, Virginia T. (1953). The Maltese dog. Jon Vir kennels. 
  8. ^ Carno, Dennis; Virginia T. Leitch (1970). The Maltese Dog: A History of the Breed. International Institute of Veterinary Science. 
  9. ^ Maratona, Annamaria. "History and Origin of the Maltese Dog". Anna's Heavenly Maltese. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  10. ^ "A Vase painting of a Catuli Melitaei dog". hellenica.de. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  11. ^ Johnson, Helen M. (1919). "The Portrayal of the Dog on Greek Vases". The Classical World XII (27): 209–213. doi:10.2307/4387846. 
  12. ^ Busuttil, J. (1969). The Maltese Dog. Cambridge University Press. pp. 205–208. 
  13. ^ Aristotle; Giulio Cesare Scaligero and Johann Gottlob Schneider (1811). De animalibus historiae [History of Animals] X. In Bibliopolio Hahniano. p. 391. Retrieved 2009-04-14.  (Latin)
    Ictis autem est Melitaei catelli magnitudine; pilo autem et facie et candore ventris atque ciiain morum maleficio mustelae similis.
  14. ^ Raymond-Mallock, Lillian C. (2005) [1924]. The Up-to-date Toy Dog: History, Points and Standards, With Notes on Breeding and Showing. Read Books. pp. 72–74. ISBN 1-84664-069-5. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  15. ^ a b C. Plinius Secundus; Philemon Holland (translator, 1601). The Historie of the World. Book III. pp. 50–71. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  16. ^ a b c Wentworth (1911). Toy Dogs and Their Ancestors: Including the History and Management of Toy Spaniels, Pekingese, Japanese, and Pomeranians. Duckworth. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  17. ^ Unknown (September and December, 1815) [1699]. "An Answer to A Late Book Written against the Learned and Revered Dr. Bentley, relating to some Manuscript Notes on Callimachus". The Classical Journal (London: A. J. Valpy) XII: 373. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  18. ^ a b c Fulda, Joe (1995). Maltese: Everything about Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Breeding, Behavior, and Training. Barron's Educational Services. ISBN 0-8120-9332-1. Retrieved 2009-04-15. 
  19. ^ Jean Quintin d'Autun Insulae Melitae Descriptio, 1536, vii, "Huic insulae Strabo nobiles illos, adagio, non minus quam medicinis..."
  20. ^ Thomas Spencer Baynes, ed. (1890). "Malta". Encyclopædia Britannica 15 (9th ed.). The Henry G. Allen Company. pp. 339–343. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  21. ^ Serpell, James (1996). In the company of animals: a study of human-animal relationships. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57779-9. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  22. ^ Blarney, Edwin Reginald; Charles Topping Inglee; American Kennel Club (1949). The complete dog book. The care, handling, and feeding of dogs; and Pure bred dogs; the recognized breeds and standards. Garden City Publishing Co., inc. p. 622. 
  23. ^ Vioque, Guillermo Galán; J. J. Zoltowski, Martial (2002). Martial, book VII: a commentary. BRILL. p. 467. ISBN 90-04-12338-5. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  24. ^ Bryant, Jacob, Esq. (1807). A New system, or, An Analysis of Antient Mythology: Wherein an Attempt is Made to Divest Tradition of Fable and to Reduce the Truth to its Original Purity V (3rd ed.). London: J. Walker. p. 359. Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  25. ^ Jean Quintin d'Autun Insulae Melitae Descriptio (1536).
  26. ^ Foxstone Maltese - Maltese Breed History by Sharon Pearson, Eads, Colorado, member of the American Maltese Association, retrieved 2009-04-14
  27. ^ a b 'The Maltese of the Past' by Trudy Dalziel - Snowsheen Maltese (Maltese Kennel Club of Victoria, Australia) at maltese.com.au, retrieved 2009-04-14
  28. ^ "Maltese breed standard". AKC, American Kennel Clubb. Retrieved May 2014. 
  29. ^ The coat is single, that is, without undercoat. It hangs long, flat, and silky over the sides of the body almost, if not quite, to the ground. The long head-hair may be tied up in a topknot or it may be left hanging. Any suggestion of kinkiness, curliness, or woolly texture is objectionable. Color, pure white. Light lemon on the ears is permissible, but not desirable.
  30. ^ "Maltese; breed standard". Australian National Kennel Council. Retrieved May 2014. 
  31. ^ "Are Maltese Puppies Hypoallergenic?". VetInfo. Retrieved 6 October 2012. 
  32. ^ I Just Got a Puppy, What Do I Do? by Mordecai Siegal, Matthew Margolis, and Tara Darling, Simon and Schuster, 2002.
  33. ^ Planet dog: a doglopedia by Harry Choron, Houghton Mifflin, 2005.
  34. ^ Puppy Parenting: Everything You Need to Know About Your Puppy's First Year by Jan Greye, Gail Smith, and Beverly Beyette, Harper Collins, 2002.
  35. ^ Bianco, Jay. "Separation Anxiety". Maltese Only. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  36. ^ a b Dog Dumpage factsheets at Burke's Backyard done in conjunction with the RSPCA, Australia, 2004
  37. ^ Burke, Don. The Complete Burke's Backyard: The Ultimate Book of Fact Sheets, Murdoch Books, 2005, pp 831-832
  38. ^ "Maltese most abandoned dog in Seoul". The Korea Times. 4 October 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  39. ^ The Dog Selector, David Alderton, 2010, pg 59, IBSN 978-91-7401-2460, IBSN 0-7641-6365-5, IBSN 978-07-641-6365-4.
  40. ^ a b "Is There a Cure for Maltese Eye Stain?" from maltesemaniac.com, retrieved 2009-05-14
  41. ^ Coren, Stanley (2006). The Intelligence of Dogs. London: Pocket Books. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-4165-0287-6. 

External links[edit]