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Maltese groomed with overcoat
|Common nicknames||Sleeve Dog|
|Domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris)|
The Maltese is a breed of dog in the toy group. Historically the breed name and origins were thought to have derived from Malta, however more recently they are thought to have originated in south-central Europe from spitz-type dogs.
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. Parti-colour and solid colour dogs were accepted in the show ring from 1902 until 1913 in England, and as late as 1950 in Victoria, Australia. However, white Maltese were required to be pure white. Coloured Maltese could be obtained from the south of France.
Little is known about the origin and spread of the Maltese dog. It probably did not originate from the island of Malta, the town of Melita in Italy, nor the island of Melita in the Adriatic, but from spitz-type dogs in south-central Europe, where it may at first have resembled the modern Pomeranian.
The Maltese dog was a lapdog favoured by both the ancient Greeks and Romans, especially their children, and appears on amphora with the word Μελιταιε (Melitaie). References to the dog can also be found in Ancient Greek and Roman literature. Aristotle mentions the dog around 370 BC. Early writers attribute its origin to Melita, however there were two islands named Melita at that time with one being in the Mediterranean and the other being in the Adriatic sea near Dalmatia, which confuses where the dog originated from. Strabo wrote about the Canes Melitei that came not from Malta but from a town named Melita in Sicily, which is in contrast to English writers who give Malta as the place of origin but without any proof.
Pliny suggests the dog as having taken its name from the Adriatic island Méléda,[page needed] however Strabo, in the early first century AD, identifies the breed as originating from the Mediterranean island of Malta.
During the first century, the Roman poet Martial wrote descriptive verses to a lap dog named "Issa" owned by his friend Publius. It is proposed that Issa was a Maltese dog, and various sources link Martial's friend Publius with the Roman Governor Publius of Malta, though others do not identify him.
John Caius, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, also claimed that Callimachus was referring to the island of Melita "in the Sicilian strait" (Malta).[page needed] This claim is often repeated, especially by English writers. 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.
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 and the tail is almost always curled. The drop ears with (sometimes) long hair, and eyes surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a "halo"), gives Maltese their expressive look. Lacking exposure to a lot of 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. The Maltese's paws are very sensitive to touch.
The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. Some Maltese can have curly hair (especially behind their ears), but this is considered a fault. The colour of the coat is pure white. A pale ivory tinge is permitted on the ears. In some standards, a pure white coat with slight lemon markings is tolerated.
The Maltese does not shed, and is therefore a good choice for people with dog allergies. They can exhibit signs of tear-staining. Some people prefer their dogs to have the coat short, clipped to a few centimetres in length.
Adult Maltese range from roughly 1.4 to 4.5 kg (3 to 10 lb). The international FCI standard specifies a weight of 3–4 kg (6.6–8.8 lb); the American Kennel Club calls for a somewhat lighter weight of 4–7 lb (1.8–3.2 kg), with 4–6 lb (1.8–2.7 kg) preferred, They are usually 18 to 30 cm (7 to 12 in) tall.
As per the AKC standard: The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth, flowing gait. Viewed from the side, they give an impression of rapid movement, size considered. In the stride, the forelegs reach straight and free from the shoulders, with elbows close. Hind legs to move in a straight line. Cowhocks or any suggestion of hind leg toeing in or out are faults.
Maltese are bred to be companion dogs. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, its 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. 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. Some Maltese may suffer from separation anxiety. They are ranked 59th of 79 breeds assessed for intelligence by Stanley Coren.
In 2004, an Australia-wide (not including Tasmania) research project carried out in conjunction with the RSPCA found Maltese owners were the most likely to surrender their dogs to a shelter, citing the tendency of Maltese to bark constantly, and were Australia's most abandoned dog breed. Data released in 2010 by the Korean National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service show 1,208 Maltese abandoned between January and August 2010, making it the most abandoned breed in Seoul, South Korea.
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- 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. Maltese are a pure white, yet sometimes dull gold fur will grow behind their ears and on their back. Light lemon on the ears is permissible, but not desirable.
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