Maltese.jpg
Breed Group Group 12: Companion and Toy Breeds
Sub-group 12-C: European and African Breeds
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 6-9 pounds. Females: 6-9 pounds.
Height Males: 8-10 inches. Females: 7-9 inches.
Other Name(s) Bichon Maltais, Bichon Maltese
Breed Type Pure
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Maltese

Breed Group Group 12: Companion and Toy Breeds
Sub-group 12-C: European and African Breeds
Origin Country Italy
Weight Males: 6-9 pounds. Females: 6-9 pounds.
Height Males: 8-10 inches. Females: 7-9 inches.
Other Name(s) Bichon Maltais, Bichon Maltese
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

The Maltese is an ancient breed of the bichon family, with bichon being the Middle French word meaning “small long-haired lapdog.” The exact origin of this delightful breed remains a mystery, but it is believed to have originated in the central Mediterranean, Sicily, Egypt, and various parts of Europe. However, the island republic of Malta is where the breed draws its namesake. The name Malta is believed to have been derived from the Phoenician word for “a haven.”

It is largely believed by breed historians that the ancestors of the Maltese breed were brought to the islands of Malta via Phoenician trade routes. These dogs were often described as small and mostly white, with shaggy or long coats. As far back as 1000 BCE, the Phoenicians used the island as a stopover on their trade routes between various parts of the Mediterranean and Cornwall. History shows that small white dogs were used to keep the Phoenician trade ships free of vermin, in addition to serving as companions to the sailors and the land-dwelling natives. The little dogs grew in popularity to the point that they were kept as lap or sleeve dogs by wealthy aristocrats and even the Roman Governor, Publius.

Trade and the invasions of other empires brought the Maltese out from the island of Malta into the world, where demand for the small, white lapdogs only increased. Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Mary of the Scots were both avid lovers of the little dogs. The original breed was bred throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. However, by the 19th century, breed enthusiasts decided that it was time to “fix” the little dogs into a proper breed. To reach an even more diminutive size, they were bred to ancestors of today’s Bichon Frise, Poodles, and small spaniels. Originally occurring in any color up until 1954, the standard now requires the coat be solid white. Today, the little Maltese is one of the most well-recognized breeds of dog in the world. He is well-known for his luxurious long coat and endearing personality.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Mesaticephalic skull type, moderate in size, and rather broad, with the width across the top of the skull (measured in front of the ears) being equal to or just greater than the length. The length of the head (from tip of nose to occiput) is equal in length to the distance from the base of the skull to the withers. It is always in proportion to the rest of the body. In profile, the head is slightly domed, more so toward the front, giving the skull an egg shape. The occiput is slightly developed. The brow is well-developed. A slight median furrow starting at the stop and disappearing toward the occiput may or may not be visible. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Bright, moderate in size, open oval to round in shape, and as dark in color as possible. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size and set high on the skull with the fold falling level with, or slightly above, the plane of the skull. The shape is drop or buttoned, broad at the base, and V-shaped.
Muzzle: Moderate length, full, and broad. The depth of the muzzle, measured from top plane to the bottom plane at the base, is approximately 20 percent of the muzzle length. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed and equal in length, never appearing snipy or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented, preferably black. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage. The neck is strongly muscled with a slight arch and tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Small, oval to round, and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, usually high above the topline and gracefully over the back. It forms a large single curve with the tip falling between the haunches and croup, or to either side of the back. It can also be carried level with the back, or any position higher, but never tucked. The tail is of moderate length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.
Movement: The movement of the Maltese is smooth, flowing, quick, and jaunty. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Maltese is a lively, fearless, trusting, loyal, responsive, and affectionate companion. Unlike other small companion and terrier breeds, the Maltese is well-known for being calm, gentle, and amiable with other dogs and small animals. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 12: Companion and Toy Breeds

Proportions: Rectangular in proportion, with the length of the body measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being just slightly greater than the height at the withers (by no more than 33%). The distance from the withers to the tail is equal to the distance from the withers to the ground. The Maltese should never appear low-slung or square in proportion. The body is well put together, with sturdy substance and medium bone.

Head

General Appearance: Mesaticephalic skull type, moderate in size, and rather broad, with the width across the top of the skull (measured in front of the ears) being equal to or just greater than the length. The length of the head (from tip of nose to occiput) is equal in length to the distance from the base of the skull to the withers. It is always in proportion to the rest of the body. In profile, the head is slightly domed, more so toward the front, giving the skull an egg shape. The occiput is slightly developed. The brow is well-developed. A slight median furrow starting at the stop and disappearing toward the occiput may or may not be visible. The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Intelligent, lively, alert, and welcoming.
Stop: The stop is definite, preferably forming a 90-degree angle between the topskull and muzzle.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 3:2, with the topskull being just longer than the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is slightly convergent.
Muzzle: Moderate length, full, and broad. The depth of the muzzle, measured from top plane to the bottom plane at the base, is approximately 20 percent of the muzzle length. Upper and lower jaws have good bone substance, appearing strong and well-developed and equal in length, never appearing snipy or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are well-pigmented, black, clean, and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented, preferably black. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks are smoothly muscled, and should not appear chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors.
Eyes: Bright, moderate in size, open oval to round in shape, and as dark in color as possible. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Medium in size and set high on the skull with the fold falling level with, or slightly above, the plane of the skull. The shape is drop or buttoned, broad at the base, and V-shaped.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length allows for proud head carriage. The neck is strongly muscled with a slight arch and tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Straight and may be level from withers to croup, or the withers may be slightly prominent. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, flat, and level. The back is never short, swayed, or roached.
Croup: Flat and level with the back, or gently sloped.
Underline: Slight tuck-up present. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, usually high above the topline and gracefully over the back. It forms a large single curve with the tip falling between the haunches and croup, or to either side of the back. It can also be carried level with the back, or any position higher, but never tucked. The tail is of moderate length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, of moderate bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Small, oval to round, and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Long, straight, dense, glossy, silky, single coat (without undercoat). Never with traces of waves or curls. Length of coat on body should exceed the dog's height at the withers.
Coat Color or Pattern: Pale ivory white to pure white, with or without minimal traces of pale cream shades with black points. Light tan, pale orange, biscuit, or lemon on the ears is permissible. Never with patches of color on the tail, body, limbs, or face.

Movement

The movement of the Maltese is smooth, flowing, quick, and jaunty. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Maltese is a lively, fearless, trusting, loyal, responsive, and affectionate companion. Unlike other small companion and terrier breeds, the Maltese is well-known for being calm, gentle, and amiable with other dogs and small animals. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.