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In spite of his delicate appearance, the Maltese is a tough little dog with few health problems.
Many small breed dogs suffer from the simple fact that their 42 adult teeth don't have adequate room to fit in the mouth.
If your young Maltese isn't growing properly and appears undersized even for a small breed, liver shunt may be the cause. Your dog's kneecap may come out of its socket, a common problem in small dogs called luxating patella. Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing.
Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blase attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello.
Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate.
Throughout his long history, the Maltese has been given many names, such as the "Melitae Dog," "Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta," the "Roman Ladies Dog," "The Comforter," the "Spaniel Gentle," the "Bichon," the "Maltese Lion Dog," and the "Maltese Terrier." Today, he is known simply as the Maltese. No breed is perfect, and Maltese sometimes are intolerant of small children or other dogs, especially if they have been overly pampered by their people. Even tolerant Maltese are not a good choice for families with small children, however, because they are so small and can be easily injured.
If your Maltese has long hair, he can get sunburned on the skin where the hair is parted on the back. Because of their small size and delicate structure, Maltese generally aren't recommended for households with toddlers or small children.
To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store.
HistoryThe Maltese dog is one of the most ancient of the toy breeds, with a history that can be traced back at least two millennia. Although he survived the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages, the Maltese was nearly destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries when attempts were made to breed him to be the size of a squirrel. SizeThe compact Maltese should weigh no more than seven pounds at maturity, with four to six pounds being preferred.
Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.
Like every dog, the Maltese needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young.
HealthMaltese are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions.
If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents.
Collapsed trachea: Some dogs are prone to this condition, in which the trachea, which carries air to the lungs, tends to collapse easily. As a rule of thumb, wait until your Maltese puppy is 8 months old to walk very far with him, because his bones are still developing.
Keep your Maltese from getting fat by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day instead of leaving food out all the time. Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. For more on feeding your Maltese, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog. Coat Color And GroomingThe stunning Maltese coat is pure white, silky, and straight, reaching all the way to the ground.
If your Maltese has long hair and develops mats, first try to work out the mat gently with your fingers, using a detangler spray or a coat conditioning oil. Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. Clean the eyes daily with warm water to prevent tear stains, and wash your Maltese's beard after meals. While there are many products on the market to whiten your dog's hair, be very careful if using them or any home remedies. Many people put the hair on the top of their Maltese's head into a topknot to keep it away from the eyes. Brush your Maltese's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it.
If you notice that your Maltese's cute black nose is turning pink, he might not be getting enough sunshine.
Children And Other PetsMost Maltese breeders will not sell puppies to families with young children. Maltese can get along with other dogs and cats if they are socialized to them at an early age. With shoe-button eyes framed by a glistening coat of silky white, the Maltese has earned enduring popularity by combining cute with a lively, bright, and bold personality. Dogs that tend to be more sturdy, playful and easygoing around children and more tolerant of children's behavior.
The sweet little Maltese is a favorite of celebrities, including Halle Berry, Heather Locklear, and Eva Longoria. The small, spunky Maltese is known for retaining his puppy-like attitude throughout his life. While the Maltese's happy, courageous natures make him a wonderful pet for many, this may not be the right dog for families with young children. This is also the wrong breed for someone who wants the look of a show dog with little effort.
Known as the Melitaie to the Greeks and Romans, these little white dogs were popular as trade goods in ancient times. All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease.


Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. As you comb or brush your Maltese, spray the coat with a mixture of coat conditioner diluted with water. If all of this sounds like too much work, take your Maltese to a professional groomer who can give the coat the care it needs or trim it into an easy-care puppy clip that you can manage at home. Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind. Find a breeder who is a member in good standing of the American Maltese Association (AMA), and who has agreed to abide by the AMA's code of ethics, which specifically prohibits selling puppies through retail outlets such as pet stores.
The cost of a Maltese puppy varies depending on his place of origin, whether he is male or female, what titles his parents have, and whether he is best suited for the show ring or a pet home. Before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Maltese might better suit your needs and lifestyle. There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. The great thing about breed rescue groups is that they tend to be very upfront about any health conditions the dogs may have and are a valuable resource for advice. Wherever you acquire your Maltese, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides.
However, certain issues crop up with all purebred canines, and the Maltese is no exception. In this condition, the dog's circulatory system doesn't develop correctly, affecting the liver. Keeping your dog at an appropriate weight can avoid this problem, as obesity affects the joints. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine.
An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.
Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.
However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.
Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.
This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people.
When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.
Like all dogs, they must be taught their place in your home, and require proper socialization and basic obedience training. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
Artists, poets, and writers immortalized this small dog in the early great cultures of Greece, Rome, and Egypt.
Many believe the breed was developed in the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea from Spitz- or Spaniel-type dogs.
After this nearly disastrous experiment, breeders mixed poodles, miniature spaniels, and East Asian miniature dogs with the breed to save it. A Maltese that weighs less than four pounds at maturity is more prone to genetic disorders and is at a higher health risk in general. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills. Not all Maltese will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. Reverse sneezing primarily occurs when your dog is excited or tries to eat or drink too fast.
Many people paper train their Maltese so they don't have to take them outdoors when the weather is too hot or cold. Maltese don't have the undercoat typical to many breeds and don't shed much.On the down side, Maltese coats mat easily and become dirty. Water that has a high mineral content can cause staining, so consider purchasing purified bottled water for your Maltese.
Your Maltese could have clogged tear ducts, allergies, or other health problems that are causing the excessive tearing. Many of them can damage your dog's hair, and never, never allow any products or foreign substances to get in your dogs' eyes. It's just too easy for a toddler to injure a tiny Maltese by dropping him, stepping on him, or holding him too tightly. They're unaware of their tiny size, however, and must be protected from taking on dogs that are ten or twenty times their size.
Maltese pack a lot of love into their tiny bodies, and are never happier than when cuddling in their owners' laps. Resist the impulse to simply carry them everywhere and pluck them out of trouble, and let your dog be a dog. Maltese are tiny and can easily be injured if play is too rough, or they may snap at a child in self-defense if frightened or hurt. Maltese with this condition will start trembling uncontrollably, especially when they try to move or get up.
Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live a good life. The Maltese has a silky single white coat that should be groomed daily with a pin brush or a stainless steel comb to prevent or remove any mats and tangles.
A good breeder will match you with the right puppy, and will without question have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as is possible. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the breed, explain why one puppy is considered pet quality while another is not, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems. Choose a breeder who is not only willing but insists on being a resource in helping you train and care for your new dog.
Extremely tiny dogs in particular are often plagued with severe health problems and rarely live a normal lifespan.
Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations.


Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dog of your dreams.
The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Malteses available on Petfinder across the country). Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Maltese home with you to see what the experience is like. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
This is a sprightly, vigorous dog who excels not only as a companion but also as a therapy dog and competitor in such dog sports as agility, obedience, rally, and tracking. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.
If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.
Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality.
Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.
Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard.
Because they have a long history as companion dogs, Maltese require a lot of human attention and suffer from separation anxiety. If your Maltese is showing discomfort when eating or after eating, take him to the vet for a checkup. Others believe he was developed in Italy, and still others believe that he was originally from Asia and had a part in developing many of the smaller Asian dogs.
Maltese are one of the most popular breeds among spectators at dog shows, and frequently win the Toy Group. If your dog is susceptible to this, talk to your vet about prevention and treatment options.
Episodes usually start when the dog is six months to three years old and is stressed or overly excited.
It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. Beautiful though they may be, Maltese become dirty easily and usually must be bathed weekly. Never try to pull the entire mat out at once with the comb or brush, and make sure all mats are removed prior to bathing your Maltese as mats tend to get tighter when wet. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out.
Whatever you want from a Maltese, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines. As adults, the tracheal cartilage of some tiny dogs can weaken, causing narrowing of the main airway.
Maltese who are allowed to become matted will probably need to be trimmed short because it will be too painful to comb or brush out the mats. An adult Maltese may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive and demanding than a puppy. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances.
These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs.
Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility. The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese dogs, while representations of Maltese-like dogs on Egyptian artifacts suggest that they were prized by that ancient culture. By the end of the 16th century, the Maltese had become a favorite pet for noble and royal ladies. It is thought by many that Maltese are the direct ancestors of the Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Havanese breeds.
A reputable breeder will have dogs' eyes certified annually by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Secretions from the dog's nose drop onto their soft palate, causing it to close over the windpipe in an automatic reaction.
The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Maltese rescue. This can cause difficulty breathing and makes it difficult for the dog to wear any kind of collar.
Some dogs with shaker dog syndrome respond to short-term treatment, whereas others may need medication for the rest of their lives to control the problem. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying. Because he doesn't have an undercoat, the Maltese sheds little, and many people consider the breed to be hypoallergenic.
Wherever he lives, the Maltese is responsive to his environment and makes an effective watchdog.
The Egyptians and, centuries later, many Europeans, thought that the Maltese had the ability to cure people of disease and would place one on the pillow of an ill person. The little dog was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria. If you suspect your Maltese has White Dog Shaker Syndrome, talk to your vet about treatment options. This can be very frightening to your Maltese, but as soon as he calms down, the reverse sneezing stops. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. Numerous painters, including Goya and Sir Joshua Reynolds, included these small dogs in their portraits of beautiful women.



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