Wednesday, March 12, 2014
The Maltese is a dog breed with ancient and confusing origins. It was bestowed that name "Maltese" during the 19th century, but it actually dates back much farther-- possibly to Greek and Roman times!
Maltese Dogs have always been small. Today they weigh less than 10lbs and stand less than a foot tall. It is believed that their small size came from either Spitz breeds that were bred to be tinier than normal, or from Tibetan Terriers. Either way, by around 500BC there were depictions of Maltese-looking dogs in northern Italy. These dogs were mentioned by writers like Pliny and Strabo, and were said to come from a Mediterranean Island (of which Malta is one).
By the 1800s these dogs were very popular with the upper class, though years of crossing with other breeds led to nearly a dozen different varieties. An official breed club was established, and they were recognized by the AKC in 1888. Official standards came along with the formal recognition, and today all Maltese Dogs are white furred (in the past other colors, and even mixed color dogs were seen).
The Maltese has always been a companion breed, ever since its creation thousands of years ago. They are lively and playful, and do well in small home and apartments. They also do not posses an undercoat, and shed very little. For this reason they are popular with dog owners who suffer from allergies.
Status : Domesticated
Location : Central Europe
Size : Height up to 12in (30cm), Weight up to 10lbs (4.5kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Canidae -- Genus : Canis -- Species : C. lupus -- Subspecies : C. l. familiaris
Image : SheltieBoy