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» History and Standard
History and Standard of the Maltese dog  

Maltese History.


Quick History of the Maltese

Maltese have always simplified elegance and beauty and can be traced back many centuries.  Many believe that the Maltese originated on the isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.  It is argued that the Maltese actually originated in Asia. Dogs resembling the Maltese have been found in writings and ancient drawings from as early as 5000-2000 B.C.  The isle of Malta was a center of early trade and explorers found ancestors of the Maltese left there as barter for necessities and supplies. 

References to the Maltese are made in early European writings and were favorites of the Greeks and Romans.  Ancient Europeans long believed that the Maltese came from one of the islands off the coast of Sicily.  Known then as Melita, geographers eventually agreed to the name Malta.  The Maltese is one of few breeds to have retained its name from its known origin.

Maltese were favorites in the time of Queen Elizabeth I but were imported into Britain during the reign of Henry VIII.  Many Maltese in the U.S. can be traced back to English imports and were first seen in the United States around the late 1800s.  Maltese lines in the U.S. today resulted from the importation of the breed from Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany and Italy.  Members of the breed participated in early versions of the Westminister Kennel Club shows in the 1870s.  Maltese first appeared in registrations in 1888, when "Snips" and "Topsy" appeared in the studbooks.

In 1906, the first club for Maltese, the Maltese Terrier Club of America was organized.  By 1917 the club was known as the National Maltese Club, which later became the Maltese Dog Club of America.  In 1961, the Maltese Dog Club of America merged with the Maltese Fanciers of America.  These two organizations formed the American Maltese Association.  One of the first tasks of the AMA was to ratify and submit to the American Kennel Club a new standard for the Maltese.   This standard was approved by the AKC in 1964 and is the standard still in use today. 

As of recent the breed ranks in the top 15 of all breeds with more than 12,000 Maltese registered annually. 

Maltese Standard.

Breed Standard

General Appearance
The Maltese is a toy dog covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. He is gentle-mannered and affectionate, eager and sprightly in action, and, despite his size, possessed of the vigor needed for the satisfactory companion.

Of medium length and in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull is slightly rounded on top, the stop moderate. The drop ears are rather low set and heavily feathered with long hair that hangs close to the head. Eyes are set not too far apart; they are very dark and round, their black rims enhancing the gentle yet alert expression. The muzzle is of medium length, fine and tapered but not snipy.The nose is black. The teeth meet in an even, edge-to-edge bite, or in a scissors bite.

Sufficient length of neck is desirable as promoting a high carriage of the head.

Compact, the height from the withers to the ground equaling the length from the withers to the root of the tail. Shoulder blades are sloping, the elbows well knit and held close to the body. The back is level in topline, the ribs well sprung. The chest is fairly deep, the loins taut, strong, and just slightly tucked up underneath.

A long-haired plume carried gracefully over the back, its tip lying to the side over the quarter.

Legs and Feet
Legs are fine-boned and nicely feathered. Forelegs are straight, their pastern joints well knit and devoid of appreciable bend. Hind legs are strong and moderately angulated at stifles and hocks. The feet are small and round, with toe pads black. Scraggly hairs on the feet may be trimmed to give a neater appearance.

Coat and Color
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 tan or lemon on the ears is permissible, but not desirable.

Weight under 7 pounds, with from 4 to 6 pounds preferred. Overall quality is to be favored over size.

The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth, flowing gait. Viewed from the side, he gives 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.

For all his diminutive size, the Maltese seems to be without fear. His trust and affectionate responsiveness are very appealing. He is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet he is lively and playful as well as vigorous.
Approved March 10, 1964  ©American Kennel Club

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