The 'Royal' Maltese - What You Need to Know About Your Silky Canine Friend
Although many have seen pictures of the gentle, playful, yet aristocratic-looking Maltese, the standard requirements in terms of appearance and temperament of this breed is a mystery to many people. This article will provide you with the information you need to know before you open your home and heart to this highly intelligent and affectionate member of the canine family.
According to the American Kennel Club, Maltese dogs definitely fall in the small toy range, but one would be foolish to think they are delicate animals. As a matter of fact, the Maltese dog is quite sturdy, with a compact body and a deep chest. The eyes of the standard Maltese are black with dark rims, and they have feathery ears that hang low on their heads, providing a frame for their delicate faces. One of the defining characteristics of a Maltese dog is his or her silky fur, which is typically white or ivory and is always straight.
How Does a Maltese Dog Behave?
Maltese dogs are a lot of fun to have around, as they are bursting with energy and fantastic at learning new games and tricks. The Maltese is a highly intelligent dog, and makes a wonderful and loyal companion. However, this intelligence goes hand in hand with stubbornness, and they can be difficult to housebreak. It's also important to remember small dogs such as the Maltese are subject to developing their own “Napoleon complexes,” where, despite their size, they overcompensate by ruling the roost! All dogs need to know where their place is in the pack, and that their human is their leader. The Maltese dog should be given the same standard of care and discipline of any other dog to ensure that they become great house pets.
How Do I Care For a Maltese?
Maltese dogs should be brushed on a daily basis, because their long, silky hair is subject to matting. Aside from this, Maltese dogs are relatively low-maintenance compared to other long-haired breeds. Teeth should be brushed at least once a week, and dogs will need baths either weekly or bi-weekly.
Where Does the Maltese Dog Come From?
The Maltese dog has an ancient lineage and a royal pedigree, if you will. Known as “Ye ancient dogge of Malta,” the Maltese was a favorite among royalty all over the world. According to the American Kennel Club, the Maltese dog has always been the size that is today, and usually carried a hefty price tag. The breed originated in Italy and was recognized as a breed in Malta, hence its name. So how did the Maltese make its way to America, you may ask? The Maltese migrated to England during the Crusades, and eventually found their way over here when the Europeans crossed the Atlantic and discovered America. The Maltese dog has been recognized as a standard breed by the AKC since 1888, according to its website.
Health Concerns Regarding Maltese Dogs
Unfortunately, there are several health problems that commonly afflict the Maltese, but a careful and diligent owner can offset the likelihood of his or her dog suffering from them. Maltese dogs have a tendency to lick excessively, which can affect the color of their coat. This may be less of an issue with a darker dog, but since the Maltese is light in coloring, its white coat may eventually turn an unpleasant shade of pink. Fortunately for the Maltese owner, there are a variety of products on the market to help deter Maltese dogs from over grooming. Maltese dogs also have a tendency to tear up, which results in tear stains that compromise the attractiveness of their coats. However, there are effective treatments for this problem that can be provided by your veterinarian.
Knee problems also tend plague small dogs such as the Maltese, so they should be checked regularly by a veterinarian and fed a health diet so they do not become obese, which would worsen the impact of any joint problems.
The Maltese also require meticulous dental hygiene, because, like other small dogs, they tend to lose their teeth at an early age. In addition to frequent brushing, their owners should encourage them to chew on nylon bones and other devices to clean their teeth.
Maltese dogs are also more likely to have eye problems than many other dogs, due to their long hair. Many fall victim to conjunctivitis, so it's important that they we groomed on a regular basis and have routine checkups at the vet's office. Eye ulcers are also a scourge on the Maltese, but if quickly treated with prescription eye drops, they are usually manageable and result in no long-term damage.
Perhaps one of the most common problems among small dogs such as the Maltese that may or may not indicate a serious health condition is sneezing and honking. Although it may sound like these dogs are having trouble breathing, the behavior is often harmless. However, in rarer instances it can be a sign of an abnormality involving the dog's trachea, so it's important for owners to take their dog for a check-up.