Draped in long, silky white hair that would make nearly anyone jealous (Dumbledore included, and he’s got the lushest locks of them all), the Maltese is a gentle, affectionate breed that makes the perfect companion for those looking for a petite pet.
They may be small in stature—they do fall under the “toy” category and can technically be carried in a purse, after all—but their fearless personalities are anything but. With a lively, loving demeanor and an energetic, playful side, there are endless reasons the Maltese is one of the most beloved dogs of all time.
The Maltese breed hails from Malta, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, and has been around since ancient times dating back as far as 500 BC. In fact, Aristotle was the first to reference the dog, calling the Maltese the “Canis Melitaeus.”
The Maltese has picked up a number of nicknames along the way, including the “Roman Ladies’ Dog,” the “Maltese Lion Dog,” and “Cokie,” which originated on the East Coast in the 1960s.
The first thing people notice about the Maltese are its pocket-perfect size and silky, white coat. While one might assume that a dog with such long hair would shed, in fact the opposite is true: The Maltese doesn’t have an undercoat and doesn’t shed, making it the ideal choice for pet parents who suffer from allergies or simply people who’d rather not deal with lint rolling their clothes—or furniture!—every five minutes. (Can’t win ’em all, folks.)
While the Maltese can certainly grow its hair to be insanely long, most owners opt for what’s called the “puppy cut,” which is a cropped, fluffy cut that’s much easier to maintain.
The Maltese’s furry little face is defined by a black button nose, big brown eyes, floppy ears, and dark skin around the eyes, which are referred to as a “halo.” If your furry friend stays indoors during the winter and doesn’t get a lot of sunlight, his nose might fade to a flesh-colored pink or light brown, then darken back to black during the sunny months.
If your dog is getting a lot of sunlight, be warned: If they have long, parted hair, their scalp can get sunburned just like a human, so practice sun safety!
One of the reasons the Maltese is so loved (besides their incredible personalities, of course) is their teacup-esque stature.
Averaging just seven pounds and standing shorter than a foot, the Maltese is the perfect lap dog and is easily transported (a definite bonus for those of you with take-your-dog-to-work privileges).
In true fearless fashion, Maltese don’t think twice about befriending anyone and are quick to make new pals.
Because of his positive, people-oriented nature, the Maltese is eager to please and responds well to training through reinforcements such as treats or a good ol’ petting.
Like any dog, training and socializing the Maltese from an early age will help him grow into a sweet, curious, and playful furry friend. And they will win over the hardest of hearts—it seems like all they ever want to do is love on people.