| The Maltese is an aristocrat of the canine world.
It's believed that the Maltese came from the Island of Malta. (Malta was occupied by the
Phoenicians from 1450 - 732 B.C. and then taken over by the Greeks. The Greeks erected
tombs to their Maltese dogs.)
Maltese dogs have always existed to please their owners. They are the gentlest mannered of
all small dogs. The Tibetan terrier of today closely resembles the Maltese dog more than
any other known breed. By the middle of the 19th century, the Maltese, as it is known
today, seems to have been fairly well established all over Europe.
The Maltese dog has been classified
as a terrier, even though today many regard the Maltese dog as a spaniel. For instance,
some naturalists classify the Maltese as a spaniel, which is usually black, but sometimes
white. Whatever may be one's individual opinion in the matter, the question has been
settled by the decision, not only of the American Kennel Club but also of the English
Kennel Club, that the Maltese is neither a terrier nor a spaniel; it's a "toy"
dog. The correct designation of the breed is the "Maltese Dog."
It is interesting to note that the
Maltese was originally bred in a color other than white. The all white version
eventually became the favored choice of dog, and was perpetuated during the last century.
When Maltese dogs were exhibited in
the United States many years ago, they were listed as the "Maltese Lion Dog" or
"Le Chien Lion." They were also known as the "Maltese Skye Terrier."
Before then, they were called the "Shock Dog."
The first known Maltese dog in the United States, called Leo, was shown at
the Westminster Kennel Club in New York, on April 8 - 11, 1879. In dog shows, Maltese dogs
were originally placed in the "Non Sporting Group," but later moved to the
"Toy Group." The Maltese was accepted for registration as a dog breed in 1888.
Many Maltese dogs have been imported
from Great Britain, Canada, Germany, France, and Italy over the years. They've all
contributed to the quality of the American bred Maltese dog and their enviable record in
the show ring. The Maltese's prominence in show rings is due to the improvement of the
breed and their growing familiarity among the public.
Because of their small size, the
Maltese dog is a good choice for most people, whether they live in an apartment or house.
It's a wonderful, loving animal that's sure to bring its owner years of joy.