Illustration of Maltese

In view of his island origin, the Maltese is likely to have been a pure breed for many years. Small dogs of the type have been known around the Mediterranean for centuries and, as with many breeds, were traded by the Phoenicians as they sailed from country to country. There is evidence that the breed was in Malta in Roman times and the dogs were bred as pets, both as lap dogs and ‘sleeve’ dogs, carried in the coat sleeve.

One of the sweetest of the Toy breeds, the Maltese needs a lot of attention to keep his long, soft, silky coat in immaculate condition. Much of his beauty comes from the stark contrast of his dark eyes with their black rims, and black nose against his pure white coat. To achieve the correct expression, the head must be equally balanced from stop to occiput, and stop to tip of nose.

His temperament is merry and friendly, and he is very bright and intelligent. A lively little dog, full of fun, who belies his chocolate-box appearance.

Breed Group
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 30 minutes per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
Every day
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Minimum Garden Size
Over 12 Years

* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.

The Toy Breed Group

The Toy breeds are small companion or lap dogs. Many of the Toy breeds were bred for this capacity although some have been placed into this category simply due to their size. They should have friendly personalities and love attention. They do not need a large amount of exercise and some can be finicky eaters.

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