The Maltese is believed to be the oldest European Toy dog breed. Art objects dating back 3,000 years bear likenesses of the dainty little dogs. The Maltese was described in writings of 200 BC under the Latin name of Canis Melitaeus, which may refer to the island of Malta or to the Sicilian town of Melita. From early times, the breed appears to have been known and admired throughout Europe and often had its portrait painted as it lounged on the laps of aristocratic ladies. It was also well known in Britain at the time of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Some historians claim the breed was brought by Roman invaders while others theorize returning Crusaders brought the small charmers back as gifts for their ladies.
General Appearance: Should suggest a vigorous, well-balanced dog with a mantle of long white straight coat hanging evenly down each side.
Temperament: The Maltese is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs. They are intelligent, vigorous, very affectionate and seemingly fearless. Overaggressive or too timid behaviour is to be severely penalized.
Size: Weight under 7 lb. (3 kg) with from 4-6 lb. (2-2.7 kg) preferred. Overall quality is to be favoured over size.
Coat and Colour: Should be of good length, but not so as to impede action. The coat is single, that is, with no undercoat. It hangs flat, straight and silky on either side of the centre part, which should run from tip of nose to tip of tail. The texture should be even throughout with no suggestion of woolliness, curliness, or cosmetic alteration. The long head hair may be tied up in a single topknot or divided into two. White colour is preferred, but light beige or lemon markings are permissible.
Head and Skull: Head in proportion to the size of the dog. From stop to centre of the skull (centre being between forepart of the ears) and stop to tip of the nose should be equally balanced. The skull is slightly rounded, rather broad between the ears and moderately well defined at the temples. The stop is moderate. The muzzle is fine and slightly tapered, but not snipey, with a good firm underjaw. The nose is small, black, and in balance with the size of the eyes. Teeth may meet in an even edge to edge bite or in a scissors bite. The lips should be black. Eyes should be dark brown with black eye rims. Halos of pigmentation around the eyes gives a more beautiful expression. The shape is not quite round but not almond shaped, and their size should be in proportion to the size of the face, there should be no suggestion of bulging or prominence and the expression should be gentle but very alert. Ears should be low set, the hair long and well feathered and hanging close to the side of the head, the hair to be mingled with the coat at the neck and shoulders.
Neck: Of sufficient length and proportion to the body to give a high carriage of head.
Forequarters: The shoulder blades are sloping at an approximate 45 degree angle, elbows are well knit and held close to the body. Forelegs are straight, their pastern joints well knit and devoid of appreciable bend. The feet should be round and small. Pads of the feet are black. The hair around the feet may be trimmed to give a neater appearance.
Body: Should be in every way balanced. The dog should be compact, with the height from the withers to the ground to equal the length from the withers to the root of the tail. The topline should be straight and level from the tip of the shoulders to the root of the tail. Ribs should be well sprung, chest fairly deep, at least to the elbows, the loins taut, strong and well tucked up underneath.
Hindquarters: Legs are fine boned and nicely feathered. Hind legs are strong and moderately angulated at the stifles and hock. The hock is straight, turning neither in nor out.
Tail: Is set high and should be long haired and carried well arched over the back with the tip resting on the hindquarter on either side.
Gait: The gait should be smooth and flowing without weaving. In stride the forelegs reach forward, straight and free from the shoulders, elbows close. The hind legs move in a straight line with good driving action. The topline is level, head held high and tail carried gracefully over the back resting on the hindquarters.
Link: The Maltese club – Founded 1934