Maltese Breed Origins and Caracteristics
This ancient breed was already mentioned by Plinio and Aristotle. Some experts think that it was named after Canis melitensis, because it seemed to come from the Dalmatian island of Malitaea, current Mljet, in Yugoslavia. About the 16th century, this dog receives the name of Maltese or Maltese wool dog although it did not have anything to do with the Malta. This dog is of small size and it has already appeared in amphoras and paintings of Ancient times. It was the lap dog of Roman and Athenian women who decorated it with jewels and Julio Caesar reproached women who preferredto children.
The Maltese is affectionate, intelligent and a good companion, but it likes to bark. Its hair needs to be combed and groomed daily.
The curly haired Maltese is a close relative of the Maltese. It came to France in the 15th century coming from the Baleares and it was called "Bichon Maltais" and "Tenerife". The ladies adopted it quickly and because of the care that they received gave birth to the term "bichonner" which in French means to curl hair or pay extreme care.
Although the Small lion dog is considered by the FCI as a French breed, it is known that at the end of the 16th century it lived with Flemish people. Because of its body and limbs it looks more like a poodle than a Maltese. Nowadays it is rare to find it.
Maltese (1). Size: male 21-25 cm; female 20-23 cm. Weight: 3-4 kg. Colors: pure white, with a pink skin that is watched through the hair since it lacks of an internal layer of hair. On the head the hair is longer, it reaches 22-30 cm (it may be held with a ribbon); on the back a natural line is formed. The texture of the hair is flexible and silky. The nose, the border of the eyelids, the soles of the feet and the nails must be black and the eyes dark ocher.
Curly haired Maltese (2). Size: maximum 28 cm. Weight: up to 4 kg. Color: white a darker color is always accepted provided that the pigmentation is not too dark.
Small lion dog (3). Size: 25 cm. Weight: 2.5-3 kg. Colors: if it is possible pure white, lemon yellow or black but other colors are accepted. The hair is cut to look like a lion.