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Maltese standing on a park bench in the city.
Sergey Lavrentev/Shutterstock

The glamorous Maltese has been a companion to humans for centuries. This tiny dog is good-looking, charming, and adaptable enough to continue winning hearts…and spaces in human laps. Learn more Maltese facts to get to know this fascinating dog even better.

1. Saint Paul Was Reportedly Given a Maltese

According to legend, St. Paul was given a Maltese after he was shipwrecked on Malta. Why? He reportedly healed the father of the Roman governor, Publius. In gratitude, Publius gifted him with a beautiful dog.

2. This Is a Truly Ancient Dog Breed

The history of the Maltese likely dates back to the Phoenicians, who brought the dog to Malta. The Greeks of the fourth and fifth century B.C. immortalized the breed in their art, while Aristotle described the Maltese as “perfectly proportioned.”

3. They’ve Been AKC-Recognized For Over a Century

The Maltese was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888. The breed’s parent club, the American Maltese Association, was formed in 1961, more than 50 years after the first major Maltese specialty club was organized in America. In 1969, the American Maltese Association became an AKC member club and the breed’s official parent club.

Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

4. Elizabeth Taylor Adored Her Maltese

Even Hollywood royalty loves the Maltese. The late actress Elizabeth Taylor lavished attention on her numerous Maltese, bringing them wherever she went (from TV studios to an event launching her new perfume).

5. Their Love of People Helps With Training

The Maltese is an intelligent and lively dog. Some have described them as charming hams. And because this dog is so people-focused, they take well to training, especially if it includes treats and praise.

6. Maltese Make Good Watchdogs

They’re extremely alert and can spring into action if they perceive a threat to their owners.  But it’s important to train your Maltese not to be overprotective because they can have a tendency to bark excessively and could even bite someone they think presents a danger.

7. They’re Tiny Athletes

A member of the Toy Group, Maltese are agile and talented. They enjoy participating in dog sports like agility and obedience.

David Woo ©American Kennel Club

8. The Breed Standard Calls For a Small Size and Gentle Manner

The official AKC breed standard for the Maltese says that the dog should weigh under 7 pounds. The preferred weight is between 4 and 6 pounds. As to temperament, the breed standard notes that the Maltese is gentle in manner, yet lively and playful, too.

Related article: 7 Things To Know About Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
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