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Ch. Aennchen’s Shikar Dancer, Maltese.
William Brown - Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

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. Take a look at these fun facts to get to know this fascinating dog even better.

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.

Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

They’re 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.”

They’ve Been AKC-Recognized For Over a Century

The American Kennel Club recognized the Maltese in 1888. The breed’s parent club, the American Maltese Association, formed in 1961, over 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.

Elizabeth Taylor Adored Her Maltese

Even Hollywood royalty love 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.

Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

Their Love of People Helps With Training

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

Maltese Make Good Watchdogs

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

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.

Ch. Aennchen’s Shikar Dancer, Maltese.
William Brown - Courtesy of the AKC Library and Archives

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.

Maltese Were Popular With Roman Aristocrats

The Maltese was already a prevalent breed back in the 5th century, becoming a status symbol and fashion statement for Roman noblewomen. The breed was also a persistent motif in Roman culture. Maltese appeared in numerous myths, poems, and fables in which the breed symbolized loyalty.

They’re Happy to Make Friends of All Ages

Maltese are charming and affectionate dogs that love to spend time with their families or other people they know well. Like with all dogs, it’s important to supervise any interactions between a Maltese and young children or children who haven’t been exposed to dogs.

Related article: The Smallest Dog Breeds
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