The Maltese is a small breed of dog in the Toy Group. It descends from dogs originating in the Central Mediterranean Area. The breed name and origins are generally understood to derive from the Mediterranean island nation of Malta; however, the name is sometimes described with reference to the distinct Adriatic island of Mljet, or a defunct Sicilian town called Melita.
The Maltese had been recognized as a FCI breed under the patronage of Italy in 1954, at the annual meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland. The current FCI standard is dated November 27, 1989, and the latest translation from Italian to English is dated April 6, 1998. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1888, its latest standard being from March 10, 1964.
Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome, a black button nose and brown eyes. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with (sometimes) long hair, and surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a 'halo'), gives Maltese their expressive look. Lacking exposure to sunlight, their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color. This is often referred to as a 'winter nose' and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun.
Maltese dog in full show coat.
The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. Also, a pale ivory tinge is permitted. In some standards, traces of pale orange shades are tolerated. Also, the Maltese has hair, not fur. It sheds less, and is a better choice for people with dog allergies. The Maltese has lemon or brown markings along with the white hair. Some people prefer to have the coat short. The most common cut for the Maltese is called the 'puppy cut,' which involves trimming or shaving the entire body to one short length (typically less than an inch long)
Adult Maltese range from roughly 5 to 12 lb (2.3 to 5.4 kg), though breed standards, as a whole, call for weights between 5-8 lbs. There are variations depending on which standard is being used. Many, like the American Kennel Club, call for a weight that is ideally less than 7 lbs. They stand normally 7-12 inches.
Source of information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltese_(dog)
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