With the face of an angel and the personality of a pixie, the Maltese is used to having things his way. And why not? He's been a favorite of the rich and royal since ancient times.
The Maltese is an ancient breed, perhaps the oldest of all toy dogs. Drawings on Greek and Roman pottery show small long-haired dogs of Maltese type, and even Aristotle mentioned a tiny dog from Malta. Even in ancient times ladies valued lap dogs, and the Maltese was dispersed along trade routes throughout Europe. They were adored by royalty and ladies for centuries and were one of the first breeds exhibited at dog shows---where they were called Maltese Terriers or Maltese Lion Dogs.
The Maltese is still a favorite of the rich and famous. They are equally adept at adorning a lap as they are at killing a toy. Despite their patented look of pure innocence, they often harbor a mischievous side, and have delusions of being tough guard dogs at times!
Feed your Maltese puppy a puppy food designed for toy dogs. Tiny puppies should be fed small amounts often---more than larger dogs---because they can't store glucose efficiently. They can easily develop hypoglycemia if they are active and have gone without food for too long. Puppy food for toy dogs combats hypoglycemia because it is high in protein, fat and complex carbohydrates. If your puppy becomes sleepy to the point of being hard to rouse, or unresponsive, it's an emergency. Rub syrup on his gums and get him to the veterinarian immediately. Most Maltese outgrow the danger by the time they are 7 months old. But even as adults, a food designed for toy dogs is the best choice.
Maltese are prone to knee problems. If you see your Maltese skipping for a step or two, he may have a condition your veterinarian needs to check. He may also eventually develop arthritic changes in his knees. To combat this, add a glucosamine-chondroitin supplement to his diet as soon as he shows any signs of hopping or lameness.
For a little dog, some Maltese can pass a lot of gas! Adding an anti-gas pill to meals can make your lap-sharing time more enjoyable!
It's not easy to grow the long coats you see in the show ring. To do so you must feed a nutritious food with vitamin supplements. You must keep the coat free of parasites and dirt. With any Maltese coat, when brushing or combing, spritz the coat lightly with a combination of water and conditioner; this prevents static electricity and breakage. Bathe often, using a whitening shampoo. If your dog tends to scratch, use an avocado oil-based shampoo. Follow with a conditioner. You can also apply a leave-in conditioner that will help prevent tangling and matting; however, you have to wash these out and replace them every week or even more often if your Maltese gets dirty.
Most people opt to forgo the super long tresses and instead go for a cute trim. But you should still use the same shampoos and conditioners to keep the coat tangle-free between visits to the grooming shop.
Most Maltese have healthy ears, but you should still check them for signs of redness, itching or debris weekly. Any time they get goopy, clean with an ear-cleanser. If the goop comes back, see your veterinarian.
Toy dogs are prone to dental problems and tooth loss, so brush the teeth daily.
Clip the nails every two weeks or so using a small dog nail clipper.
Maltese are forever young at heart, but sometimes age-related physical changes, such as arthritis, make it tough to keep going at full intensity. Besides any intervention recommended by your veterinarian, a soft cushion to lie on and glucosamine chondroitin supplements added to the diet can help soothe aching joints, and keep him as young in body as he is in spirit.