If you're looking for a small, affectionate, adorable companion dog, look no further than the Maltese. This tiny canine boasts an ancient lineage, dating back approximately 2,800 years, according to the American Kennel Club. In the modern world, the breed is valued for its gentle temperament and portability.
Your Maltese wants to spend her time with you. She's a lovely companion, both in looks and personality. A bright, lively dog, she's also quite fearless. That can pose problems, if a little dog decides to take on another dog three times her size. You might have to rescue her from her own impulses. As dainty as she is, underneath that silky white coat is a tough little cookie. She's playful and doesn't tire easily.
Because the Maltese is smart and wants to please, she takes well to training. Some Maltese yap -- sorry, bark -- a lot, so that's something you want to nip in the bud. This breed especially likes learning tricks to earn praise and attention from her person. The American Maltese Association recommends crate training, claiming it aids in the housebreaking process -- sometimes an issue with little dogs -- and good conditioning if you intend to travel frequently with your best buddy.
OK, so you didn't get a Maltese to protect your hearth and home. Nonetheless, she has protective instincts and is a good little watchdog. She'll sound the alarm, all right, but obviously can't tackle an intruder. The burglar might get his ankles bitten ...
There's no getting around it. These little dogs require a lot of grooming. Ideally, your Maltese needs a good daily brushing. This prevents mats from forming, the bane of many a Maltese's existence. The fine, silky hair tends to mat easily, which can lead to skin infections. Even if a mat never gets to that stage, removing it isn't fun for you or your dog. Keeping your Maltese a pristine white means fairly frequent baths. She might also develop tear stains on her face, which you can remove with commercial products sold for that purpose.
Kids and Other Pets
While the Maltese can make a fine family dog for older children, she's not a good candidate if you have young kids or youngsters frequently visit. They need gentle handling, something tots don't always comprehend. If young kids make her nervous, she could snap at them, even though she's well-behaved with everyone else. She usually gets along well with cats and other dogs, again with the proviso that she takes no guff from bigger dogs, so watch out for her.
Although she loves her person, the Maltese isn't too friendly with people she doesn't know. With strangers, she may behave in a shy manner until she gets to know that individual better. Once she's used to someone, her happy disposition returns.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.