The Maltese: The Roman Ladies’ Dog

The maltese is a small breed dog that falls into the toy group and has roots in the Central Mediterranean Area from the island of Malta. This dog is a compact breed that usually weighs between 4 to 7 lbs and is a cuddly companion to anyone who owns one.


The breed has been an aristocrat dog for centuries and originated from Malta. Originally called “Canis Melitaeus” in Latin, it’s been known as the Ancient dog of Malta, and the Roman Ladies’ Dog, as well as the Maltese Lion Dog. In the 19th century, the breed became known as the Maltese by the AKC.

It is thought the Maltese is descended from a spitz type of dog but there is also some traces of the Tibetan terrier. In other words, the exact origin of the breed as we know it is unknown. However, the breed has been known as a royalty dog and also has a mouser. Today, the dog is primarily a companion dog and falls under the category of hypoallergenic dogs breeds due to their low dander and fur.


The Maltese have small bodies, round little heads, and a small black nose, although some have pink noses too. They are equally as long as they are tall and have ears that drop down and have these round little eyes that give them some of the most expressive looks of any dog. In other words, they are adorable.

The coat is soft and when it’s long you can see the silky sheen but many people keep their maltese dogs with a “puppy” cut where it’s kept short to avoid tangles and knots. They do not have an undercoat and only weigh about 7lbs.


The Maltese thrive on love and attention. They are lively, playful, and have lots of energy but they are also cuddly. They love to hang out with their human companions and may even prefer people over other dogs. The Maltese is a gentle mannered dog overall and can be a great family pet.

Because of their size, they do well in apartments and smaller homes. They do need exercise and play time so a small yard or trip to the dog park for a few games of fetch will keep them happy and in shape. In bad weather, they will gladly play games with you in the house and because they are small, you won’t have to worry that they will shake the lamp off the table with their bounding and running.


The Maltese should be brushed regularly to prevent knots, matting, and loose fur from building up. They also may require regular facial care to prevent tear stains on their face. Some may have watery eyes which results in stains that are red to brown under the eyes and along the nose. A fine tooth comb, some warm water, and gentle wiping can remove the stains.

The Maltese may live well into their teen years if well cared for. Some may develop deafness as they enter their golden years and others may develop skin and fur issues such as dryness or a thinning coat.

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One thought on “The Maltese: The Roman Ladies’ Dog

  1. The one thing we have noted in our Maltese: she is very, very smart–enough that she has learned to spell words when we tried to “fool” her after she learned the words! She does not know that she is a “little” dog, and cheerfully will bite on the nose a big dog who annoys her. She loves trips and travels well, and adapts to being anywhere–a motel, a cabin, a friend’s house. . . . She likes cats, and has a cat “friend.”