The Maltese is a small, hardy dog with silky hair. The body is compact, fine-boned, but sturdy and slightly longer than it is tall with a level topline. The chest is deep. The skull is slightly rounded on the top with a moderate stop. The medium length muzzle tapers, but not to a point. The pendant, low-set ears are set close to the head and heavily feathered. The black eyes are large, round and set moderately apart with dark rims. The nose is black with open nostrils. The dog has a silky, single layer coat that is white or light ivory. When kept long and groomed like a show dog, it hangs flat, long over the sides of the body almost to the ground (about 8½ inches (22 cm)), hanging on each side of a center part line and is not wavy, curly or kinky. A lot of owners choose to cut the coat into a short, easy-care puppy cut.
The Maltese is spirited, lively and playful. Gentle, loving, trusting and devoted to its master. Highly intelligent. Good at learning tricks. Bold and quick to sound the alarm in case of suspicious noises. It is a classic companion dog: graceful and lovable. It does well with other non-canine animals and other dogs. Maltese love to play outdoors. Some like to jump in puddles. May be difficult to housebreak. If you feed them table scraps, they can become picky eaters. Do not allow these dogs to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavior problems. If the dog believes he is boss, he can be snappish with children and even adults. Do not over-pamper or overprotect these little dogs, for they will become unstable, and some may become jealous of visitors. Maltese that are allowed to take over the house, being boss of the humans, can also develop separation anxiety, guarding and obsessive barking. These are not Maltese traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way the dog is treated by the people around it. These behaviors will go away when the dog is surrounded by stable pack leaders.
Maltese dogs are expected to live 15 or more years.
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