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Maltese Lion Dog Breed Description

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Breed Organization

American Maltese Association

Native Country
Central Mediterranean Basin - Italy

Other Names
Maltese, Comforter Dog, Maltese Terrier, Straight-Haired Bichon, Roman Ladies' Dog, Canis Melitaeus

Life Expectancy
Approximately 13-15 Years

Litter Size
Average 2-4 Puppies

Breed Group

General Description

The Maltese is a small toy breed with a dainty and elegant build. They typically weigh between 4 to 7 pounds (1.8 to 3.2 kg) and stand around 7 to 9 inches (18 to 23 cm) tall at the shoulder.

Their most notable feature is their long, silky, and straight coat that drapes down to the ground. The coat is single-layered, lacking an undercoat, and is usually pure white in color. The Maltese coat is almost always white, with any other color considered a disqualification in breed standards.

They were often favored by royalty and nobility as lapdogs and companions due to their elegant appearance and affectionate nature.

Breed Standard

Head: Fairly broad. Flat skull. Very pronounced stop. Straight nosebridge. Thin lips. Large nose.
Ears: Set on high, pendulous, hanging against the sides of the head.
Eyes: Fairly large, dark ocher. Edge of eyelids black.
Body: Long. Withers protruding slightly from the topline. Chest well let-down. Straight back. Very broad and long, nearly level croup.
Tail: Thick at the base and thin at the tip. Forming a single large curve with the tip hanging between the hips and touching the croup.
Hair: Very long on the entire body, completely straight, without waves or curls. Silky. Hair on the trunk should be longer than the height at the withers and fall heavily to the ground. No undercoat. Very long on the head. Hair on the tail hangs on only one side of the trunk.
Coat: Pure white. Pale ivory allowed. Traces of pale orange highlights are tolerated, as long as they resemble soiled hairs, but they are a flaw.
Size: Dog: 21 to 25 cm.Bitch: 20 to 23 cm.
Weight: 3 to 4 kg.


The Maltese is a very old breed with hotly debated origins. This little dog's ancestors hunted pests in the ports and maritime cities of the central Mediterranean. It is certain that this dog or a similar breed existed in ancient Egypt and Greece and later in Rome. The ancient Greek geographer Strabon reported that the Sicilian city of Melita exported dogs called canes meliteris. Even though the Maltese is named after Malta, there is no proof that he is a native of this island. Prized by nobility, he was a favorite of England's royal court under Queen Elizabeth I.


Tough and tireless, the Maltese has the liveliness one would expect of a renowned ratter. He is merry, playful, and animated. Affectionate and very calm, he rarely barks and makes an adorable pet. He needs rigorous training.

He can live in an apartment and needs little exercise. He does not like being left alone. He requires daily dematting and brushing, as well as regular baths and grooming twice a year. His ears and eyes should be checked regularly.




Prone to sunburn along the hair parting, skin, eye issues, respiratory, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.

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The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

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Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network

Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.