The Maltese are diminutive specimens of the canine race, as their name indicates, are descended from native dogs of the Island of Malta or Melita, in the Mediterranean Sea. They are among the oldest of breeds. Certainly there are none older, for they are mentioned three hundred years before the Christian era. The principal thing about them that attracts the interest of the public is their soft, silky, snowy white coat. They were more popular twenty-five years ago than at the present time.
The Maltese does not thrive well except in a moist climate. Even in England, where the climate is damp, the most expert fanciers have their hands full in keeping them in condition.
The Maltese as a rule breeds very true to type. They are an ornament to a parlor or a carriage, but there their usefulness begins and ends, for many of them are snappish, and few of them have the intelligence of the average pet dog of other breeds.
The points to be considered in Maltese Terriers are: size-the smaller the better, if sound-luxuriant coat, and short body.
In selecting Maltese puppies at from two to four months old, those are likely to make the best dogs which are the smallest (not weaklings), possess most coat, shortest bodies, and shortest legs.
The following is the standard description and points of the Maltese Club of London: HEAD.-Should not be too narrow, but should be of a Terrier shape, not too long, but not appleheaded.
EARS.-Should be long and well feathered, and hang close to the side of the head, the hair to be well mingled with the coat at the shoulders.
EYES.-Should be a dark brown, with black eye rims, and not too far apart.
NOSE.-Should be pure black.
LEGS AND FEET.-Legs should be straight, feet round, and the pads of the feet should be black.
BODY AND SHAPE.-Should be short and cobby, low. to the ground, and the back should be straight from the top of the shoulders to the tail.
TAIL AND CARRIAGE.-Should be well arched over the back and well feathered.
COAT: LENGTH AND TEXTURE.-Should be a good length, the longer the better, of a silky texture, not in any way woolly, and should he straight.
COLOR.-It is desirable that they should be pure white, but slight lemon marks should not count against them.
CONDITION AND APPEARANCE.-Should be of a sharp Terrier appearance, with a lively action; the coat should not be stained, but should be well groomed in every way.
SIZE.-The most approved weights should be from 4 to 9 pounds, the smaller the better, but it is desirable that they should not exceed 10 pounds.
VALUE OF POINTS.-Head, 5; ears, 5; eyes, 5; nose, 5; legs and feet, 5; body and shape, 10; tail and carriage, 10; coat and length, 20; color, I5; condition and appearance, 10; size, 10. Total, 100.