AKC Maltese puppies for sale AKC Champion Maltese

Storybook Maltese

Many believe that the Maltese originated on the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. However, evidence presented in the Maltese Dogs: Jewels of Woman, (Miki Iveria, pub: Maltese Club of Great Britain) and other sources suggests that the Maltese did in fact originate in Asia. Evidence of dogs resembling the Maltese have been found as early as 5000 - 2000 B.C in ancient drawings, art and writings.

Assuming the place of origin of the Maltese to be Asia, the tiny dogs probably made their way to Europe through the Middle East with the migration of nomadic tribes. The Isle of Malta was a geographic center of early trade and explorers undoubtedly found ancestors of the tiny white dogs left there as barter for necessities and supplies.

As civilization rose in Europe references are seen to the tiny white dog. An indirect reference of Aristotle's to the Maltese clearly indicates its co-existence along with other varieties of dogs indigenous to Southern Europe. Aristotle likens the small dogs to a "Canis Melitae . . . of the tiny sort, being perfectly proportioned not withstanding its very small rise." During these times the Maltese was a favorite lap dog of fashionable men and women about town, being carried wherever their masters went. The Maltese were also favorites of the Greeks and Romans of old. There are many drawings in existence portraying small, long-haired dogs on pieces of Greek and Roman pottery.

The ancient Europeans long held the belief that the small dogs came from one of the small islands off the coast of Sicily, hence the name Canis Melitae. Two of the geographers of that time named the tiny island (one of three) differently. Phiny (Admiral of the Roman Fleet) called the island Melita and Starbo called the island Malta. The conflicting names caused confusion so early writers and geographers agreed to call the island Malta. The Maltese is one of few dog breeds to have retained it name from its known origins.

Malta as an island has a very ancient and noble history. Its geographical position has always made it an important place in the Mediterranean since it was settled by the Phoenicians some four thousand years ago. It developed a culture and a race of people with distinctive characteristics, and a race of dogs in the little Maltese that differs from almost every other breed. Malta's geographic situation gave it an ecology that remained undiluted by outside influences for many centuries. Maltese as dwellers of the island of Malta were bred as purebred dogs as far back as the early 1500's.

The English Background

Maltese were first imported into Britain during the reign of Henry VIII. They were certainly favorites in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. By the middle of the 19th century the breed was well established as a pet dog in Britain, and when dog shows began, the Maltese were featured among the early exhibits. Many of the Maltese in the US today trace their heritage back to English imports.

The Maltese in the US

Maltese were first seen in the United States in the late 1800's to the early 1900's. Maltese were participants in the earliest versions of the Westminster Kennel Club shows in the 1870's. Registrations with the American Kennel Club studbook in that time frame were made on the basis of show winnings. Where the early Maltese in the US were imported from is not known. What is know is that the Maltese lines in the US today have resulted from the importation of Maltese from Great Britain, Canada, Germany, France and Italy.

Maltese are a member of the ‘Toy’ group, but they are not terriers and have characteristics more like Spaniels.

Know to many as "ye ancient dogee of Malta", the Maltese breed has a history that traces back many centuries. This beautiful silky-coated little white dog has a rich and exciting history. The admirers of Maltese come from all walks of life from the pet fanciers and show fanciers to the rich and famous. Few breeds have achieved such affection and admiration over the years as the elegant little Maltese.

The History of the Maltese

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