The Maltese is a spectacular sight in the dog show ring, as it seems to float around the perimeter on its flowing white coat. This coat is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with the breed. The Maltese originated in the Mediterranean Sea area, as one of a number of “bichon” breeds. The breed has a history that spans 28 centuries.
General Breed Type
The Maltese is a graceful, toy-sized spaniel with a history that spans 28 centuries. The breed, which competes in the toy group in the American Kennel Club and in the companion group in the United Kennel Club, has a small and compact body, framed by a long and silky white coat. The Maltese’s triangular ears drop to the side of her skull and are generously trimmed with long, white fur. The AKC requires that she should weigh less than 7 pounds, if she is to compete in the conformation show ring, while the UKC allows her to compete is she weighs no more than 8 pounds. The Maltese's long tail is carried over her back.
Coat and Color
The long, silky coat of the Maltese lacks an undercoat. Left untrimmed, a well-kept Maltese coat will grow to touch the ground. According to both the AKC and the UKC standards, pure white is the only acceptable coat color for a Maltese. Both registries permit lemon (yellow) or tan (orange) in limited amounts, but markings of any color or size are not favored. The UKC Maltese breed standard states that an ivory tinge to the coat is permissible but that it must be considered an imperfection.