The Breed

The Maltese

by Dr Heidi Rolfes (Wampum Maltese  www.wampummaltese.com)

poetry in motion

Poetry in motion

Note

• The black and white sketches are courtesy of: the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard

©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.; and, the UK Maltese Club Newsletter 1989.

• All photos used are of dogs not resident in South Africa.

Contents

1 History

2 Function

3 Breed standards

4 Most outstanding breed characteristics

4.1 Expression

4.2 Coat

4.3 Profile

4.4 Temperament

5 Hints to judges

1 History

Every book ever written on the Maltese begins with some historical account of the introduction of Maltese dogs into Europe via Malta. At the time of the Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires the Maltese dog was already the dog we know today.

2 Function

Unlike most other Toy breeds the Maltese is not a ratter. It is a lap or sleeve dog, a beautiful companion dog.

3 Breed standards

There are 3 main breed standards and versions of them being used in the world when judging the Maltese.

The UK Kennel Club standard (also the KUSA standard) http://www.kusa.co.za/index.php/documents/breed-standards/toy-group/153-maltese

The American Kennel Club standard (http://www.akc.org/breeds/recbreeds/maltese.cfm)

The FCI standard (http://www.fci.be/uploaded_files/065GB98_en.doc)

The standards basically describe the same dog and only have slight variations, some of which are listed below.

Characteristic KC (KUSA) AKC FCI
Size (height at withers or weight) < 10” (< 25.4cm) < 7 lbs, 4-6 lbs preferred Dogs 21-25cmBitches 20-23cm3-4 kg (6.6-8.8 lbs)
Bite Complete scissor Level or scissor Complete scissor
Pigmentation Black eye rims, lips, nose and pads, dark halos Same as KC, no halos required Same as KC plus dark nails
Coat Straight, silky,never woolly, nevercrimped andwithout woolly undercoat Single, long, flat, silky, white, lemon allowedAy suggestion of kinkiness, curliness or woolly texture is objectionable Dense, shiny, glossy, of silky texture, no undercoat Eliminating fault: frizzy coat
Eyes Oval, not bulging,dark brown Round, dark Shape tends to beround, dark ochre
Head Stop to centre ofskull (centre between forepart of ears) and stop totip of nose equallybalanced, stop well defined Medium length inproportion to dog, moderate stop 6/11 of height atwithers, rather wide, 90° stop

Note that Australia and New Zealand use the old KC standard in which the bite may be level or scissor.

4 Most outstanding breed characteristics

Most breeders of Maltese agree that two characteristics are the most important ones, although there is a 50/50 split on their order. They are expression and coat. I have added profile stacked and on the move and temperament just to complete the picture for judges.

4.1 Expression

The expression is made up by correct skull dimensions, and, colour, size, shape and placement of the eyes. The correct Maltese expression is soft.

4.1.1 Eyes

eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.1.2   Head

The skull is almost as wide as long and the muzzle is balanced with the measurement from stop to centre of skull (centre between forepart of ears).  This means if the skull is longer and wider, so must the muzzle be longer for correct balance.  The muzzle does not taper.  The stop is a good stop.

4.1.2.1 Correct and incorrect head proportions

correct and incorrect head proportions

 Taken from the UK Maltese Club Newsletter 1989, The Breed Standard by Chris Ripsher, p10-11

4.1.2.2 The muzzle length

The muzzle length

 Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.2 Coat

All the Maltese breed standards refer to a single, silky, heavy, shiny, flat coat that contours the outline and hangs to the floor in an adult Maltese. It is predominantly white (and there are many shades of white) and light lemon or champagne markings are allowed on the ears and on young puppies under 12 months. All the standards describe in their own way what are eliminating or objectionable faults. They are: undercoat or a double coat; a frizzy, kinky or crimped coat (cf. crinkle cut chips or tight zigzag movement in the coat); and, a woolly coat.

I have tried hard to find good pictures of correct and incorrect coats.

Correct coat (coarse/heavy silk preferred) 

“Heavy” must not mean big, but rather that it hangs like raw silk and every hair is thick and silky, and the coat contours the body of the Maltese and does not stand away from it in an elaborate way. Big coats are usually incorrect on closer inspection.

Adult (coarse silk) 

adult coarse silk

 

 

Adult (medium silk) Adult (Medium silk)

 

A puppy 

A puppy

Double coat (not allowed) 

Double coat (not allowed)

Stand out or Bouffant coat (not allowed) Stand out or Bouffant coat (not allowed)

Crimped coat (not allowed)Crimped coat (not allowed)

Woolly coat (not allowed) Woolly coat (not allowed)

Curly coat (fault, not allowed in AKC  standard)      Curly coat (fault, not allowed in AKC

Too fine fragile coat (allowed by the breed standard – coarser silk preferred).  Both these dogs are over 12 months of age, they are not puppies. Too fine fragile coat


Judges should part the coat to the skin on the side to check for crimps in the coat. Although ironing and stretch blow drying can remove most of the crimps, they will be visible right next to the skin (especially behind the ears). A correct coat moves with the dog and is cold to the touch.

4.3       Profile

Our breed standard starts by describing the Maltese as “a smart, white coated dog with proud head carriage”.  Thus the overall picture created as the dog enters the ring moving side on in profile.

4.3.1   Proportions, balance and shape

The Maltese is square when measured from withers to root of tail and withers to ground.  In full coat the dog will therefore appear longer than tall.

Proportions, balance and shape

 

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

The Maltese is built like this as it is a well angulated dog with an extended reach and drive and moves rapidly considering it’s size covering a lot of ground.  Longer legs or a shorter back will force a well angulated dog to crab.  Be aware, Maltese with straight angulation and a short stride can sometimes be shorter in back and still move true but they are incorrect.  Also be aware that a dog with this type of long stride will tend to single track at speed for kinetic balance and if in full coat on long grass, may trip up as the back feet catch the shoulder coat being drawn back by the long grass.  Short-strided Maltese will move better on long grass but they are not correct.  If in doubt on a very bad surface of long spongy grass take the dogs to a paved area to check.

The Maltese is a standard well angulated dog with a level topline and high tail set.

skeleton

 

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.2   Fronts

Fronts

 

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.3   Rears

rears

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.4   Rear angulation

Rear angulation

 

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.5   ToplineToplineTaken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.6   Tail set

Tail set

Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.7   Movement

Correct movement is true with reach and drive, head held high.  On the move the topline should remain steady and not bob up and down.  At high speed legs may converge for kinetic balance.

movementTaken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.4      Temperament

The Maltese is an affectionate, lively dog with a gentle nature and the heart of a lion.

5          Hints to judges

•      Feel the stop and skull under the top knot by merely depressing the top knot gently.

•      Part the coat to the skin on the side to check for crimps.

•      Trimming is allowed on the feet and on the length of coat to facilitate movement.

•      When checking pads, please just lift the foot, do not ask the handler to pick the dog up into the air.