The Maltese

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


Poetry in motion

Note:

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.

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

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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)
The American Kennel Club standard
The FCI standard

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 21-25cm, Bitches 20-23cm, 3-4 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, never crimped and without woolly undercoat Single, long, flat, silky, white, lemon allowed. Any 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 be round, dark ochre
Head Stop to centre of skull (centre between forepart of ears) and stop to tip of nose equally balanced, stop well defined Medium length in proportion to dog, moderate stop 6/11 of height at withers, rather wide, 90° stop
Note that Australia and New Zealand use the old KC standard in which the bite may be level or scissor.


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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
Correct
Incorrect
Dark, oval, not bulging, soft expression Light and bulging, hard expression

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

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

4.1.2.2 The muzzle length
Correct muzzle and skull balance  
Down faced  
Tilted up  
Too short  
Too long  
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 silk preferred) Adult (coarse silk)

Adult (finer silk)

Puppy (medium silk)
 
Double coat (not allowed)
Stand out or Bouffant coat (not allowed)
Crimped coat (not allowed)
Woolly coat (not allowed)
Curly coat (fault, not allowed in AKC standard)
A curly coat in our standard is a fault, but it is preferred to a crimped coat which is not allowed at all
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.

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. 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.

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.


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

4.3.2 Fronts
Correct Fiddle front Out at elbow Narrow
Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.3 Rears
Correct Narrow Cow hocked
Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.4 Rear angulation
Correct Too straight
Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.5 Topline
Correct Roached
Sloping Dipped
Taken from the Illustrated Guide to The Maltese Standard ©1998, American Maltese Association, Inc.

4.3.6 Tail set
Correct tail Flag tail
Pig tail Low-set tail
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.

 

 


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

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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.

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