Few breeds are as widely loved as the Maltese. This intelligent and affectionate pet is popular all over the world with the rich and famous as well as the commoners.
The Maltese is a playful and adventurous little dog with a rich history dating back more than 28 centuries.
As with every breed there is some disagreement about the first traces of the breed. Some say the dog originated in Sweden and is a descendent of a Spitz type dog.
The Greeks believe the first Maltese originated in the Isle of Malta. They called this dog "Melitaie Dog". Melitae was the ancient name for Malta. Some sources indicate the Maltese originated in Asia.
The earliest artifacts resembling Maltese dogs was found in Egypt. These date back to between 600-300 BC-suggesting that the ancient Egyptians worshipped early forms of the Maltese.
There are many historical pictoral representations of these dogs. Greek cermaic art and many Greek and roman philosphers also mention the Maltese. Aristotle and many other noteworthy philosophers and historians mention the dog. The Greeks even erected tombs to their Maltese.
These tiny dogs most likely made their way through Europe and the Middle East as nomadic tribes migrated. Some say the little dogs were used in bartering and in this way the Maltese found its way around Europe, and beyond.
The Maltese was regarded as a upper class dog, prized by aristocrats, statespersons and royalty. In the middle of the 19th Century it was regarded as quite fashionable to have a Maltese in your pocket or handbag. Some even believed that the dog possessed magical healing powers.
The first records of the Maltese in Britain is during the reign of Henry VIII. Many royals have enjoyed Maltese companions since then. Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria also owned Maltese.
Nobody documented how the Maltese came to America. The Maltese were first seen in the US in the late 1800's. The first Maltese was white and listed as a "Maltese Lion Dog" at the first show in 1877. The American Kennel Club started recognizing the breed in 1888.
Maltese owners come from all walks of life. Many pop culture icons have owned these good natured little dogs. Marylin Monroe, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor and Tony Bennett are some of the famous owners.
Most likely its white color and long silky coat had a great deal to do with its popularity. It also has a lot to do with its great personality