Maltese dogs are a toy breed that is characterized by long, straight hair that reaches the ground when it is not cut. Additionally, the Maltese is one of the oldest breeds in the world, and these dogs often live until they are 12 to 14 years old.
Dogs of this breed have white hair, but some have cream or light tan fur on or around their ears. The Maltese's coat resembles strands of silk as it hangs off the body and flows as the dog walks. Many owners choose to keep the hair on a Maltese trimmed for easier care. Long-haired Maltese dogs require a thorough hair brushing at least every other day to maintain their coat, which is susceptible to tangling and twisting. These issues are especially prominent when a Maltese stays outdoors.
While the breed can live between 12 and 14 years, some common health conditions in this breed can shorten its lifespan. These health issues include Shaker syndrome, hydrocephalus and hypoglycemia.
Sailors from Phoenicia discovered this dog breed while passing through the island of Malta in 1500 B.C. During the 1300s, this new breed of dog became popular in England. The Maltese was first introduced in the United States during the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in 1877.