Among the Bichon breeds, the Maltese breed is the oldest. It existed in the pharaohs age. Traces of these dogs were found in Egypt in 350 BC in the tomb of Ramses the II, which contained statues that represent this type of dog. There are records proving that this breed was known in Italy in the age of the emperor Claudius in 45 BC. Aristotle called them "the ladies' favorite". Ancient authors often mentioned the beauty of this breed, the Greeks were so in love with this breed that they even built tombs for them. A painting by Titian, of 1576, showed a dog very similar to a Maltese. It was the most popular dog in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance period and remains so today.
It is a small, very stylish, square-shaped dog. The head is proportional to the body, the skull is broad and flat, with a prominent stop, the muzzle is rather long, proportional to the skull, covered with long hair and with a big, black nose. The eyes are round, big and black. The ears are triangular, of medium length and covered with rich, long hair and drooping. The tail is quite long, kept rolled on the back and covered with rich hair. The hair is long, fine, silky, thick, glossy and covers the whole body, the head, the tail and the legs down to the paws. The hair is pure white or pearly and has a parting on the middle of the back.
It is an intelligent, lively, smart, playful, very friendly, sociable and sensitive dog. It is obedient, affectionate and very devoted to its master, loving and patient with children, but rather cautious and vigilant with strangers. It gets along well with other dogs and other household animals.
The fur requires daily brushing, combing and regular bathing. The excess hair grown over the eyes, in the ears and between the footpads should be removed. It doesn't normally shed, but the dead hair is removed by brushing. The hair on the head can be tied with a ribbon or bow, not to cover its eyes. The tear spots can be removed with special solutions, if unaesthetic.
It is a dog which feels very well in an apartment, around a loving and affectionate master, who has enough daily time to take care of it. It has a low level of activity but it will not refuse longer walk from time to time. It needs socialization and training.
It is an intelligent dog which wants to please its master, it is sensitive, therefore the training is easy to do. It has to be gentle and consistent.
It is a loving and affectionate companion.