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Maltese Black Points & Halos
Overview

Maltese dogs are white; it is the only AKC conformation color of a purebred Maltese. Lemon or tan markings can be present, although is not "desirable" . The snow white of many Malt makes for a gorgeous background for his other colors....
 
This dog has deep, solid black “points”.

The points on a Maltese are the eye rims, the nose and the paw pads. The lips often turn black as well.

You may have heard of the expression: “Maltese halos” and may be wondering, “What are Maltese halos?”  The halos are the black eye rims…They are black pigmented skin that surrounds the dog’s entire eye.  These are normal and they are desired with this breed.
When Malt has the black points, including the halos, they look quite gorgeous.  However, it must be stated that some Maltese dogs do not have black points, and they are beautiful dogs as well. One must know nevertheless, that for show dogs, the black points are desired.

Color Change

Just about all puppies are born with pink points (except for the nose in most cases which often are black from the beginning).  These, if they are going to change, will change as the puppy grows.  “At what age do the points on a Maltese change color?” you may ask. (So many owners worry about this!).

There is no exact time, it is a gradual process.  The nose is often black from birth. However, there are plenty of puppies who are born with pink noses or a pink and black spotted nose.  The nose, halo, and pads (if they are to change) can start changing as early as 6 weeks.  On average, the change takes place between 8 weeks and 14 weeks.  In rare cases, a change can take place up as late as 6 months old.   We have not seen a Maltese change from pink to solid black points after the age of 1 and 1/2 years (And this was a rare case).

Maltese black pointsAs the color change in the Maltese points are taking place, the dog may look a bit “odd”. This is nothing to worry about.  This is true for each area: the nose, eye rims, lips and paws.  For example, the paw may be pink with black spots…or may be all black with 2 remaining pink areas under the toes.   In most cases, the change will continue on until all points are black.  In some cases, the change will never be “complete” and the areas will remain a mixture of the 2 colors.

The Nose and Fading

The nose of the Maltese can turn to a nice, solid black but then fade. Why?  It has to do with sun exposure.  Sometimes, that cute black nose will fade out during the cold winter months and then turn to a dark black in the summer time.  Maltese owners who desire the dark, solid black nose (especially those who enter their Malt in conformation shows) opt to help out with the fading process. 

This can be done during those cold months by finding a very sunny spot in the home and allowing your Maltese to rest there.  It is the exposure to sunlight which will prompt the body to send out pigmentation to the nose area.
  There are no studies to show that sun exposure will cause other points such as the paws or rims to blacken.  The sun can affect belly color (More information is below on this)

Genetics

When a Maltese does not have solid black points, this is due to genetics.  Breeders who are experienced and reputable will have the goal of producing puppies with strong black point pigmentation.  When dams and sires are used for breeding who do not have solid points, the puppies will not have them either…although in some instances, genetics can go back 5 generations and a puppy or two of non-black pointed parents may have solid black points.  See also: Black Spots on Skin |



Pink Points

There are a lot of Maltese dogs who have pink paws, pink eye rims and faded noses.  While this is not the “desired” standard for this dog breed, there is nothing “wrong” with this, they make wonderful pets (and as such, should not be bred, as the goal in breeding is to be steadfast in producing dogs that fit the AKC standard, thus keeping the lines strong with the AKC desired appearance that is ‘expected” with the Malts).

A pet owner should not be concerned if their dog has ½ pink rims and ½ black rims.  It adds character and charm to a dog making each dog special in their own right.

Other Skin Areas

Any other areas on the Maltese that are not considered to be "points" such as the belly, genital area, inside of the ears, tongue, etc can range from pink to black.  Spotted areas are common. especially on the belly.  When it comes to the belly, a pink Maltese stomach will often change to black or develop black areas with sun exposure.   For those who want to keep black areas to a minimum the dog's belly should apply sunscreen to their Maltese whenever their dog is going to be outside for more than 15 minutes.  Even for those who do not care what color the belly is...And it truly does not matter...applying sunscreen is always a good idea, so that the puppy or dog does not get any sunburns, which can be quite uncomfortable.

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