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Halos & Points

Maltese Black Points and Halos


You may have heard about Maltese halos, and are wondering what these are. And maybe you noticed that halos are not mentioned in the AKC breed standard. In fact, halos are not mentioned in the FCI standard either.

So, what in the world are halos? And do all Maltese have them? Here, we will answer your questions about this and show some photo examples. 

First, an Understanding of Maltese Points

As we stated, the term 'halo' is not mentioned in any Maltese breed standards. Yet, it is actually there, just in a different way. The word itself is not there; however, its description is. And it all comes down to points.

The 'ideal' Maltese should have black points. This refers to eye rims, paw pads, nose, and lips. And that black should be a solid black without any other colors (a fading, a pink, or otherwise).

The AKC words this as so: "Eyes are set not too far apart; they are very dark and round, their black rims enhancing the gentle yet alert expression..." "The nose is black." "... the feet are small and round, with toe pads black." 
And this is further corroborated by looking at the AKC color codes for the Maltese breed. 

Aside from the base coat options of the standard white (S 199), and the two alternate colors of white and lemon (A 211) and white and tan (A 217), are black markings (the only marking possible for the Maltese), which is a standard S 019. 
The FCI also calls for black eye rims, paw pads, nose, and lips. Wording is as so: 

(In reference to the nose:) "... rounded and absolutely black." ".. The edges of the lips must be absolutely black." "... Eye rims and third eye lid are black." "... pads should be black."
So, to summarize, points should be black. We would like to make a note here that there are lots of pet Maltese dogs that do not have 'perfect' black points, and that these standards refer to the 'ideal' specimen for the show ring. 


Keeping in mind the aforementioned black points, the halos are just one part of this. Halos are the black eye rims. When the rims are solid pitch black, and circle around the entire eye without any fading or disconnection, these would be halos.

The super rich black that encircles the eye, along with the very dark eyes of a Maltese, create the appearance of having very large eyes. This is a desired physical trait. And as explained above, since black eye rims are part of the standard, it is favorable when judging. 

What it Means if a Maltese Does Not Have Halos

For any dog breed, there are always show quality dogs and pet quality dogs. Many breeders will not even sell their show quality dogs, or at least those destined to become champions in the ring.  And if they are sold, prices may be much higher than otherwise.

While all reputable breeders strive to meet the breed standard, it is a guideline for goals. It is not always attainable. And therefore, it cannot and should not be expected for every single pet Maltese. 

Ideally, if breeding, you would want to only pair Maltese that have strong halos and strong black points. This advances the generations going forward to carry these preferred traits. 

But, even with careful breeding selection, genes can carry from 5 generations back. So, it is perfectly common for pet Maltese to have most of their black points but to have those thick, black eye rims that are the halos. 

Photo Examples of Halos Vs No Halos

No Halos - In this photo below, you will notice that this Maltese does indeed have colored eye rims. 
However, they are not a deep black color, as can be seen on the nose. 
Halos - In this second photo, you will notice that this Maltese
has deep black eye rims, also known as halos.
The color is so deep, and so rich, that it almost looks like this Maltese is
wearing black liquid eye liner.
So, there you have it. Halos are solid black eye rims. And while this is preferred in the show ring, and it is called for in the breed standard via  a reference to black eye rims, not all Maltese puppies and dogs will have halos. 
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