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Appearance

Maltese Appearance

maltese-dog-appearance

Overview

Size

The Maltese is a small dog in the AKC toy group. Per the standard, he is to be under 7 pounds (3.17 kg). In the show ring, it is preferred that a Maltese be 4 to 6 lbs. For pet Maltese, it is normal to be at the high end of the weight range, or even a pound or two larger. 

Coat

The coat is pure white, though some Maltese may have a touch of lemon or tan; if so this is most often present on the ears. This slight touch of color is permissible in AKC conformation shows. 

The coat is a single layer of hair that is naturally soft, silky, and has a slight wave. Puppies have short hairs that may curl at the tips. Adults are able to grow the coat out, flowing down to floor length.

A large number of owners opt to have their adult wear a shorter, clipped or trimmed 'puppy cut' hair style. It is much easier to maintain than a long show coat, as it stays cleaner, and develops less tangles. 

No matter the length of the coat, hairs on the head can be left to grow, and if so, will be kept out of the eyes with a top knot. 
maltese-puppy-vs-adult-coat
There can be a big change in appearance from puppy to adult, if the coat is allowed to grow long.
Tail
The Maltese has a naturally long tail, it is held over the back with a graceful curve. In show, it is preferred that the tip of the tail lies to the side of the hind quarter. 
Ears
The ears are drop ears, which means that they fall very close to the face; in fact, if a Maltese has moderately long hair, the ears can blend right into the coat. 
Bite Set
The bite set of a Maltese is a scissor bite. This means that the incisor teeth in the upper jaw are in contact with but slightly overlap those in the bottom jaw.
Eyes, Nose, Halos, Skin Pigmentation

Maltese dogs have dark eyes. They will look black on many, and a very dark brown on others. This breed does not carry the genes for light brown, blue, or green eyes. 

Maltese should have black skin pigmentation on the points. This mean that the eye rims, nose, lips, and paw pads should be black. This said, not all Maltese have black eye rims. If they do have solid black rims on both eyes, this is referred to as the halos and is a very desired physical trait. 

Nose color changesIt is not the uncommon for a Maltese to have a black nose, but then it begins to fade and turn either brown or pink. This can be due to one of a couple of factors.

1) Lack of natural sunlight. If a Maltese stays inside too much and lacks sunshine on his nose, it can lose its black color.  Heading out at least twice per day for exercise can help to bring the color back. 

2) Exposure to dry and/or cold air. Opposite to point #1, if the nose is subjected to harsh cold winds and other outdoor elements, or if the air is very dry (inside or out), the nose can become very dry. It may then peel, exposing a lighter pink that is under the black top layer. For this, you will want to use a quality nose balm to restore the sensitive nose leather. 

3) Contact allergies. With this, the most common culprit is plastic food and/or water dishes. A contact reaction (or allergy) can cause a gradual fading. For this, you will want to switch to stainless steel dishes for both food and water. 
maltese-face-color-nose-halo
Nice hallo eyes. It almost looks like black eye liner. 

Appearance Comparison to Other Breeds

The White Coat
Not very many dog breeds can only be found with a white coat like the Maltese. Other breeds that are only found with white coats are the West Highland White Terrier, Bichon Frise, Samoyed, Great Pyrenees, American Eskimo Dog, Kuvasz, and the Komondor.

Care Tips: To keep a Maltese's coat clean and free of discoloration, you'll want to pay particular attention to preventing and treating tear stains which are discolored rust color hairs under or around the eyes, and bathe your Maltese once every 3 weeks with top-quality, effective shampoos that will work to bring out the white in the coat. 
Maltese dog and other white dogs
Komondor image: By Sagaciousphil (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
The Maltese Compared to Other Toy Sized Dogs
There are 21 toy sized dog breeds. Each have their own unique appearance. In regard to size, the Maltese (3 or 4 to 7 lbs.) is comparable to the Pomeranian (4 to 7 lbs.), the Chihuahua (2 to 6 lbs.), and the Papillon (8 to 10 lbs.).

In regard to physical appearance, it's hard to find a breed that looks similar to the Maltese; perhaps one of the closest is the Shih Tzu, particularly if he is light in color. 
maltese-and-other-toy-sized-dogs
Top left to bottom right: Maltese, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, Papillon, and Pomeranian
two Maltese dogs
Detailed information regarding all accepted colors (both AKC and FCI), history of coloring, and points and markings. 
Maltese dog, red background

One of the hardest things to do is to leave the house when you know that your Maltese has trouble coping. When a dog has separation anxiety, being by himself brings about feelings of isolation that can be overwhelming. 

This can be both physically and emotionally stressful for a dog. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help with this. 
Spotlight Article
There are 5 steps to keep a Maltese ultra white, while maintaining excellent skin and coat health. 
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