The most ancient of the toys, the Maltese has been popular for centuries with people of wealth. As with other ancient breeds, the origin of the Maltese remains a mystery; the dogs appear in Greek art dating back to the fifth century. Most associate the breed with the Isle of Malta. Maltese likely were distributed as exotic items of trade from Malta, eventually making their way throughout the civilized world. The breed was recognized by the AKC in 1888.


Tiny, 9 to 10 inches, 4 to 6 pounds.


Pure white.


Gentle, playful, and energetic; fearless for its small size. Showers affection on family and friends.

Energy level:


Best owner:

Someone with a lot of time for a dog.


Lots of attention; extensive daily care of long, silky coat; frequent dental care. Apartment living is fine with walks and playtime.

Life expectancy:

12 to 15 years.