Breed standards are a set of guidelines commonly used to ensure that dogs measure up to certain characteristics typical of the breed. Breed standards are used to judge dogs in competitions and are considered to be the hypothetical ideal of the breed.
If you want to compete with your Maltese and are concerned about following these requirements to the letter it might also be helpful to take into account that these ideal specifications can vary in different countries. These are the standards from the American Kennel Club.
So you must be wondering… How does your Maltese measure up to the official ‘conformation’ points? Keep in mind that these refer to the ideal dog and variations in your own Maltese are not in any way a poor reflection on your pet. Unless you want to compete that is… The following is adapted from the American Kennel Club Maltese Breed Standard guidelines which have been in effect since 1984.
The Maltese is a gentle-mannered and loving toy dog. Covered from head to foot with smooth, silky hair. Despite the dog’s size, it should be eager and energetic.
The head must be in proportion to the size of the dog. The skull should be slightly rounded on top and the stop should be moderate.
The ears are low set and hang close to the head. The ears should be covered with hair hanging over them. The eyes are not set too far apart and should have a gentle but alert expression. The eyes are surrounded by black rims.
The muzzle is of medium length, fine, and tapered at the nose. The nose is black. The teeth should meet in even bite.
The neck is long enough for the head to be held high.
The body is compact. The shoulder blades are sloping and the elbows well-knit. The back is level and the ribs well sprung. The chest is deep and just slightly tucked underneath.
Covered in long hair and gracefully carried over the back the tip should lie to the side over a quarter.
Legs and Feet
The legs should be fine-boned and feathered. The forelegs are straight and the joints well-knit. The hind legs are strong and slightly angled at stifles and hocks. The feet are small and rounded. Toe pads are black.
Coat and Color
The coat is long, flat, and silky. It should hang over the sides of the body almost to the ground. The long hair on the head may be tied up or left hanging. Any curl, kinks, or woolly texture is considered a fault. The color must be pure white. Light tan or cream shades are allowed but frowned upon.
The ideal Maltese is without fear. A gentle-mannered dog with an affectionate manner is the ideal. Lively and playful.
The weight must be less than 7 pounds. Between 4–6 pounds is preferred.
The Maltese moves with a smooth, flowing gait. When in motion the forelegs reach straight and free from the shoulders. The hind legs move in a straight line.
Whether you want to compete or are just interested in how your dog measures up these are the most widely recognized guidelines.
Caring for your Maltese will require grooming to prevent the coats from matting. Try to keep the face clean especially around the eyes to avoid the typical “tear staining” which can spoil your Maltese’s lively expression.
Maltese are excellent companions and lively playmates. This aristocrat of the canine world is a pleasure to own and love. And if your Maltese meets the breed standards, it’s a pleasure to show off your beautiful Maltese. If for some reason they don’t meet the standard, it doesn’t mean a darn thing. They are beautiful through and through.