Characteristics include slightly rounded skulls, with a finger-wide dome, a black button nose and brown eyes. The body is compact with the length equaling the height. The drop ears with (sometimes) long hair, and surrounded by darker skin pigmentation (called a “halo”), gives Maltese their expressive look. Lacking exposure to sunlight, their noses can fade and become pink or light brown in color. This is often referred to as a “winter nose” and many times will become black again with increased exposure to the sun.
The Maltese moves with a jaunty, smooth, flowing gait. Viewed from the side, he gives an impression of rapid movement, size considered. In the stride, the forelegs reach straight and free from the shoulders, with elbows close. Hind legs to move in a straight line. Cowhocks or any suggestion of hind leg toeing in or out are faults.
The coat is long and silky and lacks an undercoat. Maltese should have long silky coats. Some Maltese can have curly hair, but this is considered a fault. The colour of the coat is pure white. A pale ivory tinge is permitted on the ears. In some standards, pure white coat with slight lemon markings are tolerated.
The Maltese does not shed, and is therefore a good choice for people with dog allergies. Some people prefer to have the coat short. The most common cut for the Maltese is called the “puppy cut,” which involves trimming or shaving the entire body to one short length (typically less than an inch long)
Maltese are bred to be cuddly companion dogs. They are extremely lively and playful, and even as a Maltese ages, his energy level and playful demeanor remain fairly constant. Some Maltese may occasionally be snappish with smaller children and should be supervised when playing, although socializing them at a young age will reduce this habit. They also adore humans, and prefer to stay near them. The Maltese is very active within a house, and, preferring enclosed spaces, does very well with small yards. For this reason, the breed also fares well in apartments and townhouses, and is a prized pet of urban dwellers. Some Maltese may suffer from separation anxiety.
Maltese tend to have several tooth problems usually resulting in cavities, which needs proper care. Yhey may suffer from skin disease (sun influence), eye problems and slipped stifle. They are feeling discomfort in damp areas.