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The Maltese is a dog belonging to the toy group that is covered from head to foot with a mantle of long, silky, white hair. Maltese can be very energetic and are known for their occasional wild outbursts of physical activity, running around in circles chasing their tail, and bolting at top speed with amazing agility; given this, they still do well for apartment dwellers. They are relatively easy to train and enjoy a playful game of fetch. These intelligent dogs learn quickly, and pick up new tricks and behaviours easily. Since they were bred specifically for companionship, they do not do well being left alone for long hours.
The breed has a reputation for being good-natured, but may be intolerant of small children or other dogs. They can be protective of their owner and will bark or may bite if animals or people infringe on their territory or are perceived as a threat.
For all their diminutive size, Maltese seem to be without fear. In fact, many Maltese seem relatively indifferent to creatures/objects larger than themselves (unless of course it is the owner). They are among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet they are lively and playful as well as vigorous. Because of their size, Maltese dogs are not a good choice for families with small children because they can be easily injured.
Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives Poodles and Bichon Frisť, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese (See list of Hypoallergenic dog breeds). Regular grooming is required to prevent their coats from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a "puppy cut," a 1 - 2" all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some owners, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long hair to keep it from matting and breaking off. Dark staining in the hair around the eyes ("tear staining") can be a problem in this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog's eyes water and the size of the tear ducts. If the face is kept dry and cleaned daily, the staining can be minimized. Many veterinarians recommend avoiding foods treated with food coloring and serving distilled water to reduce tear staining. Train your pup using Cesar Millan's Dog Whisperer tips!
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