WHAT IS A RESPONSIBLE BREEDER?
A Responsible breeder is one that chooses to follow this path most likely did it with the advice and assistance of a "mentor". A mentor may be the person they purchased their first Maltese from or it may be another established breed, each of who is knowledgeable in the breed -- who gives of their time and advice to help other learn the ropes. Many of us who mentor others in the breed are almost always willing to help and teach those who display their willingness to learn - by their attention, their intelligent questions, their participation in dog related activities. This insures that there is a continuous progression of new breeders in a breed as the elders retire.
A Responsible Breeder will have had all possible health clearances for their female before looking to breed her. The breeder will be honest with themselves about the faults of the female that they wish to breed, and will search for a mate who is exceptionally strong in those areas. While the ideal mate may be of the breeder's own Maltese, they will also consider breeding to someone else's dog. The pedigrees of the dogs to be bred are studied for compatibility and incompatibilities. Breeding of certain "lines" of dogs together may result in excellent puppies, or doubling up on certain ancestors could give undesired results. The Responsible breeder is one that knows the breed standard well and constantly looks to improve this by selecting the best dog to breed to their bitch. A knowledgeable Breeder will be able to tell you why they chose to breed the dogs that produced the puppies you are interested in.
A breeder should first and foremost be concerned with the health and well being to the mother and her puppies. The dam's pregnancy should be monitored starting with being feed a nutritious diet through consultations with a veterinarian for planning for emergency deliveries. The breeder should be present and assist at the whelping. Puppies should be handled frequently to socialize them. Their progress should include daily weigh checks ensure that all puppies are gaining evenly; their dam is regularly checked to insure that she is doing well also. Puppies should receive vaccinations based on accepted veterinary schedules.
A Responsible Breeder is not in a hurry to sell their puppies -- in fact many times they may have a waiting list for their puppies. The Responsible Breeder will not allow puppies to leave for new homes until 8 - 9 weeks of age. However, it is typical that many breeders will take deposits for litter just born or shortly due to be whelped. Many Breeders work full time to support this very expensive hobby, because they realize that there is no money to be made in breeding dogs.
Your Breeder should provide you with a pedigree on your puppy. You should also receive written instructions regarding feeding and health concerns. Many also supply you with a puppy pack. Your Breeder will be available almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week if you have any problems with your puppy. Typically a period of time (usually 24 to 72 hours) is offered for you to have your puppy checked by your own veterinarian and a full refund if you aren't happy with the vet’s findings. Breeders will take back dogs that they have bred if the owner is unable to keep them.
When you speak to breeders remember the length of time breeding or the number of champions finished in one year or many years of time spent breeding dogs does not necessarily indicate quality. Just because a dog has 'Been Shown" does not make it a champion or show quality -- anyone with a full registered Maltese can enter a dog show -- becoming a champion takes much hard work. Just as only having having champions 2 or 3 generations back in a pedigree does not make the Maltese champion quality. Champion titles, specialty awards, and group placements, are much better indicators of the quality of a breeders dogs.
Your breeder will supply
you with a Pedigree of your dog. This is simply a family tree; it is not a registration with the Kennel Club. Registration forms are printed by the KC. A pedigree just gives you a listing of the dogs in the background of your puppy.
Show Quality versus Pet Quality
Reading the Ads -- What About "Teacups" or "Tinys"
There is no such thing as Teacups or Tinys -- ads that advertise this are just trying to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers. The KC Maltese standard for the breed calls for a Maltese to be 4 to 7 pounds. Occasionally when two smaller Maltese -- such as a 4 1/2 female and a 4 1/2 pound male are breed together there may be a Maltese less than 4 pounds produced. But this is by far the exception. Breeders that purposefully try to breed these types of Maltese are doing you and the breed no favors. A breeder should ALWAYS strive to breed for the breed standard.
And likewise be very careful about a breeder than sells you a young puppy and "claims" the puppy to be older than it really is so that the size seems smaller -- yes, there are irresponsible breeders that do this, especially with buyers that are seeking "tiny's or teacups". Maltese breeders typically take the weight at 3 months of age and double it to determine adult weight -- potentially a little more for males, a little less for females. A puppy that weights 3 1/2 pounds at 3 months will mature to 7 pounds or more as an adult.
Background and Causes
Excess Tearing -- Red Yeast
Most veterinary eye specialists believe the actual cause of tear staining is excess tearing. When the face hair is wet from excess tearing it is the breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. One of the most common yeast infections is Ptyrosporin or Red Yeast which causes a deep reddish-brown stain. Low grade bacterial infections in the tear ducts are also common and may cause excess tearing and staining.
Blocked Tear Ducts
If you have a Maltese with excessive tear stains and tearing a visit to your veterinarian may be needed. It is not unusual to find that your Maltese may have completely clogged tear ducts which need to be irrigated by your vet. A veterinary ophthalmology specialist that I discussed tear staining with also indicated that as many as 20% of small dogs, such as Maltese, may be born with lower tear ducts that are physically closed. These may need to be surgically opened.
Many times a rampant ear infection can be the cause of excessive tearing and staining. Care needs to be taken that when you Maltese is bathed the ears are dried after the bath. When your Maltese is bathed make sure a good cleansing product that will leave the ears dry is used. Scraggly hairs in the ears should also be removed by plucking or using a forceps to gently pull the hair out. Frequent cleaning with a product such as Nolvasan Otic can go along way to insuring clean ears and a white face. There are several good products to use for ear infections -- see the "Cures" section below for these.
I believe that genetics plays a significant role in excessive tearing and staining. Like everyone with more than one dog I have had Maltese that tear stain. However, When I breed her - her puppies had no tear staining as baby puppies. She recently had a litter of 5 puppies and as of 3 months of age they have absolutely no tear staining or facial stain from nursing. One month after this litter of puppies was whelped I had another unrelated bitch whelp. Both were breed to the same sire. The second litter of puppies had tearing and staining from the beginning. The head structure on the two litters is different. Many veterinary eye specialists believe that the actual structure around the eye area plays a significant role in excessive tearing. I feel there is a genetic predisposition toward tear staining. Being selective in Maltese breeding stock can play a significant role in tear staining.
Maltese will cut their adult teeth any time form 5 months to 8 months of age. During this time the head structure and mouth are under going many changes causing pressure on the tear ducts. Many Maltese puppies that have had no previous tear stain problems will during this time. It is most important to keep the facial hair as dry as possible and frequently wash it to help keep yeast and bacteria under control. The good news is that when the adult teeth are in this will go away if you have kept it under control. Make sure your Maltese has plenty of chew type of toys to help relieve the pressure on the mouth during this time.
Irritation & Allergies
Eliminating excess tearing is one of the best ways to stop staining. Maltese owners should pay attention to the hair around the face and prevent hair from falling into the eyes causing irritation and infection.
Maltese can be susceptible to allergies so watch the environment your Maltese is in. I have heard from other Maltese owners whose dogs previously had sparkling white faces and overnight tear stained when in a hotel room with a friend who smoked. It also is important to be extra careful when bathing you Maltese. Shampoo and other chemicals in the eyes can cause irritation and excess tearing. I use a little Duo Lube -- basically sterile mineral oil -- to protect my Maltese dogs' eyes when I bathe them. You can find this human product in the eye care section of most drug stores.
My vet believes that many times a "sub-clinical" allergy so something as simple as a type of food can cause an allergy which is an inflammatory reaction. The inflammatory reaction can change the pH fluid in your dogs systems causing excessive tearing and potentially allergies.
The water in many areas has a high mineral level. If your Maltese drink from a water dish and your local water has a high mineral content you may find the entire face and beard stained. I have solved this by training all my dogs to drink from a water bottle. This also keeps the face dry. I start training puppies to drink from a water bottle when they are weaned. Alternatively, a Maltese can be placed on purified or commercial bottled water.
Food & Treats
Diet can play a significant key role in tear staining. I find that feeding a dry kibble that is natural with no additives, preservatives or food color in it seems to aid in maintaining white stain free faces. Many commercial dog foods contain beep pulp which can cause staining of the face and beard.
Another potential source of tear staining is fleas. If you read the directions on most flea shampoos they suggest starting the shampoo with the head. Why -- because fleas need moisture to survive and get this from the dogs' tears/eyes. Naturally, this can cause an irritation in addition to red stain from the fleas' left behind feces (which contains digested blood). Another problem that comes with fleas is ear mites. These are carried by the fleas. Ear mites can cause severe ear infections and as a result tear staining. Fleas require a pro-active approach to keep under control
The Maltese is a very special sort of dog, with the spirit, heart and loyalty of a much larger animal contained in a very small body. Anyone who has become acquainted with a well bred member of this breed has a respect and affection for its attributes and its history. This spirited little breed is very intelligent, sensitive and responsive. Most of all they extremely love.
What Can You Expect From A Maltese
Your Maltese will constantly want be your companion. He will be happy sitting by you side while you read a book or watch television. But he will also like to accompany you wherever you go. They enjoy a walk with their owners and a trip in the car is always welcome. Maltese make good watchdogs and will sound alarms when a stranger comes to the door. But once welcomed into the home everyone is his or her friend. Phrases known to many are that "they will kill you with their kisses" or "they would go home with strangers". Maltese despite their diminutive size are a very hardy dog. Compared to many breeds they are quite free of genetic or congenital medical problems. Your Maltese will live well into his teens and you can expect him to be his same playful and mischievous self for most of those years.
How Big Will My Maltese Be?
Maltese breeders usually use the weight at about 8 - 10 weeks to gauge the size of a Maltese when they are adults. Double the weight -- a female will be slightly smaller and a male perhaps slightly larger. For example, if your female puppy weighs 2 1/4 pounds at around 3 months of age (the age you bought your puppy from the breeder) I would expect that your little girl will weight around 4 - 4 1/2 pounds as an adult. A male puppy that weighs 2 3/4 pounds at 3 months will probably mature out to around 6 pounds. Both of these puppies would be well within the standard for the Maltese breed.
How Many Years Will My Maltese Live?
Maltese are a breed that relatively free of many of the serious genetic diseases that can cause premature death. With good veterinary attention and loving care of its owner many Maltese will live well into their middle teenage years.
Maltese are one of several long coated breeds, but they are the smallest and the only one with pure white coat. The coat is much more like human hair and people who may be allergic to other breeds of dogs or cats may find that they can get along just fine with a Maltese. They do not shed their coats seasonally like dogs with short coats, with the few dead hairs failing out periodically when they are groomed. Because of the long hair they do require more maintenance than a short hair dog and owners should expect to provide these frequent grooming sessions or regular visits to a professional groomer.
Sunshine and Fresh Air
Sunshine is good for the overall health of your Maltese. All dogs need to go outside daily for fresh air. If you don't have a fenced yard or exercise area a walk around the block on his leash will give him his needed daily outside exercise but caution must be taken as the Maltese is such a friendly fearless little dog, he meets no strangers and could be hurt by an approaching larger dog that is not so friendly.
Many people are concerned about the pigment or lack there of on their Maltese. When noses turn grayish, fade or have patches of white at the corner they are sometimes referred to as "winter noses". What you Maltese needs is more sunshine. Breeders and exhibitors have long know that the deeper and darker the pigment the more time a Maltese spends outdoors "soaking up" the sunshine. While you should ensure that you’re Maltese has plenty of fresh water while he is out and that the temperature is not exceedingly hot, he will enjoy some time lolling in the sun "working on his nose tan".
Those Winter Walks
Maltese love to walk, day or night, winter, summer spring or fall, even in the rain or snow. If you plan to walk when the weather in inclement you should consider investing in a sweater and/or raincoat for your Maltese. Tiny doggy boots are also available to protect little feet in extreme conditions. As if a Maltese was not adorable enough on their own they are probably even more adorable with their sweaters on. And their sweater or raincoat will help them enjoy their frequent excursions.
Not A Playmate for Small Children
Maltese are definitely entertaining little characters and with their love of people and small size many children are naturally drawn to them. While they may look like a stuffed toy they are not. Maltese can break -- if you have children that wish a dog to ruff house with, to roll and play with on the floor you may wish to consider a different breed. Because of their delicate bone structure they can easily break bones falling off chairs, tables and when caught in the middle of pile of overly zealous children.
Pet Maltese Should Not Be Bred
Many people, when they first become aware of this lovely breed, soon come to the conclusion that it would be a wonderful idea to buy a female puppy and raise litter from her in the future. The main objective would be to gain a hefty profit. Before you think of this think about the following: it is nearly impossible to make money breeding dogs. There are so many things that can do wrong and the heartbreak associated with this is not easy. Many times Maltese females cannot deliver their puppies on their own and may require a cesarean section, if the female survives the anesthesia her milk may be scarce, the puppies may then need to be raised by hand requiring around the clock feedings every three hours. If your female is your only Maltese and she survives and is able to raise her family she will be busy with them for nearly two months and you are no longer the center of her attention. Your faithful companion now has other interests. Are you willing to give up the companionship of your Maltese for that period of time?
One need only go visit some of the animal shelters to look at the problem of the overly bred pet population. Maltese are very lovely elegant bred and very rarely seen in shelter populations. They have retained their breed elegance by dedicated breeders that know and understand the breed standard and breed to that standard. Understanding the standard and the genetics in the breed may take many years. Not understanding the standard and haphazard breeding practices may lead the Maltese breed to deteriorate to a "me too" breed that is over bred, looks nothing like the standard and ends up in shelter populations. Is this what you want to see happen to the Maltese breed?
Getting along with other pets
Maltese because of their lively personality get along well with most other animals in the household. But do remember that your Maltese will probably be the smallest of the animals and you may need to supervise a rambunctious larger dog more closely when playing with a Maltese. Maltese are also with out fear regarding these larger dogs. On a lead in a strange environment a Maltese will more often than not have no fear approaching the larger dog. Do be careful as this larger dog may not return the affection.
Maltese will get along well with cats in the household however do be cautious as a cat may choose to use her claws in play which can cause severe damage to the eyes of a tiny Maltese. Older cats sometimes need to be watched closely with a new Maltese puppy as they can consider them a prey much like a small rodent. As the Maltese matures and knows how to approach the cat this problem should be alleviated.
The key to good house habits is consistency by the owner. The puppy should, if he must be left alone, not be expected to refrain from relieving himself. When the puppy is in the main part of the house, the owner should be present. When the puppy wakes from a nap, he should go outside and be praised when he relieves himself. Watch the puppy for sniffing and circling in the house, this probably means he is looking for a place to go. Take him outside and again praise. If you catch him too late, "in the act", do not spank him but scold him slightly and take him outside or to a place that he is allowed to potty. Soon the puppy will go to the door and "ask" to be let out. Praise the puppy for this action. A crate is a handy tool for housebreaking. Most dogs do not like to relieve themselves where they sleep and this teaches some control. Do remember that a puppy does not have a great deal of control and use the crate only for short periods of time. When he comes out of the crate, he should be immediately let outside and after he relieves himself, allowed to play in the house.
Take Your Maltese With You
Maltese as adoring little companions love to travel with their owners. The easiest and safest way for your Maltese to travel with you is in his crate. If you will be going on a trip for an extended period of time remember to take a few of his favorite toys, his food and water dishes, a collar and leash and his food. Taking some of your home water along in a bottle can eliminate diarrhea that may be caused by changes in water. Alternatively you can use a squeeze of lemon in the water to help with problems of water away from home. Don't forget you doggy first aid kit and any medications he may take.
Maltese also travel by airplane. Before an airplane trip your Maltese will need to visit his veterinarian to acquire a health certificate, insuring his vaccinations are up to date and he is healthy. A Maltese can travel in the cargo hold for a small charge or can easily travel in a soft-sided specially designed pet carrier that most airlines allow in the passenger cabin. Make sure you check with your airline when making your travel plans and indicate that you will be traveling with your Maltese. While on the airplane in the passenger cabin you Maltese should remain in his carrier. He will most likely spend most of the trip sleeping from the hum of the engines. Don't forget to take his traveling needs mentioned in the paragraph above.
Caring For Your Older Maltese
Modern veterinary medicine has made tremendous strides in protecting and repairing the health of family companions, and pets are living longer than ever before. Like people, pets go through life stages of growth, maturity, and aging. The passage from one stage to another is often blurred, and owners must be on guard to recognize the signs that their Maltese is getting old. A Maltese may easily live to be 15 years old or more. A strong, healthy dog will probably age later than a dog that is stressed by disease or environment early in his life. Dogs that are spayed or neutered before six months of age ordinarily live longer than dogs that are kept intact.
Good nutrition is critical to good health at all ages. Exercise is also of critical importance in keeping the dog in good shape. Even old dogs generally like to play with a favorite toy for a few minutes each day or take a walk to the corner and back. Other steps to delay the onset of aging in their dogs include regular teeth cleaning to prevent gum disease; regular grooming to keep his skin and coat healthy and to discover any problems such as dry skin, thin or brittle coat, thin coat, body odor, or sore spots; and checking his ears for odor or gunk produced by infecting organisms.
Aging begins at birth, but its manifestations are not noticeable for several years. The first sign of aging is a general decrease in activity level, including a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly, a waning of enthusiasm for long walks and games of catch, and a loss of interest in the goings on in the home.
Extremes in temperature and changes in surroundings affect aging and old dogs to some degree. Hearing loss is a frequent consequence of aging, as is some deterioration of sight. Dogs can compensate for these conditions; partial or even total blindness may not be noticed if the dog is in familiar surroundings and has learned to adjust as his eyesight failed.
Skin and coat change, too, as the skin loses pliability and the capacity of the oil-producing sebaceous glands diminishes. Wounds heal more slowly, allergies often worsen, non-malignant tumors may appear in the mouth or on or under the skin, and infestations of intestinal parasite may occur.
As aging advances, heart, liver, and kidneys lose their efficiency, and the immune system is less able to fight off attacks by bacteria and viruses. Bladder control may be affected, and muscles decrease in size and function.
There's a fine line to walk between easing your pet's transition into old age and ushering him into the life of a canine invalid. A dog that enjoyed his puppy hood and his mature years should have the opportunity to enjoy his aging years as well.
One of the most difficult decisions to be made in any pet owner’s life is the day when one realizes their Maltese has lost its zest for life, its pains and tribulations are too much to bear. Euthanasia is never an easy decision. Sometimes it just makes sense to let go.
Feeding the Older Maltese
As you Maltese becomes a senior citizen his nutritional requirements may change. As he gets older he will naturally be less active than he was as puppy and young adult and therefore may need less energy from his diet. A special diet is sometimes needed for him as he grows elderly. Adjustment in the content of protein he gets might be needed as organs can become less efficient in dealing with food. Many of the major brands of dog food have formulas available for the elderly dog.
Obesity in dogs is a serious medical problem. Fat dogs are more at risk in surgery, more prone to injury, and have more stress on their heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, and joints. Fat complicates diseases, injuries, and surgery and stresses the body. Health factors associated with obesity include skeletal stress, cardiopulmonary disease, interference with normal reproductive functions and puppy delivery, complications to diabetes, difficulty in regulating body temperature, and potential inflammation of the pancreas. Surgery takes longer if the veterinarian has to work his way through layers of fat, and obesity complicates drug therapy, anesthesia, and recovery from injury.
Approximately 25-30 percent of dogs either suffers from obesity or is at risk of becoming obese. Dogs become obese because they take in more calories than they use. They will eat themselves into oblivion if given half a chance, so you must be on your toes.
To avoid overweight, tailor the Maltese diet to his activity level, walk the dog daily, and cut back on treats, especially high fat treats. Do not depend on the dog to exercise himself in the back yard; like most people, dogs will not exercise sufficiently without some incentive to do so. A regular schedule of walks and a lower calorie diet will help avoid obesity in spayed and neutered dogs.
To return a dog to a healthy weight, work with a veterinarian to rule out hormonal problems, determine the dog's optimum weight, and devise a feeding schedule that will achieve that weight with a minimum of stress on the dog. Some dog food companies have a special formula for overweight dogs that contain fewer calories. If the dog is very hungry, a diet high in moisture may do the trick because it provides more volume.
There are many commercially prepared dog biscuits that make excellent rewards and snacks. There are also preserved packaged meat products, either beef or lamb based, in rolls that can be cut into small bites for treats. You can find these products at most stores that carry dog food. Care should be taken not to overfed these treats so that your Maltese will not eat its regular diet.
Those interested in healthy foods will find that Maltese like vegetables such as raw carrots and broccoli cut up into little bits. Maltese seem to like the crunchy taste of these treats, which are also excellent stimulation for the gums.
Sliced beef liver and a bunch of garlic (the kind that comes cut up in a bottle) boiled until the beef liver is cooked through (30 minutes) makes an excellent homemade treat. The resultant liver is quite messy which can be solved by placing on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees and bake, turning once until each side is dried out -- but not dried to the point of the entire piece being hard. Cut this up into little bits and keep in refrigerator. Maltese love this -- but you do need to use care to not give them too much as it can cause diarrhea.
And alternative to beef liver is beef hearts. Basically cook this the same way as the liver above. As your butcher for beef hearts or ask them to special order for you. They are usually quite inexpensive. You may need to buy a whole heart but the butcher will usually cut up for you and you can freeze until needed. When cooked this tastes much like roast beef and again the Maltese love this treat. Beef heart treats do not cause diarrhea that that comes with the liver treats.
Dog foods in addition to protein, fats and carbohydrates also must contain vitamin and mineral supplements in balanced concentrations. Too much of one mineral may interfere with absorption of another; too little of a mineral may interfere with vitamin use or other mineral use. Major dog food companies make every effort to provide balanced proportions of vitamins and minerals for maximum benefit to the dog.
Maltese will do well on any one of several dry dog foods, depending on his level of activity, his metabolism, and his individual body chemistry. Because of the requirements of a healthy coat many owners find that Maltese do best on a diet that is high in protein and fat content. If your Maltese is doing well on the food you are feeding do not switch. If you have skin problems that cannot be traced to an obvious cause such as fleas, consider a food with a higher fat content or one of the hypoallergenic foods.
No matter the ingredients in a dog food, most important is to supply nutrients in a form the dog can use to translate into growth, energy, and body repair. Nutrients are chemicals ingested by living organisms that are necessary for survival.
The six basic nutrients needed by living things are
Fats, carbohydrates, and water are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules in different configurations; proteins include these elements and nitrogen. Minerals are themselves elements; vitamins are complex chemicals of different composition necessary for various life processes.
Which Dog Food To Choose
If a dog food is balanced and provides the proper amount of essential nutrients which of the dozens of brands and hundreds of formulas should be chosen for your Maltese?
Although allergies in dogs seem to be on the increase, few dogs are actually allergic to their food. Lamb and rice feeds were formulated a few years ago as diets for dogs allergic to poultry, beef, or corn, but there is little evidence that the itchy skin and malabsorption problems experienced by many dogs could actually be traced to food allergies.
Types of Dog Food
Many nutritionists and veterinarians feel that a dog being fed a balanced diet that meets its requirement for nutrients does not need any supplements of vitamins or minerals. Some go so far as to say that supplements can unbalance the diet by disrupting the necessary relationship between vitamins and minerals. Some breeders disagree and regularly supplement their dogs with one of a variety of products promoted for healthy coats and skin, bone growth, reproductive capacity, etc.
Some owners who have dogs with dry skin may add a teaspoon or tablespoon of corn oil to their pet's dinner, but many nutritionists think that this adds only calories and that a food higher in essential fatty acids will take care of the skin. Some owners purchase essential fatty acids in a bottle and add that to the food.
Some owners think growing puppies need extra calcium and add it in the form of bone meal. But this can do more harm than good, for calcium must be in balance with phosphorus and magnesium in the diet, and an overabundance of calcium can cause a myriad of problems.
Most Maltese will do well when fed good quality dry dog food; occasionally add some canned or frozen food, some meat broth (no salt added), or a bit of liver for a treat; and avoid supplements unless recommended by a veterinarian.
Those owners who would like to cook their own food at home should contact a nutritionist for a recipe to make sure the ration is balanced.