Despite their reputation for being predominantly white, Maltese coats can actually come in a variety of colors and shades, ranging from pure white to cream, beige, and even light tan.
Here are a few interesting facts about the Maltese color, starting with some historical background.
History of the Maltese color
Maltese dogs weren’t always white.
Their original ancestors can be traced back to ancient times when they were admired by civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.
In fact, the nobility and aristocrats of that time had a preference for dogs with white coats, believing them to be a symbol of elegance and status.
It’s thought that the white coat we now associate with Maltese dogs was selectively bred over time. As a result, the white coat color became more prevalent until it eventually became the standard for the Maltese breed.
Are all Maltese dogs white?
While white remains the most common color seen today and is preferred by show standards, other shades occasionally appear in litters.
Cream-colored coats, for example, are relatively common among Maltese dogs and can range from pale off-white to a slightly deeper hue reminiscent of vanilla ice cream.
Brown Maltese or black Maltese, on the other hand, are typically a result of crossbreeding with other breeds such as Yorkshire or Poodle.
Did you know? A Yorkshire and Maltese mix is often referred to as a Morkie, while a Poodle and Maltese mix is known as a Maltipoo.
While mixed breeds are adorable, if you’re interested in owning a purebred Maltese, make sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder.
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), the breed standard for purebred Maltese dogs specifies that they should have a pure white coat.
That said, slightly tan or lemon-colored ears are considered to be acceptable (although not preferred), provided it doesn’t extend to other parts of the body.
The Maltese breed standard also emphasizes other traits like dark eyes, as well as black nose and eye rims.
Maltese color changes
Even if a Maltese puppy is born with a perfectly white coat, this doesn’t guarantee that it will stay that way. The extent of coat color change can vary from dog to dog and may be influenced by genetics, age, and other factors.
Tear stains around the eyes are common in Maltese dogs and can result from tear duct abnormalities, allergies, or in some cases, diet.
Additionally, they may have discolored hair on the chin and paws, which is caused by saliva, tap water, or simply dirt and grime.
Using a high-quality whitening shampoo specifically formulated for white-coated breeds can help maintain the bright white color of your Maltese dog.
Regular grooming is also essential in keeping a Maltese’s coat looking its best, as it helps remove any debris that accumulates from daily activities.
A change of color on your Maltese’s belly could indicate a harmless pigment change.
While the belly should generally remain pink in Maltese, some dogs may develop areas of pigmentation on their belly known as cow spots.
These spots can be caused by various reasons, with the most common being excessive exposure to the sun.
If you notice any unusual changes, whether in color or texture, it’s always recommended to have a vet examine them to rule out any underlying health issues.
Nose color discoloration can be a sign of a condition called snow nose or winter nose, where the pigment in the dog’s nose fades during colder months.
Unlike with albino Maltese, this is only temporary and usually returns to normal once the weather warms up.
Again, for any other changes in your Maltese’s appearance, such as a persistent change in nose color or skin irritation, it’s important to consult with a veterinarian.
Contrary to popular belief, not all Maltese are white. However, if your Maltese color is significantly different, like brown or black, they’re probably a mixed breed.
While subtle color changes may occur naturally, to maintain the characteristic white coat of a purebred Maltese, frequent grooming and bathing are often necessary.