The Maltese is one of the most popular Toy breeds in the United States. They are widely recognized as "the little dog with the flowing white coat," and are prized for their small stature.
The aristocrat of the canine world, the Maltese has also been called the Melitaie Dog, Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta, the Roman Ladies' Dog, the Comforter Dog, the Spaniel Gentle, the Maltese Lion Dog and the Maltese Terrier. Their history can be traced back for thousands of years; Charles Darwin even ventured that the origin of the breed was around 6000 BC. Thought to be a descendent of a Spitz-type dog from the Swiss lake region, the exact lineage of the breed is unknown. Associated with the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, an early center of trade from which they gather their name, it is believed that the Maltese made its way throughout the world as bartering chips for supplies. The dogs became favorites of them aristocrats, evolving from its probable rodent-control beginnings to become a companion animal.