Origins of the breed
There is little debate that these dogs are some of the oldest breeds in the world. Their ancestors are known to have lived in the ports and maritime cities of the central Mediterranean, where they hunted mice and rats that were found in the harbours’ warehouses and in the hold of ships.
In a list of dogs that existed at the time of Aristotle, a breed of little dogs is mentioned with the Latin name, Canes Melitenses. In Ancient Rome this dog was a favoured companion of the matrons. Representations of the Maltese by numerous Renaissance painters show this little dog in the salons of the period at the side of beautiful ladies of the time.