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Maltese Origin
by Larry Stanberry

Although the exact origins of the breed are still debated today the fact remains that Darwin, himself, the Father of the Theory of Evolution, placed it at about 6000 B.C. - eight thousand years ago !!! The Maltese decended from a Spitz-like dog which was then bred for hunting in the marsh and wooded areas of Southern Europe. Eventually, the dog was carried southward into the Mediterranean Sea area and also into the Far East. Historical evidence leads one to believe that the Maltese may well have been introduced into the gene pools of the Lhasa Apso, the Tibetan Terrier, the Tibetan Spaniel, and even the Pekingese - helping to shape the eventual evolution of these truly ancient breeds of dogs. Hard acheological evidence places the Maltese in a prominent place in Egyptian culture around 300 to 600 B.C. where they were virtually worshipped as members of the royal families. Maltese images were found on Greek vases dated around 500 B.C. and the first known written history of the breed was actually authored by the Greek philosopher Aristotle around 350 B.C., where he attributed the origin of the breed to the Island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea - hence the name "Maltese". The origin of the Maltese has also been attributed by other historians to the Italian town of "Melitae", which could have also given rise to "Maltese" for a breed name. Through time the Maltese has been labeled with many names - as the "Melitae Dog"; as "Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta"; as "The Roman Ladies' Dog"; as well as being called the "Comforter"; the "Spaniel Gentle"; and the "Bichon" (not to be confused with the modern breed, the Bichon Frise, which may also have been developed partly from the Maltese). The Breed has also been known as "The Shock Dog"; the "Maltese Lion Dog"; and more recently as "The Maltese Terrier" before it simply became shortened to the "Maltese".

Most of this information came from my own investigation into the History and Evolution of the breed - particularly from a book by Nick Cutillo titled THE COMPLETE MALTESE

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