Top dogs, Malta’s favouritesLiz Mallia
Welcome to Malta: a group of islands (principally, Malta and Gozo) that make up a small republic in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. Perhaps most famous as a holiday destination and film location. Malta is beloved by dog owners for its beautiful rocky beaches and quiet countryside, which are perfect for long walks with canine companions. Oddly enough, the Maltese dog, a toy animal with beautiful white fur, is not very common in Malta. But some of the more popular breeds may surprise you. Here are top dogs, Malta likes:
German Shepherd Dog
These dogs are very popular in Malta, particularly the short haired variety. Their intelligence and beauty makes them very popular, and most are able to adapt to the hot climate. German shepherd mixes are also popular, as they tend to very hardy.
This solidly-built short haired dog is very popular. Many people are attracted to the dog’s tough appearance and friendly character. Despite their tough appearance, these dogs are very friendly and good with children, making them popular dogs for families. The main disadvantage is that the Boxer’s short muzzle makes it more prone to overheating. It can be a big problem during the hot Maltese summer. Maltese dog owners are advised to keep their dog in a cool area during the hottest hours and to provide plenty of fresh water.
These plucky little pooches are sometimes called “Kelb tal-But” or “pocket dogs” due to their small size. As more and more people move into apartments and maisonettes, toy breeds become more popular, as they can live comfortably in smaller spaces, and often cost less to keep than larger dogs. These strong-willed yet affectionate little dogs originated in Mexico, and thus cope well with the summer heat.
Smooth coated fox terriers can often be seen around the villages and farms of Malta and Gozo. On farms, these dogs are prized for their ability to deal with pests such as rats and mice. They are energetic and agile, and will happily run around the farm all day. Fox terriers are more commonly seen in villages, as village houses often have more space to run around in, as well as large stretches of countryside perfect for long walks.
This is the last dog you’d think to find in Malta. The long fur and Arctic origins make the Husky somewhat incongruous in Mediterranean surroundings, yet they are quite popular in Malta, perhaps due to their beauty and character. Although the summer heat can be an issue, it is recommended not to clip these dogs; instead, it is better to keep Huskies inside an air-conditioned space, and to only walk them in the early morning and evening, avoiding the worst of the summer heat.
“Kelb Tal-Kaċċa” (pronounced kelb tal kach-cha) means “hunting dog”, and refers to the Pointer-like dogs used for hunting in Malta. Due to genetic isolation, the modern Tal-Kaċċa may be considered genetically pure, and local organisations are trying to get the breed recognised internationally, including preparing an official breed standard. The Kelb Tal-Kaċċa is a medium sized dog and resembles a Pointer. They tend to have gentle temperaments and be quite easy to train – important traits for a hunting dog, though they also make excellent pets.
The national dog of Malta is also called Kelb tal-Fenek, or Rabbit Dog, most likely due to their hunting ability. Some believe it is also due to the shape of their ears. Believed that the Phoenicians have brought to the Maltese islands two thousand years ago. Pharoah hounds are striking dogs with an orange/red coat, sometimes marked with white on the chest, and golden eyes. Intelligent yet sensitive, these dogs are very hardy and cope well with the heat and humidity of their native land. They are excellent hunting dogs, but also excel at canine agility.
This wrinkly-faced little dog is very popular in Malta, probably due to their small size and appealing appearance. Stubborn yet sweet-tempered, they make excellent family pets. Unfortunately, their short muzzles make them more prone to heat stroke, especially in the hot Mediterranean summer. Keeping them in a cool environment and only walking them in the cooler hours of the day helps to keep Maltese pugs healthy.