Maltese Breed Magazine - Top Notch Toys



T he Maltese dog, once called “The Jewels of Women,” is an ancient breed thought to be over 2,000 years old. The breed is generally believed to be from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea, but the exact origin is uncer- tain. Called “Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta,” Maltese have adorned the laps of royalty throughout the ages. Images depicting the dog have been found on ancient Greek and Roman pottery and men- tioned in the writings of philosophers of the time. During the time of the Apostle Paul, the Roman Governor, Publius, owned a Maltese named Issa, and the poet, Martial, wrote this epigram of the dog: Issa is naughtier than Catullus’ sparrow Issa is purer than a Dove’s kiss Issa is more coaxing than any maid Issa is more precious than Indian pearls, Issa is Publius’ darling lap dog If she whines, you’ll think she is speaking, she feels sadness and joy. The Maltese came to America, primarily from Europe, during the latter part of the 1800s, with the first entry of a Maltese at Westmin- ster in 1877. And in 1894, according to the Westminster website, the famous American journalist, Nellie Bly, entered her Maltese at Westminster some four years after she made a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes, racing the record of Phineas Fogg in Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days . The AKC Stud Books show that the first Maltese entry in 1888 was two bitches; Topsy—an import, and Snips—origin unknown. While owners of Maltese exhibiting during the latter part of that cen- tury are known, the breeders and pedigrees are, unfortunately, lost. Fast forward to the 1930s, a distemper outbreak all but eradi- cated the breed from the US. A few very dedicated Maltese breeders worked to bring the breed back from near extinction here in Amer- ica. One of these breeders, Dr. Vincenzo Calvaresi of Villa Malta Kennels, imported dogs from Ireland and Italy. The Italian dogs, Int. Am. CH Electa Brio, Italian CH Electa Laila, and Italian CH Electa Pampi, are in many of the American Maltese pedigrees today. Up until the time Dr. Calvaresi began to exhibit, Maltese were shown in an unkempt manner as many of the photographs of the time show. He started grooming the coats and tying the hair into rudimentary topknots. Dr. Calvaresi was famous for showing four-dog braces and, at the 1952 Westminster show, Villa Malta won their 18th Best Brace in Show. The Maltese of this era, and for several decades to come, looked more coarse and less refined than the Maltese of today.

In the early 1960s, there were two national Maltese clubs; The Maltese Dog Club of America and the Maltese Dog Fan- ciers of America. These two clubs merged in 1962 and formed the AKC-recognized parent club, The American Maltese Asso- ciation. The ‘60s also ushered in the decade of the Maltese at Westminster, with a Maltese winning for the first time in the club’s history in 1964, and again in 1966. A force to be reckoned with during the 1960s was CH Aennchen’s Poona Dancer, bred by Aennchen and Tony Antonelli and owned by Larry Ward and Frank Oberstar. “Poona” broke all previous Maltese records and amassed 38 BIS, two American Maltese Association National Specialty BISS, and won the Group at Westminster in 1966. In addition to being a Top 10 Toy in 1966 and 1967, and a Top 10 All-Breed in 1967 and 1968, she was named the official mascot of the Navy’s U.S.S. Lenawee. The 1970s was also a good decade for Maltese. CH Joanne- Chen’s Maya Dancer won the Toy Group at Westminster in 1972 and ‘73 and was the National Specialty winner in 1972. “Maya” was bred by Joanne Hesse, owned by Mamie Gregory, and shown by the late and much beloved Peggy Hogg. Maya went on to beat Poona’s record and won an impressive 43 BIS and 134 Group Firsts. He was the top-winning Toy Group winner for 1972 and ‘73. In the late ‘70s, a Maya grandson hit the scene and broke the Group-winning record of Poona and Maya. CH Joanne-Chen’s Mino Maya Dancer went on to break Group-winning records for Maltese with 150 Group Firsts and 34 BIS. “Mino” was owned by Blanche Tenerowicz and handled by Daryl Martin. He won the National Specialty in 1980 and 1981 and was the Top Toy in 1980. Mino can be found in many Maltese pedigrees today. Other Maltese of that decade that left their imprint were CH Pendleton’s Jewel, who won the National Specialty three years in a row, CH Malone’s Snowy Roxann, who won 51 BIS and 52 Group Firsts in her short career, and CH Oakridge Country Charmer, who ended the decade with two National Specialty wins and 23 BIS. “Charmer” proved to be prepotent and pro- duced numerous champion get and a multi-BIS daughter. During the 1980s, the look became more polished and ele- gant as the grooming style changed. Many of the top Maltese in the past had “the look” of a bouffant hairdo, with the hair stand- ing out like an “A-Frame.” This was due, in large part, to the fact that there wasn’t the vast array of grooming supplies available then that is obtainable now. Their topknots were placed farther


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