Breed of toy dog named for the island of Malta, where it may have originated about 2,800 years ago. Delicate-looking but vigorous, affectionate, and lively, it was once the valued pet of the wealthy and aristocratic. It has a long, silky, pure-white coat, hanging ears, a compact body, and a plumed tail that curves over its back. It stands about 5 in. (13 cm) and weighs up to 7 lbs (3 kg).