A Discussion About Type

by Daryl Martin

Recently I had a phone call from an established breeder with a question about type. With the conversation we had, I felt an excellent topic for this month’s column.

The discussion was on confirming what type is. Interestingly, in one of our dog magazines the same discussion was brought up at around the same time.

Many people confuse type with fashion or their own preferences of what they want to see in a dog. Type in a breed is set and defined by the standard. The description of breed character and correct silhouette, head, movement, coat, and overall balance is told to the breeders by our AKC standard for our breed. The standard is what breeders should be trying to replicate to create our ideal Maltese. The standard is the keeper of our breed. It is written to set the bar and describe what makes our breed specific and different from other breeds!

At one of our national specialties, Mr. Richard Beauchamp gave one of his famous and informative programs about the “five elements of type,” and a breeder stood up and said they liked the baby-doll heads and the big eyes. Mr. Beauchamp’s polite response was, “Then you need to breed another breed, as you are not breeding what your standard call for in a Maltese.” That was so well said.

The standard calls for type in its description of an ideal Maltese. When people say there are different types in parts of the country, they are referring to styles. These terms should not be interchanged. Just because one part of the country may have dogs who are little and small boned, and in other areas the dogs may be bigger, with different heads or coats, that is not referring to type. Yes there is a range without our standards that does not make one style right or wrong, providing it is still within what the standard calls for.

Proper balance is very important, as our standard states in many places that everything is medium, with neither extreme.

There are people who talk about “angles,” but our standard never mentions angles-- or planes, or other terms written in other standards.

It is also interesting to note the styles of topknots used by those who are trying to create round heads and short noses. Again, this is not what our standard calls for. Unfortunately many of the new beauty aids, like hair straighteners and other new products, have been used to change what our dogs look like, and many coats are not what they actually appear. Any breeders who rely on such products are only fooling themselves to the detriment of their breeding programs by creating coat qualities that the dog does not have naturally.

Even though different breeders like different style of dogs, they all should be breeding sound dogs who are of the same type as described by our AKC Maltese standard.

Credit: This article originally appeared in the Maltese column of the December 2017 AKC Gazette and is reprinted with the permission of the author.