The Maltese's Origins and History Source: Wikipedia. Country/Region of Origin: unknown, possibly Asia Original purpose: pet Name: associated with the isle of Malta, where a Maltese dog was kept by the Roman governor. Historical notes: It is thought that the Maltese dog breed is descended from a Spitz-type dog and then bred to be small in size. The exact origin is unknown; the breed may have started in Asia. The dog was around in the Roman Empire, and even was mentioned in a poem by Martial. Maltese dogs have been the preferred dog of many monarchs: Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Victoria, Marie Antoinette and Josephine Bonaparte.