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Maltese Breed Information

toy maltese puppy wearing a leash

Sweet, playful, and one of the best cuddle buddies you could wish for, the Maltese makes a perfect addition to any family. Maltese pups are joy bringers that live on attention, games, and love. They are a small, purebred dog breed that is bred for companionship. 

This amazing breed has an amazing, friendly personality that is rarely matched by other dogs. The Maltese love cats, dogs, people, kids of all ages, and even strangers. Getting along with everyone is easy for them as their nature is quite outgoing. 

When it comes to training and family life at home, the Maltese is a perfect example of a naturally well-behaved dog. This pooch is small to toy-sized (fitting quite well in any living space) and has a high intelligence level that makes training effortless. 

BREED TYPE / MIX Purebred ENERGY Moderate SHEDDING Minimum TRAINING Determined TEMPERAMENT Affectionate, Gentle, Intelligent, Loving, Playful ADULT WEIGHT 4-7 lbs ADULT HEIGHT 9-10 in LIFE SPAN 12-15 yrs

Characteristics

  • The Maltese dog is one of the most popular toy-sized purebred dog breeds in the world 
  • The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club since 1888 
  • Maltese puppies are renowned for their friendliness and high intelligence. They train easily and are quick to make friends with others, be them cats, dogs, people, or kids 
  • Depending on their coat length, they can be high or low-maintenance when it comes to grooming 
  • The hypoallergenic Maltese coat has allergy-friendly qualities 
  • As one of the best-behaved dogs in the canine kingdom, the Maltese makes a fantastic companion pet for any dog lover. Their toy size makes them an excellent fit for apartment-living 
  • Sweet, adoring, and attentive to those in need, the Maltese make perfect little therapy dogs 
  • Healthy and happy dogs, the Maltese are a long-lived dog breed that has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years 
long hair maltese dog sitting on the floor next to a couch

Appearance

A glamourous and charming little dog, the Maltese is impossible to resist. This small pooch will enchant everyone it meets with its dark, expressive eyes, boopy nose, and silky white coat.  

The Maltese are part of the AKC’s toy group, standing at 9 to 10 inches tall and weighing between 4 and 7 pounds as adults. They are one of the cutest and cuddliest lapdogs. Their small, compact size is adorable, but it’s not their only heart-melting feature. Other features they charm with include their cute floppy ears that hang close to the face, sturdy build, and adorable, bouncy paws. Their demeanor is adoring and approachable, and they have a slight bounce to their step that makes them appear quite playful and ready for a friendly chase.  

When it comes to their beautiful white coat, the Maltese will grow their hair quite long when left uncut. They sport the long coat wonderfully, but they’re also impossibly cute with a puppy cut or a teddy bear haircut. The coat is non-shedding and has great hypoallergenic properties, making these dogs excellent pets for allergy-suffering owners. 

Temperament

The Maltese is the type of dog that effortlessly checks all the boxes for brains, looks, and personality. Being as friendly as they are, these dogs just love everyone they are introduced to. They are fantastic with small children, playful with other dogs, and open to meeting new people.  

Near their owners is where they thrive best, given their affectionate nature and loyalty. Their intelligence and trainability make them excellent little pets for all owners, including novice ones who’ve never owned a pet.  

Some of the Maltese dog’s favorite things to do include playing with their chew toys, chasing their friends at the dog park, and spending time with their owners. Cuddling is also high on that list.  

Maltese dogs often lack aggression, but over-spoiling them can bring out some unpleasant behavior like stubbornness or clinginess. They are typically independent and do well when left alone, but they should always receive training during puppyhood to ensure they transition well into adulthood. 

Care

Grooming

The Maltese is renowned for its gorgeous, long, perfectly white coat that never stops growing. And with a stunning coat like that, comes some effort in maintaining it. If you opt to keep your Maltese with long hair, grooming will include daily or bi-daily hair brushing and regular baths. The famous puppy-cut Maltese look requires one or two weekly brushes and a bath every 2 months.  

To keep your Maltese looking and feeling their best, it is recommended to brush their teeth as often as possible and make sure their nails are clipped short so as not to cause discomfort.  

Because they are a pure white breed, the Maltese may develop tear stains, which can be hard to remove once they form. It is best to wipe their eyes regularly with a damp cloth, daily, if possible, to avoid tear stains.  

Exercise Needs

Although they are quite small, Maltese dogs have plenty of spunk and energy to spend. They enjoy running and chasing their favorite toys and are also fond of going on family adventures in the great outdoors. For most Maltese, two daily walks will suffice to help them burn energy and get in their exercise. Some tend to be more active or hyperactive and will require up to an hour of daily walks and exercise. 

Health

The Maltese is one of the healthiest little dogs, having very few health problems for their owners to worry about. They typically live long, prosperous lives without running into any health concerns.  Among their most common health issues are progressive vision loss during their senior years, dental issues such as tartar build-up and gum disease, luxating patellar, and white dog shaker syndrome.  

To make sure they thrive and are happy, healthy dogs, it is recommended to visit the vet regularly for check-ups.  

Lifespan

As a healthy dog breed that is rarely known to suffer from serious health problems, the Maltese has one of the biggest lifespans among small dogs. The average life expectancy for these dogs is between 12 and 15 years, however, there are quite a few that live well past that number. The oldest Maltese to have ever lived reached the beautiful age of 20 years.  

Providing your Maltese with a good diet that consists of healthy and high-quality dog food, and making sure they are exercised daily, can increase their lifespan up to 18 years. Regular vet checks are also recommended to make sure they remain healthy throughout their lives. 

Training

With their high intelligence and eager-to-please personalities, the Maltese are one of the easiest puppies to train. Not only are they incredibly fond of the attention that comes with training, but they are also quite passionate about learning.  

When training Maltese puppies, it’s best to use positive reinforcement and reward-based methods. They love treats and will do most of the work themselves if they are properly motivated. Their training sessions should also include games they love and praise. Learning through play will work best and will be the most fun for both you and your puppy.   

Although they are fond of attention and would prefer not to be parted from their owners, Maltese dogs aren’t known to suffer from separation anxiety. They do well on their own when left alone for a few hours. If you are unsure that your puppy will be ok alone, it's best to practice leaving them alone while they are still young puppies.  

History

The Maltese is one of the oldest dog breeds to walk the earth. The breed originated more than just a few centuries ago, being around in the era of pharaohs and ancient Roman empires. There are countless depictions of the Maltese in all corners of the world, dating back as far as a thousand years.  

As their name suggests, the Maltese are believed to have originated on the Isle of Malta on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Maltese people cherished them as we do today, even though it was unusual at the time to house a pet solely for companionship. From Malta, the cute white dogs made their way across the world, conquering hearts wherever they landed.  

Europe has been quite fond of Maltese dogs throughout history. These were the favorite pets in many royal homes across the continent. Prominent names like Queen Victoria, King Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth I, were among the breed’s fans. The 1800s were a top century for the Maltese, as they were deemed the “living jewels” by the ladies of the court. It is said, that during those times, royalty and high society ladies would carry their white dogs around on their sleeves as a statement of wealth. 

As soon as the breed reached the United States, its popularity thrived more than ever. The Maltese were accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1888 and soon became one of America’s sweetheart dogs. Since the 90s, the Maltese have also become a parent breed to other favorites in the world of dogs. The Morkie, Maltipoo, Mal-Chi, and Maltipom are all hybrid designer dogs that have a purebred Maltese parent.  

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