Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Weight: under 7 lbs
Height: 7 – 10 inches
Do I shed?: Yes, minimally
Personality: Affectionate, loyal, energetic, smart
Common health problems: Shaker syndrome, periodontal disease, and hypoglycemia
The Maltese is a lovely lap dog, famous for their floor length coats. A Maltese weight is usually less than seven pounds, these luxurious dogs are playful, charming, and adaptable to all sorts of lifestyles. Their bodies are compact, yet athletic despite their short stature. Combine all this with lovely, dark eyes and a matching gumdrop nose and you’ll be in love with this toy dog.
A purebred Maltese is typically white, white and lemon, or white and tan.³ Unlike poodles and other dog breeds, you will be hard pressed to find a Maltese that isn’t some form of white.
Maltese dogs have beautiful straight, thick coats which can fall all the way to the floor. Their coats are easy to care for because they don’t have an undercoat. This means they don’t shed much, making the Maltese hypoallergenic.
It’s recommended that pet parents gently brush their Maltese’s coat every day and comb out any mats or tangles. Take that time to trim their fast growing nails, check their ears, and brush their teeth. If needed, have a groomer cut their coats to a manageable length.
The typical Maltese has small drop ears that hang close to the face. Like other dogs with drop ears, their ears need to be checked regularly for mites, infection, or debris to keep them healthy.
Malteses aren’t heavy droolers. If your Maltese is drooling, it could be a sign of dental issues so be sure to consult your veterinarian about excessive drooling.
What My Adoption Bio Would Say:
I’m looking for a home where naps are a priority and trips to the park are always a firm “yes.” My hobbies include chasing things, playing tricks on my human friends, and being cuter than the dog next door. Let’s get to know each other because I plan on living a long, long time!
The Maltese has a gentle and fearless nature. However, If you’re looking for an independent breed, this is not the one for you; Maltese dogs need a lot of attention. They’re likely to develop separation anxiety and other behavior disorders if they don’t get a sufficient amount of love and attention. If this isn’t an issue for you, then this dog is perfect.
They’re very adaptable dogs who aim to please. They’ll settle into their new home as long as they’re the center of attention.
The Maltese breed is extremely intelligent and relatively easy to train. Their energy level and eager-to-please personality make them excellent competitors in agility or other dog competitions. Some Maltese pups can be quite stubborn, however, so negative reinforcement training methods likely won’t work on this breed.
Do not let the Maltese’s snuggly, teddy-bear like qualities fool you — they’re very energetic. They do well in apartments and small spaces, but you’ll need to walk them every day for at least an hour. If you don’t have an hour, don’t worry, your Maltese will enjoy any activity as long as they get to play with you.
The Maltese breed isn't recommended for families with small children because of their small size. Older children are better companions for this breed. If you’re looking for a good family dog, there are other options that are more resilient and better fit for young kids.
Maltese dogs can get along with other pets so long as they’re socialized properly. They can be dependent on their favorite human, so some Maltese pups may become protective or aggressive to other dogs. Take your time to care for your Maltese with patience to avoid any potential altercations.
Barking is not known to be an issue with a Maltese. Some pups can be quite yappy if improperly trained, but positive reinforcement training can be used to teach them how to be good watchdogs.
Our modern Maltese has been around for longer than you’d think. The first record of a “Melitaie Dog” was recorded by early Greeks around the fourth and fifth centuries.³ Named for the island nation of Malta, these tiny dogs were popular companions of the wealthy who benefited from Malta’s position between ancient Europe, Africa, and Asia. Archaeologists have found Roman literature, toys, paintings, and other evidence of how popular these sweet puppies were.³
Associated with loyalty, the Maltese was gifted to many famous historical figures including the Apostle Paul and Emperor Claudius of Rome. It’s unclear who the first Chinese breeder was to fall in love with the breed, but we can thank them and their peers for keeping the breed alive. Eventually, the American Kennel Club joined the Maltese fanbase by recognizing the breed in 1888.³
Want a cute Maltese with a twist? You’re in luck: the Maltese has been mixed with virtually every dog breed. Check out the following popular mixes:
- Maltipoo A Maltese poodle mix
- Malchi: A Chihuahua and Maltese mix
- Peke-a-tese: A Pekingese and Maltese mix
- Scottese: A Scottish terrier and Maltese mix
- Maltipom: A Pomeranian and Maltese mix
- Mal-Shi: A Maltese shih tzu mix
Maltese are healthy dogs compared to other breeds. However, they aren’t immune to developing allergies, urinary tract infections, or other common health problems that dogs experience. Maltese are at risk for developing other health issues, including3,4:
- Collapsed trachea: This condition affects small dogs who tug their leash too harshly.
- Portosystemic liver shunt: This is a disorder that causes blood vessels to bypass the liver.
- Patellar luxation: This is the dislocation of the kneecap.
- Shaker Syndrome
Experts recommend getting as much medical information for the breeder or adoption organizations before bringing your new puppy home. Responsible dog care takers will be honest with you to ensure that your dog has an excellent quality of life.
Maltese pups live long lives, so it’s best to prepare for the inevitable illnesses that will happen as they age. Malteses need regular teeth brushing with toothpaste formulated for dogs, as well as regular cleanings from veterinarians. In addition to dental care, the Maltese can develop heart anomalies such as patent ductus arteriosus (or PDA), which compromises the blood flow to and from the heart.⁵ A MetLife dog insurance policy may be able to cover the cost of dental and other veterinary care over a Maltese’s lifetime.¹,²
Another common condition your Maltese may develop is shaker syndrome. Sometimes called “Little White Shaker Syndrome,” it is the repetitive, rhythmic, and involuntary muscle movements that cause the dog to shake.⁶ Small dogs under 30 pounds experience this, especially when they are excited or nervous. Scientists haven’t discovered what causes the shaking, but diagnosis includes testing spinal fluid and conducting an MRI to rule out other diseases.
Shaker syndrome is treated with prednisone, a steroid to suppress their immune system. This treatment takes time and may cost thousands of dollars while you and your vet find something that works. Considering health insurance but not sure where to start? Start with our guide on How Pet Insurance Works. You may be able to cover a health concern before it becomes a preexisting condition for your Maltese.