The Maltese originated from Malta, Sicily. It is believed that this toy breed was brought to Malta by the Phoenicians who ruled the Mediterranean before Greece came to power.

The Maltese belongs to the UKC Companion Group and the AKC Toy Group. The playful and gentle Maltese is one of the numerous bichon breeds that’s found around the Mediterranean. This breed is recognized by the AKC in 1888 and is the AKC’s 42nd breed.

5 to 8 inches
4 to 7 pounds
life span
12 to 14 years
Companion Group
Toy Group
Adapts Well to Apartment Living
Good For Novice Owners
Sensitivity Level
Tolerates Being Alone
Tolerates Cold Weather
Tolerates Hot Weather
Affectionate with Family
Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs
Dog Friendly
Friendly Toward Strangers
Amount Of Shedding
Drooling Potential
Easy To Groom
General Health
Potential For Weight Gain
Easy To Train
Potential For Mouthiness
Prey Drive
Tendency To Bark Or Howl
Wanderlust Potential
Energy Level
Exercise Needs
Potential For Playfulness

Brief History

The fearless and gentle Maltese is a Bichon breed found around the Mediterranean. This breed is around 2,000 years old and was favored as a companion dog by the nobility. The Greeks adored this dog breed, as did ancient authors. They even erected tombs for their dogs. English travelers brought home the Maltese during the 16th and 17th centuries. That said, this terrific dog breed only arrived in the U.S in the late 19th century.

Physical Description

The delightful, soft, and fluffy Maltese has a compact body equal in length and height. With a medium-sized head carrying a slightly rounded skull, the Maltese have a firm jaw. The nose is tiny and black. Eyes are round, dark, and curious. Ears are drop ears that are set low. The tail is long and plumey and is carried arched over the back.

The Maltese has a single coat that is soft and silky. This coat hangs on either side of the body. There is long hair on the head, which is usually tied up or trimmed. The Maltese are a white toy dog breed, yet some may have light tan or lemon on the ears.


Cute Maltese puppy

The Maltese are gentle and trusting. This delightful dog breed is playful and intelligent. The Maltese are one of the gentlest, most trusting breeds among all dog breeds. This breed tends to become anxious and may be prone to thunderstorm phobia.

Children need to be gentle around the Maltese. The AKC explains that the Maltese is ” For all his diminutive size, the Maltese seems to be without fear. His trust and affectionate responsiveness are very appealing. He is among the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, yet he is lively and playful as well as vigorous.”

The Maltese loves being around his pet parent and enjoys being out and about. That means trips to the doggie beach, mall, and, of course, Starbucks for a Puppuccino!

The Maltese enjoys taking part in daily activities and dislikes being left home alone. The playful Maltese may be somewhat wary of strangers but makes friends easily with other dogs and people. This breed enjoys travel by car and should never fly in cargo due to the species being relatively small and fragile and prone to anxiousness.

The Maltese needs to be socialized from puppyhood and does well with positive dog training classes starting during puppyhood. All training needs to be tailored around the Maltese’s sensitive temperament, with plenty of positive reinforcement.

Special Needs

The Maltese needs lots of attention and love. The long white coat needs daily combing and soft grooming to prevent tangles. Unique grooming products can be used to keep the coat very white. The Maltese need daily exercise and frequent exposure to other people and dogs.

Socialization is essential to the Maltese as a breed. This charming breed is susceptible to other people’s moods and needs gentle care with positive training. This should be started during puppyhood.

Possible Health Concerns

Veterinarian examines small puppy

The Maltese is a healthy dog breed, yet may be prone to the following:

  • Collapsing Trachea. This is common in small toy and miniature breeds like the Maltese. The cause is unknown. Symptoms are a dry, chronic cough and labored breathing. This condition mainly occurs in obese dogs and those with heart or lung disease. Consult with your veterinarian for advice. Management of this condition includes weight loss, cough suppressants, antibiotics, and corticosteroids.
  • Skin Allergies, also known as atopy, occurs when the skin overreacts to specific allergens. These are mostly inhaled like dust mites, pollen, mold, or dander. Dogs also suffer from dog food allergies. Your veterinarian will determine the source of the allergy.
  • White Shaker Dog Syndrome. This disorder develops suddenly in small white dogs. It is an all-over tremor that affects dogs. This becomes worse over three days but gets better after treatment has begun. Immediate veterinary consultation is required. Treatment includes corticosteroids and/or benzodiazepines.


The Maltese needs daily exercise. This breed is an active breed that enjoys being out and about. Trips to Whole Foods are always welcome. This small in-your-pocket breed just back will go anywhere to be near his or her pet parent. Daily exercise helps with anxiety that this small breed may be prone to.


Maltese eating his food

The Maltese do well with a high-quality diet that is either home-prepared or commercial. The diet should be geared towards the dog’s life stage and any medical conditions that this breed may have. All home-cooked diets need to be approved by your veterinarian. The Maltese may be prone to obesity, so low-fat natural treats are favored.

Calorie consumption needs to be monitored. Providing the correct amount of supplements, fresh fruits, and vegetables will keep your Maltese healthy. Check the dangerous foods for dogs list to ensure that you never feed your Maltese a dangerous human food.

Opt for the highest-quality dog food that you can afford with chicken, beef, or lamb as the first ingredient. If your Maltese suffers from allergies, consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate grain-free diet. Never underestimate the importance of good nutrition, health, and brain health in your Maltese!


Routine daily grooming will keep your Maltese’s coat in tip-top condition. The Maltese can be prone to mats and tangles and needs frequent bathing, combing, and grooming. This breed enjoys regular baths. Twice yearly visits the veterinarian for dental hygiene maintenance is a must. Smaller dog breeds tend to suffer from dental issues more frequently than larger breeds.

Ears also need to be regularly wiped and nails trimmed. Consult with your veterinarian if your Maltese has lots of tear-staining around the eyes. There are also unique products on the market, especially for tear-staining.

Adopting a Maltese

Maltese among Soap Bubbles

The fun-loving Maltese makes for an incredible adoption. This breed is a terrific family dog. Not only is the Maltese a family dog that enjoys being around every family member, but he is also an enjoyable dog breed to have at home.

Your Maltese will be an excellent companion! When adopting a Maltese, you’ll need to spend some time with him before. Although you’ll probably want to bring him home right away, the Maltese may have some anxiety issues. It takes time for any dog to adjust to a new home and new furry best friends. It’s also vital that young children learn to be gentle when handling dogs.

If you’re adopting a Maltese puppy, you’ll need to begin the socialization process, most especially if your puppy is shy and fearful of other people and animals. After adoption, you may even contemplate starting some canine sport together. Keep in mind that this makes for a much happier and healthier dog.

As always, if you’re having issues with your furry best friend, there’s plenty of online dog training classes via Skype, as well as on-site classes. A combination of both will give you both the opportunity to overcome any quirky behavior. Never give up! With lots of dog toys, exercise, love, and positive dog training, you’ll discourage any negative behaviors in this delightful breed.

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