Breed Group: Toy
Height: 8 to 10 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 4 to 7 pounds
Life Span: 15 to 18years
With shoe-button eyes framed by a glistening coat of silky white, the Maltese has earned enduring popularity by combining cute with a lively, bright, and bold personality. Weighing less than seven pounds, these charmers are popular with the purse-dog set.
Did You Know the Maltese Excels at Learning Tricks and Loves to Show Off?
The sweet little Maltese is a favorite of celebrities, including Halle Berry, Heather Locklear, and Eva Longoria. Could it be because they’re so darn cute in photographs? We think so.
The small, spunky Maltese is known for retaining his puppy-like attitude throughout his life. The Maltese is one of a handful of similar breeds whose job has always been that of “companion.” They are specifically designed to love and be loved.
If you want a smart little dog to run you and your home, then this is your breed. Maltese pack a lot of love into their tiny bodies, and are never happier than when cuddling in their owners’ laps. That doesn’t mean these dogs don’t need exercise and training. Resist the impulse to simply carry them everywhere and pluck them out of trouble, and let your dog be a dog. In particular, the Maltese excels at learning tricks and loves to show off.
While the Maltese’s happy, courageous natures make him a wonderful pet for many, this may not be the right dog for families with young children. Maltese are tiny and can easily be injured if play is too rough, or they may snap at a child in self-defense if frightened or hurt.
This is also the wrong breed for someone who wants the look of a show dog with little effort. Those gorgeous creatures floating around the show ring with their gleaming white coats and perfect topknots are the product of endless hours of washing and combing, followed by keeping the coat in wraps for protection. Most pet Maltese are kept clipped short, which means frequent professional grooming. Neglected coats become tangled and matted, which is painful and can lead to serious skin infections.
Those shoe-button eyes may look adorable against the white coat, but that look requires a lot of time spent cleaning away tear stains, which cause a rust discoloration that most people find unsightly even though it’s harmless.
Allergies aren’t harmless, but those who sneeze and wheeze may find this breed more tolerable than others, although Maltese are fully capable of causing an allergic reaction in the most sensitive of sufferers. The size of a Maltese helps limit the amount of dog hair – and dander — to trigger allergies, and a coat kept clean and clipped short will help further. But don’t believe the hype: there’s no such thing as a dog that doesn’t cause allergies at all.
The Maltese was developed exclusively as a companion dog, so he needs to live in the house and never outdoors.
Other Quick Facts About the Maltese
- The Maltese originated in Malta some 2,000 years ago and has always been a companion dog.