Maltese Dog Breed Information & Characteristics

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The Maltese are elegant canines from the Mediterranean island of Malta that have been revered companions for over two millennia. Apart from their charm and diminutive size, the Maltese breed has a rich history and many fascinating traits.

Despite its petite stature, this ancient breed boasts a mighty personality characterized by its lively demeanor, intelligence, and unwavering loyalty to its human counterparts. As we delve into their world, we will uncover a treasure trove of endearing quirks and historical anecdotes that have made them beloved companions.

Breed History And Origin

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The Maltese is an ancient toy breed with a history steeped in nobility and luxury. These elegant dogs are believed to have originated on the Mediterranean island of Malta and were favored by royalty and aristocrats for centuries.

The Maltese are one of the oldest known dog breeds whose lineage can be traced back over 2,000 years. Initially prized in the Mediterranean region, these dogs were often depicted in artwork and literature of the time.

Quick Facts:

  • The Maltese was recognized as a breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1888.
  • The Maltese breed of dogs is closely related to other Bichon-type dogs such as Bichon Frise, Havanese and Bolognese.

Luxurious White Coat

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The Maltese breed of dog is known for its luxurious and silky coat, which is long and flowing. This beautiful coat is typically pure white in color, enhancing the breed's elegant appearance.

Despite its length, their coat lacks an undercoat which makes it more akin to human hair than fur. This means that these dogs shed less compared to breeds like Tibetan Mastiffs, making them a popular choice for individuals with allergies.

Distinctive Features

The Maltese breed dog is a small and compact toy breed with distinctive physical features that contribute to its adorable appearance. Here are some captivating traits that make these dogs even more endearing.

Small Stature

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The dog breeds Maltese is renowned for its small stature, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a compact and portable companion. These canines typically stand around 8 to 10 inches at the shoulder, similar to the Welsh Corgis.

In terms of weight, these dogs weigh between 4 to 7 pounds, however, they possess a robust and sturdy build. Their well-proportioned bodies convey elegance and grace while also making them great travel companions.

Unique Topknot

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One of the most alluring features of the Maltese is their unique top knot which can be adorned with bows, ribbons or jewels. This stylish adornment involves gathering the long hair on top of the head and securing it with a bow or band.

This knot creates a distinctive tuft that stands out against their silky white coat and also symbolizes their royal heritage and captivating allure. Furthermore, it can be styled in various ways, ranging from simple and understated to elaborate and ornate.

Expressive, Dark Eyes

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The Maltese dog breeds are renowned for their captivating and expressive eyes, which are often described as soulful and full of warmth. The large, dark eyes of these canines radiate intelligence, curiosity and affection.

Their almond-shaped eyes are set symmetrically on their delicate face, enhancing their sweet and endearing expression. Whether pleading for attention, expressing joy at a reunion, or displaying empathy in times of distress, these dogs can communicate with their eyes.

Charming Personality

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Lively and Fearless

Despite their small size, the breed of dog Maltese are lively and fearless, often displaying a surprising amount of courage. These pint-sized pups pack a punch of personality and take on any challenge with a spirited attitude.

Their lively nature makes them fantastic companions for families and individuals alike, bringing boundless energy and joy into their homes. Their zest for life is evident in their activities such as prancing around the house and greeting new friends with a wagging tail.

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Affectionate and Devoted

One very endearing aspect of the Maltese personality is that they are affectionate and devoted to their families, making them excellent companions. These little furballs are cherished members who shower their owners with unconditional love and loyalty.

Their affection knows no bounds, as they thrive on being close to their loved ones, whether cuddling on the couch or following their owners around the house. They also have a knack for sensing their owners' emotions, offering comfort and companionship at difficult times.

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Gentle Temperament

The Maltese dogs boast a gentle temperament and are exceptionally good with children which makes them ideal family pets. Their small size and gentle demeanor make them perfect playmates for kids as they patiently tolerate even the most enthusiastic play sessions.

Whether engaged in lively games or simply snuggled up for a nap, these furry friends exhibit a natural affinity for children. Their infectious energy and zest for life infuse every moment with laughter and fun.

Quick Fact: Maltese dogs can suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

Maltese Are Highly Trainable

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Intelligence and trainability are two of the prominent and defining characteristics of the Maltese puppy dog, just like the Pomeranian dogs. These canines possess a sharp sense of observation, quickly grasping commands and eagerly awaiting their next challenge.

Their keen intellect and eagerness to please make them ideal candidates for various canine sports and activities, from agility to obedience trials. With patience, consistency and positive reinforcement, these clever companions thrive in mastering new skills and forming strong bonds with their human counterparts.

Moderate Energy Level

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Despite their small size, dog Maltese puppies typically exhibit a moderate energy level, striking a balance between bursts of activity and relaxation. This makes them adaptable to various living situations, whether in a spacious home or a compact apartment.

Regular walks and play sessions cater to their exercise needs which keeps them mentally and physically stimulated without overwhelming them. They enjoy short bursts of play but are also equally content curling up in their owner's lap for a cozy nap.

Life Expectancy

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The lifespan of a Maltese dog typically ranges from 12 to 15 years, although some may live even longer with proper care and genetics. This breed is known for its longevity, often staying healthy and active well into their senior years.

Providing regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, exercise and a loving environment can contribute to ensuring your pup lives a long and happy life by your side.

Dietary Needs

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The Maltese puppy dogs have specific dietary needs to support their health and well-being. As small breeds like the Pugs, they require a diet rich in high-quality proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to maintain their energy levels and overall health.

Creating a feeding routine for your Maltese can help maintain their health and prevent potential issues like obesity or hypoglycemia. Here is a sample feeding schedule:

  1. Morning - Offer a small portion of high-quality dry kibble formulated for small breeds. Ensure fresh water is available at all times.
  2. Midday Snack - Provide a small snack or treat to help maintain energy levels throughout the day. Consider offering a piece of fruit or a few pieces of dog-safe vegetables as a healthy option.
  3. Afternoon - Offer another small portion of dry kibble or a small meal to prevent hunger and maintain energy levels.
  4. Evening - Provide the final meal of the day, similar to the morning feeding. Avoid feeding too close to bedtime to prevent digestive issues or discomfort during the night.

Common Health Problems

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The Maltese is a healthy canine breed with a robust physique, however, they can be prone to certain health issues and can be sensitive to certain medications and anesthesia. Here are some common health problems these canines are susceptible to:

Dental Problems

  • Due to their small mouths and overcrowded teeth, these canines are prone to dental issues such as tartar buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay.
  • Regular dental care including brushing their teeth and providing dental treats, is essential to maintain their oral health.

Respiratory Issues

  • Maltese dogs may suffer from respiratory problems such as reverse sneezing, and a rapid and noisy inhalation through the nose.
  • Another issues includes tracheal collapse, where the windpipe narrows or collapses, making breathing difficult. 

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Patellar Luxation

  • This is a condition where the kneecap (patella) slips out of place, causing discomfort and lameness.
  • This issue can range from mild to severe and may require surgical intervention in severe cases.


  • Maltese puppies are particularly susceptible to hypoglycemia, a condition characterized by low blood sugar levels that leads to weakness, seizures and even coma.
  • This can occur if they do not eat frequently enough or have difficulty regulating their blood sugar levels.

Care Guide For The Maltese

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The best way to take care of your Maltese pup is by creating a routine and following it consistently. This multifaceted approach helps owners to address the unique needs of their pup without any fuss.


Developing a comprehensive grooming routine for Maltese pups is crucial to maintaining their signature luxurious coats and overall well-being. It involves the following steps:

1. Daily Brushing - Start by gently brushing their coat daily with a slicker brush or comb to prevent tangles and mats. Focus on one section at a time, ensuring you reach the skin to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils.

2. Bath Time - Bath your pup every three to four weeks using a mild, hypoallergenic dog shampoo. Thoroughly rinse to prevent residue buildup, which can irritate their sensitive skin.

3. Facial Care - Pay special attention to their facial area as tear stains are common in these dogs. Gently wipe around their eyes with a damp cloth daily to remove any discharge and prevent staining.

4. Dental Care - Brush their teeth several times a week with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to prevent dental issues. Dental chews or toys can also help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

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Despite their small size, Maltese canines enjoy regular walks and playtime. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, but be mindful of their delicate structure and avoid activities that may strain their joints.

Mental Stimulation

Keep your pup mentally stimulated with interactive toys, puzzle feeders and training sessions. This helps prevent boredom and encourages good behavior.

Socialization and Training

The Maltese thrive on companionship and enjoy being part of the family. Socialize them from a young age with different people, pets and environments to prevent shyness or aggression.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups with a veterinarian are vital for preventive care and early detection of any health issues. Stay up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite prevention and schedule dental cleanings as recommended by your vet.

For Buying Or Adopting A Maltese Dog

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  • Buying Price: $1,500 to $4,000
  • Adoption Fee: $100 to $600

If you are planning to buy or adopt a Maltese dog, then research well about the breeders nearby you and gather some basic ideas about their breeding practices. Always visit reputable organizations and rescue groups to begin your quest.

1. American Maltese Association Rescue: Dedicated to rescuing and rehoming Maltese dogs in need across the country, this organization ensures that the dogs are placed in loving and responsible homes.

2. American Kennel Club (AKC) Breeders: The AKC provides a list of breeders who adhere to their strict guidelines and standards for breeding practices, ensuring the health and well-being of the dogs.

3. Maltese Rescue California: This rescue organization specifically focuses on rescuing Maltese dogs in California, providing them with necessary medical care and finding them suitable forever homes.

4. Maltese Rescue Michigan: Similar to Maltese Rescue California, this organization operates in Michigan, rescuing and rehoming Maltese dogs in the state.

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