Maltese Dog Breed – The Maltese Temperament

Maltese Puppies For Sale – Things You Need To Know First

The Maltese Dog is recognised as a breed in 1888 by the AKC. Maltese are toy sized dogs that weigh less than seven pounds. The breed has only one colour which is white. A typical Malteses is covered by a long, silky furry coat. Under the white soft flowy coat is a charming enchanting pet awaiting for your affection. But before you rush out to get that Maltese dog for sale, it pays to know more about maltese dogs.

The Maltese Dog has a face with big round dark eyes and a black gumdrop nose. It has survived for almost three millennia and remains largely unchanged today.

The Size of The Maltese dog

A normal maltese dog should weigh between 4-6 pounds, no more than 7 pounds. Male Malteses should measure 8 to 10 inches in height (till shoulder), while female Malteses should be 8 – 9 inches tall. You should not encourage the breeding of tea cup Malteses by purchasing them. Though cute, teacup malteses are known to have genetic issues. Such disorders will only cause your maltese to have a  shorter lifespan.

The History of The Maltese Dog Breed

Watch this video for an introduction to the Maltese breed:

The Maltese dog is deemed to be an ancient dog of Malta, a place well known in the canine world for centuries. Though the origins are never confirmed, it is widely believed that the Maltese dog originated from Spitz or Spaniel type dogs. There were also other beliefs that the Maltese dog came from Asia or Italy. There were theories that many of the smaller dogs in Asia came from the development of the Maltese dogs.

Maltese dogs are well known even in the ancient times, where the Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese dogs. And these acts are based on historical evidence witnessed on ceramic art originated in the 5th century. There were also many paintings of the Maltese dog during ancient times.

In Rome and Egypt, artists and poets had expressions about these small dogs. The Maltese was even mentioned by Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Ancient Egyptians believed that the Maltese had the ability to cure people of illnesses and would position a maltese beside the pillow of the sick person. This practice was later adopted by many Europeans centuries later. Thus, the Maltese Dog was also known as “The Comforter”.

Watch the Smart Maltese Dog doing numerous dog tricks below:

The Maltese Dog Through the Centuries

The Maltese Dog was common in Mediterranean Cultures before the Christian era. By the 15th Century, the French people, especially those of higher status in society, started keeping Maltese dogs as companions. By the end of the 16th Century, the Maltese dog is a favourite pet for the ladies in the higher echelons of society. Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Victoria are all noteworthy owners of the Maltese dog. In some paintings, you can see malteses being included and nestled in the arms of their proud owners.

However, the maltese breed almost went astray during the 17th and 18th centuries when people started to create an even smaller version of the dog. There were attempts to produce a squirrel sized maltese dog. It was an experiment that went awry. And to save the breed, breeders started to mix many other breeds together, like poodles and miniature spaniels. The outcome was the creation of the breeds we know today like Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Havanese.

The current breed of Maltese we know today can be traced back to the English breeders. Majority of the malteses in US can be traced back to the English imports. It is not until the 1950s that the popularity of maltese dogs soared. And since then, the Maltese dog breed has been a strong feature in dog shows within the Toy Group. Their place in the “Best in Show” category is unrivalled.

The Temperament of The Maltese Dog

The Maltese dog is a lively and sensible dog. Maltese dogs love the life of luxury and appreciate any form of comfort afforded to them. They are alert watchdogs and will sound the alarm when anything alien passes by. A Maltese bark can turn fiesty in alarming situations. Maltese dogs excel well in agility tests and are fast learners to basic dog commands. They can be adventurous though, and require proper training before they can be let off the leash.

The Maltese dog also excels as a loyal companion, a therapy dog and a competitive dog. Malteses have performed well in agility tests, obedience competitions, rally and even tracking. It is a social dog that wants to make new friends. Maltese can be playful and curious. They love to be held by you.

Invest time in bringing your young maltese out for walks, dog parks and making new friends. This will go a long way in having a balanced dog over the years.

Due to the small size of the Maltese, it is one of the most popular dogs for owners living in apartments. Generally, Malteses are quiet dogs and are fairly calm indoors, thus they make an excellent choice for dog owners who stay in an apartment.

Malteses shed little and are suitable for young kids. They are lively and fast to recognise who are the friends of their owners. They can be stubborn to train and needs a firm owner to guide along. Malteses respond well to positive training methods like the clicker method and rewards based training. Overall, the Maltese dog is an incredibly cute dog with a bright and chirpy personality. It is a great addition to the family as a loving pet.

Does the Maltese get along with other Dogs breeds?

Here’s an example of a Maltese wanting to play with the giant Husky:

The Maltese dog can be territorial and display some aggression towards a newly introduced playmate. It is advisable for the dogs to be supervised during the initial introduction. Firm and confident guidance should be given. Lines must be drawn to what is acceptable and what is not. Care must be taken to protect your maltese from physical fights as it is small in size and often fragile in a fight.

Common Health Issues With Maltese Dogs:

Health is generally alright with Maltese dogs. However, some conditions are peculiar to the maltese breed. Thus it is important that you are aware of them and ask about them before you get your puppy from your reputable breeder.

Remember to ask from the breeder the health clearances for the puppy’s parents. Make sure that the dogs have been tested for and cleared of any conditions.

Common recognised health clearances include the Orthopedic Foundation for Animal for hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand’s disease, from Auburn University for thrombopathia; from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation for the condition of the eyes. For publicly available information, you can check out the OFA website @

Here are some common health conditions your need to look out for when selecting your maltese puppy. Bear in mind that it is the health of the parents you are looking for if you are buying a puppy. Because some of the symptoms will not manifest till late in your puppy’s life.

Patellar Luxation: Patella refers to the kneecap. Luxation is the dislocation of a joint. Patellar luxations occurs when the knee joint slides out of place, causing discomfort and pain to your dog. This can happen occasionally and many dogs continue to live with it. But in some serious cases, surgery is required to correct the problem.

Portosystemic Liver Shunt : This is a renal malfunction that happens when an unusual vessel causes blood to bypass the liver. This results in the blood not being cleansed and causes toxins to build up in the blood.

Progressive Retina Atrophy: This is a degenerative eye disorder disease. The gradual loss of photoreceptors in the eye causes a gradual decline in vision for your dog. This condition can be detected years before any blindness symptoms occur. Your breeder should have the dogs’ eyes checked annually by a vet.

Hypoglycaemia : This is actually not a disease, but an indication of a more serious underlying problem. In simple terms, it is known as the low blood sugar syndrome. In some cases, the dog might show weakness, confusion and seizure like behaviour. If your dog displays any signs of hypoglycaemia, it is important to seek the treatment of your nearest vet immediately.

White Dog Shaker Syndrome: Also known as idiopathic steroid responsive shaker syndrome, it causes full body tremors in small dog breeds. This syndrome is peculiar to smaller toy dog breeds, including West Highland White Terriers, poodles and Bichons. The disease will suddenly set in between one to two years of age in the dog. During times of stress, the dog will have difficulty walking and seizures might occur. There is no known cause of this syndrome. The treatment for this disease can range from a week to lifelong medication.

Collapsed Trachea: The trachea or tracheal is what helps carry air to the lungs. The trachea is also known as the wind pipe. In some dogs, the trachea can collapse easily. It is a congenital abnormality in which the cartilage of the tracheal rings is less cellular and thus weaker than normal.

Symptoms include a honking cough, exercise intolerance, difficulty in breathing and a bluish colour to the gums. The honking cough can be aroused by eating, drinking, excitement, exercise and hot weather.

At the onset, normal medical cough suppressants or antibiotics are introduced. In more serious cases, surgical intervention might be required.

Reverse Sneezing : This is not really a disease. Sometimes it is confused with a collapsed trachea. It is not a serious condition and the dog can usually recover within a few minutes. It can cause discomfort to you watching your dog undergoing reverse sneezing but there is nothing to worry about.

Feeding Your Maltese

Because of our love for our dogs, we tend to overfeed them. The Maltese, which is a small toy breed, can get overweight easily if fed with too much food. This is made worse if the owner does not bring the Maltese dog out for daily walks.

A good recommended daily amount of dog food is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high quality dry food a day, divided by two meals.

Always measure the amount of food given to your maltese. Encourage your maltese to finish his or her food during feeding time. Leaving food available all the time is not advisable unless you are out for the whole day.

One good way to test if your maltese is overweight is to hold the bottom of his body in your palm and feel for its ribs using your fingers. If you can feel the ribs, then your maltese is in good weight. If you find that you cannot feel the ribs and there is a layer of fat, perhaps its time to revise his daily food intake.

However, do not take the above guideline cast in stone. You might have a more active dog that requires more food to get him going. You know your dog best and it is important for you to exercise smart judgment when you feed your dog.

Grooming Your Maltese

The nice white silky coat of the maltese needs to be maintained well. Malteses do not shed much compared to other dogs. However, due to the thin strands, it is common for the coat to get tangled up.

Furthermore, since the maltese dog is white, it is easier to get the coat looking dirty. Not to mention the quick formation of tear stains under the eyes of your maltese.

Some tips for grooming your Maltese below:

Brush your maltese daily. If you do not brush for 3 days, you will find the coat is in a mess and your maltese will not feel very comfortable. Even if the coat is short, you need to do this religiously. If the coat becomes tangled up, you might end up having to shave your maltese down to grow another new coat.

When the coat develops mats, try to untangle the mess gently with your fingers. You can use a detangled spray or a coat conditioning oil. Try your best to smooth out the mats. Do not ever try to pull the mat aggressively as it will hurt your maltese badly. Imagine someone pulling your hair aggressively! Try to do this before every bathing session for your maltese as the mats just gets tighter with water.

Keep the coat behind the ears, front legs, chest, stomach and groin short. These are areas of movement for your maltese which can be painful if the coat is mat and tangled. You should also clip the groin and anal area to maintain good hygiene for your dog.

Cleaning of your Maltese ears should be done every 2 days. Check for visual dirt in the ears, especially those curvy corners. If there is a liquid discharge, seek the help of a vet immediately. If you do not clean your maltese’s ears regularly, they can get infected. Signs of infection include flaky residues in the ears, swelling in the ears and redness. Maltese also has hair in their ears which you need to remove. Seek your groomer’s advice on how to pluck out the hairs. Usually you will need to the help of ear grooming powder.

Tear and face stains are the common headaches of maltese owners. From four to five months old, your maltese will start to develop tear stains. However, there are several steps you can take to lessen the formation of the ugly stains:

– Clean your maltese ’s eyes daily with warm water

– Always wipe, clean or wash your maltese’s mouth after feeding

– Train your maltese to drink from a water bottle. Pure distilled water has no minerals that can cause staining

– Use a glass, ceramic or stainless steel feeding bowl for your maltese.

Excessive tearing needs attention too. If your maltese suffer from serious tear stains, that might be a sign of a more serious health problem such as clogged tear ducts, allergies and such. Always seek the help of your vet.

Some owners use hair whitening products to lighten the tear stains. However, we do not encourage that as there might be foreign chemicals that are harmful to your dog. And there are many strong ingredients being used in such hair whiteners. As such, abstain from using such temporary solutions for the tear stains.

If you find that the long hair atop your maltese’s head a nuisance, the easiest way is to maintain a short cut for your dog. Some owners tie their Maltese’s hair into a topknot. But make sure the band you use does not break the hair or cause unnecessary tension on your maltese’s scalp.

Teeth brushing should be done daily. Or at least, 3 times a week. This is to prevent tartar from building up on your Maltese teeth. Tartar can be difficult to get rid of if allowed to accumulate. Daily teeth brushing also prevents gum disease and bad breath.

Should the color of your Maltese nose turn from black to pink, it might be a sign of too little sunshine. Take your Maltese dog out for a short walk on a sunny day. Or simply bring him or her along with you when you are out. If your Maltese is a female and the nose turns pink, there is a chance of her in heat too.

Being stubborn dogs, grooming your Maltese can be a challenge in the beginning. Get your Maltese used to the grooming steps. Make sure the grooming experience is a positive one by rewarding your Maltese for good behaviour. You might not be able to complete a full grooming session in your first try. But for any accomplishments made during the grooming, reward your maltese. By doing so, your maltese will look forward to the next grooming session.

Grooming your maltese is also about looking out for any abnormal lumps, redness, infections , fleas or ticks. Check for any signs of inflammation around the eyes, mouth, ears and teeth. Such checks will detect any potential health problems early, thereby increasing the chances of survival should a health condition be found.

Additional Things to Note About the Maltese Dog:

– Though all Maltese dogs want to please their owners, early crate training and potty training is recommended

– Maltese are susceptible to chills, try to dry them after a shower thoroughly and avoid walking on damp areas

– Maltese coat is usually long and parted. If left in the sun for too long, your Maltese might get sun burned at the exposed parting area

– If you have small children at home, discipline them to handle the maltese delicately as the maltese is a small sized dog and cannot withstand rough handling. Some naughty young children might drop, step or hold your maltese too tightly. Just educate the younger ones in your household that all animals, including the maltese, should be treated with care and gentleness.

– Maltese are known to be picky eaters. Some pick their food while others might be having some dental issues. If your maltese abstain from food for too long, take to the vet to investigate the real problem.

– Always get your puppy from a responsible breeder. Never support the puppy mills. Trace the lineage of your maltese dog to avoid any genetic diseases that might surface later part of your maltese’s life.

With all these facts and history about the Maltese dog breed, we believe you are better equipped to make the purchase or adoption decision for your Maltese dog. Remember, always access your own time and financial commitments before you get yourself a cute and adorable Maltese dog.