Pearl the Maltese smiling at you
The Maltese is a small, hardy dog with silky hair. The body is compact, fine-boned, but sturdy and slightly longer than it is tall with a level topline. The chest is deep. The skull is slightly rounded on the top with a moderate stop. The medium length muzzle tapers, but not to a point. The pendant, low-set ears are set close to the head and heavily feathered. The black eyes are large, round and set moderately apart with dark rims. The nose is black with open nostrils. The dog has a silky, single layer coat that is white or light ivory. When kept long and groomed like a show dog, it hangs flat, long over the sides of the body almost to the ground (about 8½ inches (22 cm)), hanging on each side of a center part line and is not wavy, curly or kinky. A lot of owners choose to cut the coat into a short, easy-care puppy cut.
The Maltese is spirited, lively and playful. Gentle, loving, trusting and devoted to its master. Highly intelligent. Good at learning tricks. Bold and quick to sound the alarm in case of suspicious noises. It is a classic companion dog: graceful and lovable. It does well with other non-canine animals and other dogs. Maltese love to play outdoors. Some like to jump in puddles. May be difficult to housebreak. If you feed them table scraps, they can become picky eaters. Do not allow these dogs to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavior problems. If the dog believes he is boss, he can be snappish with children and even adults. Do not over-pamper or overprotect these little dogs, for they will become unstable, and some may become jealous of visitors. Maltese that are allowed to take over the house, being boss of the humans, can also develop separation anxiety, guarding and obsessive barking. These are not Maltese traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way the dog is treated by the people around it. These behaviors will go away when the dog is surrounded by stable pack leaders.
Height: Males 8 - 10 inches (21 - 25 cm) Females 8 - 9 inches (20 - 23 cm)
Weight: 6½ - 9 pounds (3 - 4 kg)
Prone to sunburn along the hair parting, skin, eye issues, respiratory, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.
The Maltese is a good dog for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Maltese need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. They remain playful well into old age. They are very active indoors.
About 15 or more years. It may live as long as 18, but it is important to keep it out of the damp.
About 3 to 5 puppies
Daily combing and brushing of the long coat is important but be gentle, as the coat is very soft. Clean the eyes daily to prevent staining, and clean the beard after meals for the same reason. Bathe or dry shampoo regularly, making sure the animal is thoroughly dry and warm afterward. Clean the ears, and pull out hair growing inside the ear canal. The eyes should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. The hair on the top of the head is often tied up in a topknot to keep it away from the eyes. Some pet owners opt to clip the hair short for easier and less time-consuming grooming. The Maltese sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy sufferers.
The Maltese was developed in Italy. It is said to have miniature spaniel and Poodle blood. The Maltese was first recognized as a breed in Malta, where it received its name. It was once known as "Ye ancient dogge of Malta." The breed was owned by royalty all over the world. Women carried them around in their sleeves and slept with them in their beds. They were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The Maltese was first recognized by the AKC in 1888.
Gun Dog, AKC Toy
An adult show quality Maltese dog—Photo courtesy of David Hancock
"This is Maggie, my one year old Maltese. She is very intelligent, and walks on her hind legs quite often. She also knows that when it's time for bed, it's also time for her bone. She is such a joy and we have learned so much through this website about training her."
Latte the light ivory purebred Maltese at 3 years old
Jellybean the Maltese at 12 years old drinking from the big orange bowl
Jellybean the Maltese at 12 years old
"Maltese named Prince, better known as NutPup, at 3 years old—"Keep your eyes on the road, NutPup.""
Lilly and Gracie the adult Maltese
Nemo the Maltese at 1 year old—"His puppy dog face can win over anyone's heart!"
Five-week-old male Maltese puppy with his two-year-old mommy
5-week-old male Maltese puppy
Two-year-old Maltese female
Lilly the Maltese puppy at 4 months old—"Lilly is a registered Maltese originally from Abbeville, GA. Lilly lives in an apartment in Knoxville and is owned and loved by a full-time college student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. In these pictures she is about 4 months old. She is very happy in the apartment lifestyle, but loves to run and play in open, grassy areas when she can. She is very alert in the home and will "sound the alarm" if she hears anything. She loves to play with her canine roommates until they are exhausted and flop down beside each other. Lilly fulfills the void of a family for a college student and is very loving and dedicated. She loves to chew, so plenty of pencil-size rawhide chewies are essential."
Lilly the Maltese puppy at 4 months old
Lilly the Maltese—"Her momma, a student at college, was "Skyping" home when she needed to step away for a couple of minutes. When she returned to the Skype session, Lilly had taken over and was talking to her grandparents who she lived with over the summer!"