The Maltese is a beautiful small breed belonging to the toy group of dogs. This breed is pretty distinctive because of its silky, stark white hair coat.
It’s easy to think the Maltese is a delicate couch potato. But behind the luxurious white coat and small frame is an energetic dog with abilities to compete in dog sports.
Learn more about the Maltese in this post, and find out if this fascinating creature is the right breed for you.
Maltese Dogs and Puppies
What is a Maltese?
The Maltese is an old dog breed known in the past as ‘the ancient dog of Malta,’ ‘Maltese lion dog,’ ‘Roman ladies’ dog’, among others. Throughout its history, the Maltese is known to be a companion dog, and was a favorite among the wealthy.
This breed is quite popular nowadays among city dwellers living in apartment and condos. Its tiny stature, and the minimal shedding of its coat make it perfect for small living spaces.
Where do Maltese dogs come from?
The breed is named ‘Maltese,’ but it’s uncertain if it really comes from Malta.
It’s believed they come from the Mediterranean area–perhaps Malta or Italy. Others speculated the breed comes from Asia, like the other popular toy dog breeds.
However, one thing seems quite clear: the breed has existed for a very long time already. Ancient artifacts from Rome, Greece, and Egypt depicted the existence of these small white dogs even before the Common Era.
The breed was favored among the nobles and the royals in Europe for many centuries. It was considered a status symbol, and was treated very well. But they were almost gone in the 17th and 18th centuries when dog enthusiasts crossed them with other breeds.
Breeders, then, wanted to develop the Maltese further by making it smaller like a squirrel.
Maltese dogs were introduced in the U.S. around the 1800s. These dogs mainly descended from those developed in Britain.
What do Maltese dogs look like?
Maltese are small dogs with a distinctive, stark white, silky coat. They weigh around 4 to 7 pounds, and stand between 8 to 10 inches at the withers.
They have these physical traits:
- Single coat (no undercoat)
- Coat color is purely white, but there may be light lemon or tan markings on the ears
- Feathered drop ears
- Dark round eyes surrounded by black rims
- Black nose
- Feathered tail carried over the back
- Feathered legs and feet (with black pads)
What is the temperament of a Maltese?
This breed is known to be sweet, cheerful, and lively. They get on well with almost everyone, including other pets and animals. But they sometimes ‘act big,’ and might take on larger dogs, a common trait exhibited by toy dogs.
They’re mostly easygoing and docile without causing a lot of problems. But there are just a few things owners need to remember:
- Overindulging them can make them overdependent.
- It’s natural to be protective of them because they’re so small. But they also need to be exposed to different surroundings and situations.
- They live well indoors, but it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy being outdoors.
- They love to play. But too much rough play with very young children can potentially injure them. They do well in homes with older children.
- These dogs might suffer from separation anxiety.
Like the little aristocrats they are, Maltese love sitting in the lap of luxury. But they’re also feisty watchdogs and game agility competitors. – The American Kennel Club
When does the Maltese reach its full size?
Most Maltese dogs, if not all, are considered adults when they’re 12 months old. Many reach their full size by then. But some may still keep on gaining more muscle and weight a little after one year. They usually reach their adult height first, then continue to fill out shortly after.
They have a relatively longer lifespan compare to larger dog breeds. They have the average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Common causes of death include cardiovascular diseases, congenital diseases (like colitis and cirrhosis), and cancer.
Are Maltese dogs hypoallergenic?
Yes. This breed is considered a hypoallergenic dog breed.
It has hair instead of fur (yes, there’s a difference between hair and fur), which means it sheds very little. They also produce less dander, which is a common allergen found in dogs.
However, no breed is completely non-allergenic. Allergy sufferers might still react to them when exposed.
Are Maltese dogs easy to train?
The Maltese has every potential to be a well-trained dog. It can learn quickly as it is intelligent as well as eager to please.
This dog responds well to non-forceful, positive training methods, and food rewards. But many owners dote on this breed too much that’s why it turns out spoiled and yappy.
Maltese puppies can easily grasp basic obedience commands, including some advanced skills. However, housebreaking them tends to be challenging. But it can be done if owners are consistent in making their puppies follow a potty training schedule.
Crate training also helps when puppies are being house trained.
How much do Maltese puppies cost?
A Maltese puppy can have a starting price of USD $1,000. Show quality puppies of this breed tend to cost even more—as much as $2,000 and above.
There are breeders who sell Maltese puppies around $600 to $800. But these puppies sometimes come without the complete paperwork, have not undergone a thorough health exam, and might be mixed with another breed.
How often should a Maltese be groomed?
The grooming of Maltese dogs may consume more time compared to grooming other dogs. Think of it this way: its beautiful white coat is like a little mop.
This breed’s grooming needs include:
- Brushing and combing the hair coat daily to keep it clean and free from debris and tangles
- Conditioning the hair before combing by using a detangler spray and other conditioner products
- Bathing at least once a week
- Checking and cleaning the ears every week
- Trimming of nails at least once or twice monthly
- Trimming of the hair between the toes every two weeks
- Cutting and trimming of the coat can be done as needed, depending on the length of the coat
- Brushing of teeth thrice a week
- Cleaning the area around the eyes daily (maybe twice) to prevent tear stains and infection
Learn more about the Maltese from this Animal Planet video:
A Maltese can be the right dog for you if you’re looking for a small companion with an adorable personality. You don’t need to worry very much if you live in a small space. It will do well in different types of homes as long as you’re there.
And while grooming a Maltese can be time-consuming, wouldn’t it be worth it if you have this little furball around?
Let me know what you think of this breed by writing a comment below.
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Featured image via Pixabay