<Back to Dog Breeds
Dog Group Kennel Club: Toy (AKC, KC)
The Maltese is a toy dog related to the Bichon family, and is one of the oldest European breeds. They have heavily feathered and hanging ears, a compact body, and large dark eyes.
The Maltese is covered from head to foot with long, silky, white fur
Weight: 4 – 6 lbs
Average Life Span: 12 – 14 yrs
They are gentle-mannered and affectionate, intelligent, eager and sprightly in action. They crave human attention. Despite their small size they are fearless and make an excellent companion. The Maltese would not suit a family with small children, as they prefer calm and gentle attention. Generally they do not get along with other house hold pets. Maltese do not like to be left alone for long periods of time.Although they have a reputation for being glamorous show dogs, they are also sturdy and vigorously playful.
The Maltese is a good choice for people who live in small apartments because of their size.
Maltese can be strong willed when it comes to training. It is therefore best to start training early, owners need to be patient and consistent.
The long white coat requires constant attention and care. Shampooing once a week and daily grooming is needed to maintain a healthy coat for this breed. Regular ear cleaning and nail trimming is reguired.
Maltese have minimal exercise requirements. A daily short walk or daily play will be sufficient.
Maltese Health Issues
Hypoglycaemia: the medical term for low blood sugar is a condition associated with a sudden drop in the level of blood sugar. This commonly affects the small toy breeds as puppies, and usually not seen in puppies over twelve weeks of age. It is most likely caused by the uneven spurts in growth of the internal organs of the puppy, especially the pancreas which is associated with insulin production. Symptoms that a dogs sugar level has dropped too low include: weakness, confusion, drooling, pale gums, seizures. These attacks can be fatal. Prevention from these attacks are monitored through diet. Always ask your local vet for advice!!
Ear infections: Dogs with long ears are more predisposed to ear problems than those breeds with short, erect ears. As the ear folds, it covers the ear canal and prohibits air from entering and drying the canal.
The result is a moist, warm ear canal that is a perfect environment for organisms to grow. It is important to check your Maltese ears regularly. The ear should be light pink or flesh-toned and clean, and there should be no odour coming from the ear or the ear canal. Always ask your local vet for advice
Tear Staining: Is a common problem for the Maltese. Causes can be due to a number of factors including excessive drainage of the tear duct, teeth and ear problems, diet, also both stress and excitement can cause tear production which can easily stain the fur around the eyes. The eyes need to be cleaned regularly with clean cotton wool. Depending on the cause of the tear staining diet may need to be changed, or eye ointment may be needed. Always ask your local vet for advice!
Known to many as “ye ancient doge of Malta”, the Maltese breed has a history that traces back many centuries. References to the Maltese are made in early European writings and were favourites of the Greeks and Romans. Ancient Europeans long believed that the Maltese came from one of the islands off the coast of Sicily. Known then as Melita, geographers eventually agreed to the name Malta. Malta was an important trading centre. Goods moved east and west from this small island. The Maltese often travelled with their owners to distant shores around the world. Their compact size and loving personalities of these charming dogs soon made them ideal items to barter. They were offered as gifts to reigning monarchs, undoubtedly to obtain favoured trading status along commercial routes.
It was thought that these lively little dogs were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The breed became particularly popular with noble women, who often carried them in their sleeves and even tucked in their bosom!