A-z - Animals


malta facts

Maltese as pets:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
warm climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
$2,000 and $4,000
pack of dogs
male weight
-7 lbs
female weight
-7 lbs

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Although their name suggests that the Maltese came from Malta, most people believe that they originally came from south-central Europe.

The Maltese is a toy dog. They are hypoallergenic dogs with white coats. Maltese were most likely bred from Spitz type dogs. However, there isn't much written history about the origins of these dogs, so their past history isn't entirely clear.

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breed history

While it is believed that the Maltese came from the island of Malta, their exact origin is a mystery. They have been found around the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years, including Sicily, Egypt, and southern Europe, but most historians do identify Malta as where the breed developed.

Past writings on them suggest that many people, from the ancient Greeks to Queen Elizabeth I's physicians, believed they were indeed from Malta.

Regardless of where they originated, these dogs are a very playful and gentle breed. They are friendly and make great family pets for families with older children.

teacup maltese
The teacup Maltese is one of the smallest dogs in the world.

©Andi Berger/Shutterstock.com

Maltese Health and Recreation

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Top 3 Pros and Cons of Owning a Maltese

advantage! shortcoming!
Hypoallergenic : Despite their longer coat, the Maltese is a hypoallergenic dog. This makes them a great choice for families with family members who suffer from allergies. Not suitable for families with young children : they are small and can be easily injured. They are not a good choice for families with toddlers who have not yet learned how to properly interact with dogs.
GREAT COMPANION DOG : The Maltese was bred to make a great companion. They are playful, gentle and affectionate with their families. With extra training, Maltese can also make excellent therapy dogs. HIGH MAINTENANCE : These dogs need daily brushing to keep their coat looking good and keep them from getting matted. They also need regular baths and should have their nails trimmed frequently.
Overall Healthy Breed : Generally speaking, the Maltese is a healthy breed. Purchasing a Maltese from a trusted breeder can help ensure that your dog is free from genetic diseases. Can be destructive when left alone : Maltese form a close bond with their owners. When they are alone, they do not do well and may become destructive or suffer from separation anxiety.
Portrait of a cute white long-haired Maltese girl on a red background. The puppy in the photo is 4 months old.
Maltese are agile, talented and trainable.

© Arthur Lookyanov/Shutterstock.com

size and weight

The Maltese is a toy-sized dog breed. Males and females are about the same size. They stand between 7 and 9 inches tall and weigh less than 7 pounds. Since this is a small dog breed, the puppies are very small. They may weigh as little as ¼ pound at birth. By three months of age, puppies usually weigh between 2 and 4 pounds. By six months of age, most puppies will be close to adults.

male female
high 7 inches to 9 inches 7 inches to 9 inches
weight less than 7 lbs less than 7 lbs

common health problems

Knowing some of the common health issues these dogs may face can help you prepare to provide the best possible care for your pooch. One problem some Maltese face is obesity. Maltese bodies can't handle a lot of extra weight, so obese dogs may have problems with their joints. They may also develop digestive or metabolic disturbances, heart disease or back pain associated with extra weight gain.

Patent ductus arteriosus is a condition for which these dogs are genetically predisposed. In dogs with this condition, the blood vessels that carry blood between two different parts of the heart do not close properly. With the blood vessels partially open, more blood is being brought to the dog's lungs than it should be. This can cause fluid to build up and put extra strain on their hearts.

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Maltese may have some health issues, but live into the double digits.


Maltese dogs may also develop a type of liver disease called portosystemic shunt (PSS). This disease causes some blood that should be destined for the liver to bypass it. Due to reduced blood flow, the liver cannot grow properly and cannot function properly. The liver of a dog with PSS cannot remove toxins from the blood as well as a functioning liver.

In summary, here are some common health issues that Maltese dogs may face:

  • Obesity (which may lead to joint problems, metabolic and digestive disturbances, heart disease, or back pain)
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)


These dogs have very friendly personalities. They are gentle and loving; Maltese will happily curl up in their owner's lap. These traits become more reserved when Maltese are around people they don't know.

In addition to the above behaviors, Maltese can be very active. They love to run and walk around. They often seem to forget how small they are and will bark at or try to challenge the other dog.

How to Care for a Maltese

Every dog is unique, and the Maltese is no exception. Caring for these dogs can look different than caring for other breeds. Knowing the breed's health issues, nutritional needs, and other unique aspects will keep your dog happy and healthy.

Best Dog Food for Maltese Dogs

Since Maltese dogs can have an obesity problem, it's important to make sure you're feeding your dog the right amount of food. For dogs and puppies alike, you want to choose a quality food from a manufacturer you can trust. Another option when feeding your dog is to offer homemade meals. Whichever you choose, you'll want to consult with your veterinarian to make sure that what you're feeding your dog will meet their nutritional needs.

This breed can treat a variety of heart problems, patent ductus arteriosus, and portosystemic shunts . So, be aware of legumes like lentils and peas in dog food ingredients and stay away from them, as legumes have been linked to heart failure in dogs.

AZ Animals believes the best dog food for Maltese dogs is Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diet | Small Adult Dry Dog Food with Healthy Grains.

poisonous food for dogs with grapes
Make sure your Maltese avoids certain poisonous foods, such as grapes.

© iStock.com/humonia

Your Maltese delicate heart will be happy to get plenty of taurine instead of beans. Because this food is made from high-quality natural ingredients, like chicken and lamb, instead of artificial preservatives and empty calorie fillers, your dog will feel full and less likely to overeat. Additionally, amino acids promote lean muscle formation during exercise for an active lifestyle and a healthy weight.

Try Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Small-Breed Diet on Amazon and Chewy.

overall best

Every dog is different and may need different amounts of food. Your dog's activity level, age, and other health issues can affect the amount of food they should eat. In general, adult dogs should eat ¼ to ¾ cup of food per day. This food should be eaten in two or three meals.

When they are newborn, puppies are free to feed. This means you can leave food out so they can eat when they need it. By the time your puppy is about 12 weeks old, you should stop feeding them ad libitum to prevent them from overeating. Puppies between 12 weeks and 9 months should eat three small meals a day. Once your dog is an adult, you can switch to feeding two meals a day, or you can decide to stick to three meals. Check out our compilation of the best foods for Maltese to find out the best foods for every stage of a dog's life.

Maintenance and Grooming

While the Maltese does not shed much, they are still a dog that requires a lot of maintenance. To keep their coat looking nice and keep it from tangles, you need to brush your dog daily. It's also important to bathe them, condition their hair, and dry them regularly. Their nails should be trimmed and their ears should be checked and cleaned regularly.

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In addition to the grooming items listed above, you need to brush your dog's teeth at least once a day. This will help protect them from dental disease.

Maltese dog posing on blue studio background.
Regular grooming will keep your Maltese in good shape.

© Sannse/Creative Commons


Training your Maltese takes some work. Over the years, they have learned ways to get what they want from their owners. However, if you start training your Maltese from an early age, be consistent and use positive training methods, you should notice your dog start to obey your demands.

Maltese are very intelligent dogs, which means they are able to learn more complex commands. They are also excellent show dogs and can excel in agility or obedience shows.


Unlike other breeds that require a lot of daily exercise, the Maltese needs very little exercise to get good exercise. They are a relatively energetic dog, but will meet their exercise requirements with short walks or play in the fenced-in yard.

Maltese dog running on the background of green grass and plants
Maltese need minimal exercise but should still walk daily.

© Kimrawicz/Shutterstock.com


Maltese puppies sleep 18 to 20 hours a day. As they get older, their need for sleep decreases to between 12 and 14 hours. However, when they are awake, puppies are very energetic. They will act hyperactive and may run around your house. Puppies will start to calm down around 6 months and become noticeably calmer by 9 to 12 months.

Before you bring home a new Maltese puppy, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure your home is ready. Make sure you've purchased food, harness and leash, crate, toys, and everything else your new dog will need. You also need to make sure your home is puppy proof. Remove any items that may be harmful to the dog or that you do not wish to be destroyed by the puppy. It's also a good idea to choose a veterinarian before bringing your new dog home.

Maltese puppy running on the grass

© Kimrawicz/Shutterstock.com

Maltese dog and child

The Maltese is gentle and loving. They can be great additions to families with older children. However, it is generally not recommended to bring a Maltese home if there are babies or young children in the family. Maltese are small and can easily be injured by young children who have not yet learned how to handle dogs.

Even older children should always be supervised by the Maltese's side. This will help prevent accidental injury to children or dogs.

dog similar to the maltese

The Shih Tzu, American Eskimo Dog and Bichon Frize are three dog breeds that share certain characteristics with the Maltese.

  • Shih Tzu: Like the Maltese, the Shih Tzu is a toy breed. Both varieties are also hypoallergenic. Shih Tzus are larger than Maltese dogs. They typically weigh between 9 and 16 pounds, with Maltese closer to 7 pounds. The coat of the Maltese is white, while the coat of the Shih Tzu is red, black, brindle, liver or silver.
  • American Eskimo Dog: The American Eskimo Dog is closely related to the German Spitz breed. The Maltese are thought to share ancestry with the Spitz; they have a similar muzzle. Both dogs have white coats, and the toy-sized American Eskimo Dog is about the size of a Maltese. The American Eskimo Dog sheds a lot, while the Maltese sheds very little. American Eskimo Dogs are generally more playful than Maltese.
  • Bichon Frise: Bichon Frises are another dog breed that, like the Maltese, is smaller and has white hair. Bichon Frizes are also hypoallergenic. Both breeds are very affectionate and more sensitive than other dog breeds. The Maltese is more territorial than the Bichon Frize and is more likely to bark.
Maltese walking through autumn leaves
Maltese have silky and elegant fur.

©iStock.com/Mindaugas Dulinskas

famous maltese dog

There have been many celebrities who have owned Maltese dogs over the years.

  • Sugar, Elizabeth Taylor's Maltese terrier, can be found everywhere.
  • Maf is short for Mafia, the Maltese word for Marilyn Monroe. Maf was a gift from Frank Sinatra to her.
  • Happy is Tony Bennett's Maltese dog.
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Here are a few names you might consider for your Maltese.

  • cocoa
  • Conservative Party
  • einstein
  • Fiona
  • Ellie
  • oliver
  • winston
  • Maggie
  • a lot
  • Benny


  • teacup maltese
  • Maltese Lifespan: How Long Do Maltese Live?
  • Havanese vs. Maltese: What's the Difference?

Last Updated on 2023-04-12 / Affiliate Links / Image via Amazon Product Advertising API

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about the author

I was born in New York, got my journalism degree from Boston University, took a detour to San Diego, and am now back in New York. I love traveling with my husband, but always miss my favorite little Peanuts, half Chihuahua/half Jack Russell, all the trouble. We are certified to dive so one day we can dive with great white sharks and I hope I can swim with orcas too. If my house fits it, I'll add a pig – or a sloth.

Maltese Frequently Asked Questions (Frequently Asked Questions)

How long do Maltese live?

The Maltese is a smaller dog breed that tends to live longer than other dog breeds. On average, Maltese live 12 to 15 years. There are reports of Maltese living beyond 18 years, but there is no recorded history of the oldest Maltese.

How much does it cost to own a Maltese?

The cost of purchasing a Maltese from a breeder can vary widely. While you can find some dogs for as low as $600, it's also possible to find some that cost thousands of dollars (even as high as $10,000). On average, it costs between $2,000 and $4,000 to buy a Maltese from a breeder. Factors including their health and ancestry affect the cost. It is much less expensive to adopt a Maltese from a shelter and can cost as little as a few hundred dollars.

You'll also pay for supplies, vaccinations, veterinary appointments, training, food, and other supplies and necessities for your dog. This can cost you between $1,500 and $3,000 for your first year of owning a Maltese. You should still budget $1,000 to $2,000 to care for your pup after its first year of ownership.

Are Maltese Dogs Good For Kids?

Yes, Maltese are generally good with children. This breed is very gentle and loving. However, they are not an ideal breed for young children and toddlers who do not yet know how to handle and interact with dogs with care. Maltese are vulnerable to children who may grab or pull on them, so if you have babies or toddlers in the house, you may want to wait for a Maltese.

How long do Maltese dogs live?

Maltese have an average life expectancy of between 12 and 15 years.

Do Maltese dogs bark a lot?

Yes, Maltese dogs may bark a lot. They can sometimes become protective and intolerant around young children, which can cause them to bark. Also, they may bark at other dogs when they go out for a walk or see other dogs around the house. Maltese also don't like to be left alone and can become destructive or bark a lot when their owners are away.

Do Maltese Shed?

No, Maltese don't shed a lot. This is because they do not have an undercoat like many other breeds.

How big is a Maltese dog?

The Maltese is a toy-sized breed and as such is very small. Most Maltese weigh less than 7 pounds. They are usually only 7 to 9 inches tall.

Are Maltese herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Maltese dogs are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom does the Maltese belong?

The Maltese belongs to the animal kingdom.

What class do Maltese belong to?

Maltese belong to the class Mammalia.

What door do the Maltese belong to?

Maltese belong to the phylum Chordate.

What family do Maltese belong to?

Maltese belong to the canine family.

What order does Malta belong to?

Maltese belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do Maltese have?

Maltese are covered with hair.

What genus do Maltese belong to?

Maltese belong to the genus Canis.

What are some interesting facts about the Maltese?

Malta is native to Europe!

What is the scientific name of the Maltese?

The scientific name of the Maltese is Canis lupus.

What is the difference between Maltese and Maltipoos?

Maltipoos are a cross between a Maltese and a Poodle. Read all about their differences here!

What is the difference between a Maltese and a Yorkie?

Maltese come in less color than Yorkies. Also, the Maltese is an ancient breed while the Yorkie originated in the 19th century.

What is the difference between Maltese and Coton De Tulear?

The Maltese are smaller in height and weight than the Coton De Tulear. Also, Coton De Tulear comes in more colors than all white Malta.

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