Maltese | Information & Dog Breed Facts


The Maltese is a small breed of dog with large dark eyes and beautiful snow-white hairs. This ancient dog breed has always succeeded with noble and powerful people, leaders and kings. Apparently, they were flattered to have a dog with a royal appearance and an elegant look.

This small toy dog, originally from the Mediterranean, Italy taking over. The origins are associated with Italy, Malta and the island of Mljet (Croatia), although its origin is somewhat uncertain. It was the Phoenicians who brought the ancestors of this breed from Egypt over 2000 years ago. In the tomb of Ramses II, there are stone statues in the shape of the current Maltese.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Maltese lapdogs take a very honorable place among pets in many families, and this is not in vain. However, before moving on to listing the merits of this breed, you need to get an idea of what the Maltese lapdogs are.

The breed has been genetically selected to grow smaller and smaller individuals. Few dog breeds are as widely appreciated as the Maltese. This intelligent and affectionate animal is popular worldwide, with the wealthy and with celebrities.

In this ‘ Pets Feed ‘ Breed Sheet, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the Maltese dog.


This is one of the oldest known breeds: Charles Darwin traced the Maltese origins back to 6000 BC. It belongs to the family of Bichon dogs originating from the Mediterranean basin and it is notorious that Publio, Roman governor of Malta in the first century BC, had a Maltese type dog named Issa.

The Maltese breed has been highly prized by royalty and aristocracy throughout its history and is featured in portraits of Queen Elizabeth I of England and other kings.

It is said that Queen Mary of Scotland hid a Maltese among her skirts when she was decapitated.

As is the case with many breeds of dogs, there is disagreement about the first traces of the breed. Some say that the dog is native to Sweden and is a descendant of a Spitz-type dog.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Characteristics of the Maltese

Among all small dogs, this friendly little breed stands out. It is a small dog that is easy to recognize because of its characteristics of Maltese. Even an adult Maltese dog maintains the puppy’s expressions on his face, so he is classified in Bichons, a word derived from “barbichon”, a name that was given to puppies in ancient times. These are the main features of the Bichon Maltese, but there are also others to consider.

  • Head of the Maltese: quite wide. The line of the forehead and the muzzle is parallel.
  • Skull: slightly larger than the muzzle, ovoid, the upper part of the skull flat.
  • Transition from forehead to nose: strongly pronounced and forms a 90 ° angle between the nasal and frontal bones.
  • Nose: the umbilicus lobe is black, wide with very open nostrils, is a continuation of the back of the nose.
  • Nasal bridge: straight.
  • Snout of the Maltese: well filled (well-developed sinuses). Well-developed hollow.
  • Lips: Seen from the front, the upper lip is semi-circular in shape with a very long chord. The upper lip covers the lower part, the edge of the upper lip reaches the lower part. The lower profile of the muzzle is delimited by the lower jaw. The edge of the lips is always black.
  • Teeth / jaw: bite of scissors. The lower jaw does not project forward or backward. The edges of the lower jaw are completely straight. The teeth are white, strong, a complete dental formula of 42 teeth must be present. A slight deviation from the line is allowed.
  • Eyes: quite large, rounded in shape, fixed shallow, rather slightly protruding. The eyelids are well adjusted, the border is black. Viewed from the front, the whites of the eyes should not be visible. Eye color – dark buff, the darker the better. Eye expression is lively, attentive.
  • Ears: flat, hanging, triangular, wide at the base, covered with stiff hair. They are located in height, much higher than the zygomatic arches, fit perfectly on the sides, but they can rise very slightly due to the weight of the copious and covering wool.
  • Neck: The neck line in front and on the top must be clearly visible. The length of the neck is approximately equal to half the height at the withers, which almost corresponds to the head.
  • Chest: broad, deep, sagging under the elbows, with moderately curved ribs.
  • Forequarters: close to the body, straight and parallel
  • Hindquarters: Strong, muscular.
  • Hips: Well developed, muscular
  • Hocks: The distance from the ground to the hock is slightly greater than 1/3 of the height. The front angle is 140 degrees. Seen from the back, the straight line from the hock to the ground is vertical, a continuation of the back line of the thigh.
Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Size of the Maltese dog

The most characteristic feature of the Maltese is its size, not exceeding 25 centimeters in the case of an adult Maltese male, or 23 centimeters for females. In addition, the weight of the Maltese dog varies from only 3 to 4 kilos, so it sometimes seems more like a small toy than a real dog. A Maltese puppy is very delicate, so it is not recommended in environments with very young children, which can harm the animal while playing with it.


A Maltese dog that is in breed standard must have a completely white and pure coat, although the light bone color is also accepted in competition. Sometimes there are those who are looking for a black Maltese, but this is impossible if you want a purebred animal. A specimen which shows the head or part of the body coat of black color, will have been mixed with another breed, so it will not meet the standards set by the FCI.

The type of hair is long and silky, very straight and without waves or curls when left long. In the toy Maltese, characteristics such as fur are the most determining of the breed. The hairs frame a long and thin body and fall on the sides of the head of the ears. It should also be mentioned that it has a long, hairy tail, which curves on the back.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Temperament / Behavior of the Maltese

In general, the Maltese is a cheerful and funny dog, while enjoying being with his master. It is a good companion dog and not at all lonely, likes to enjoy people and animals. He is protective and he will like to have toys and other biting items at his disposal. He is a little nervous and playful and therefore suffers if he spends too much time alone at home.

Small, sweet and glamorous, the little Maltese is not only a pretty face: he can be aggressive from time to time! Always attentive to what is going on around him, he can be very vocal, so you must teach him not to bark at the slightest provocation.

The legend says that in the past, these puppies were with the big guard dogs and incited them to act if they heard something unusual. These fearless creatures always try to protect the owner and boldly sound suspicious people and foreign noises, so they are prone to excessive barking.

The little Maltese is very fond of children and gets on well with them, but as he is a fragile dog, it is better not to have him in a family with very young children. After all, children, not understanding the responsibility, can accidentally injure a miniature animal.

Maltese gets along well with other pets and is always friendly with other dogs and cats. His optimism is simply inexhaustible, this little dog is able to instil kindness and joy in hearts and to constantly give his love to family members.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog


Maltese have fairly good health. Such a dog lives on average 15 years, and with good care it can last longer. However, as with all breeds, Maltese lapdogs have a tendency to certain diseases.

When we talk about “typical diseases of a Maltese” – this does not mean at all that all representatives of the breed will certainly suffer from each of these diseases. It only says that the probability of these diseases for Maltese lapdogs is higher than for representatives of any other breeds.

  • Dislocation of the patella is a 75% genetically determined change in the knee joint when the position of the patella moves relative to the joint itself, causing severe pain to the dog. The treatment of this disease depends on the degree of difficulty of the problem. In the initial stages, the owners are limited to conservative treatment and achieve a significant improvement in the dog’s health status. Maltese continue to lead a perfectly normal life. In especially difficult situations, the problem of dislocation of the patella is solved with the help of surgical intervention.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy is another rather complex hereditary disease, which manifests itself in a disruption in the photoreceptors of the retina and leading to blindness of the dog. Diagnosing the disease is quite difficult. The first thing that catches the eye of the owner is that the dog begins to navigate worse in the dark.

At the moment, the disease is not treated. The degree of damage to the retina and the rate of progression of the disease can be different, but as a rule, all dogs suffering from this ailment become blind sooner or later.

The diseases described above are detected through genetic testing and self-respecting Maltese breeders conduct these tests for their dogs. If you are responsible for buying a dog and don’t want to spend on the health of your pet, be sure to ask before buying a puppy whether genetic testing of parents has been conducted to identify these diseases.

  • Hypoglycemia is a disease caused by lowering blood sugar. It can manifest as weakness, braided limbs, shaky gait, and even fainting or cramping. Treatment is carried out by identifying the causes of lowering blood sugar and restoring its normal level.
  • Allergy and atopic dermatitis. Like any white dog, the Maltese is prone to allergies and atopic dermatitis, therefore, with a sharp change in feeding and with walks during the flowering period of allergen plants, one should be careful.

At the same time, Maltese dogs themselves are hypoallergenic dogs and are recommended for keeping people suffering from this ailment, due to the peculiarity of the coat of Maltese lapdogs. Their hair is very long, but it does not contain undercoat and does not shed at all!

Maltese is constantly “crying.” They have tears coming from their eyes. Because of these tears, brown streaks appear under the eyes. To avoid this, you should wipe their eyes with a dry clean swab every day. You also need to clean your dog’s ears at least once a week. The ears are very tender, if the dog freezes or water gets into the ears, then otitis media can develop, from which the dog stalls over time. It is quite difficult to cure otitis media. He often recurs, so it is better to take care of the consequences in advance.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Basic care

Despite his magnificent, slightly arrogant image, the Maltese is quite an active dog, very funny and playful. Due to its small size, this dog does not need a large amount of space, so giving the dog the opportunity to move and, thus, keep it in good shape is not difficult.

However, it is the activity of maltese that is associated with a serious risk of injury to the dog. Remember that this is a tiny fragile dog that can fall off the couch and get a serious bruise or even a fracture.

Maltese lapdogs are indoor dogs, they do not tolerate frosts or extreme heat very well, and it is unlikely that anyone will have the thought of keeping Maltese on the outside. However, it is worth remembering that Maltese cannot tolerate water, rain, dampness and dirt. Any walk with the dog in rainy weather will be a problem for you, first of all – because of the snow-white long hair of the dog, and in the second – because the Maltese hates the dampness.

In general, all the other difficulties in its care are connected with the Maltese coat. The hairline of these dogs is long and snow-white.

In order for the coat not to get loose and not to collect the surrounding dust and dirt, it must be combed as often as possible, at least once a day, and it should be washed at least once a week. For washing, use shampoos specifically designed for dogs with white hair, and for drying use conditioners for dogs with long hair.

If the dog does not prepare for exhibitions and competitions, then it can be sheared, which will save a lot of time on grooming. If you are planning a show career for your dog, then get ready for regular painstaking and difficult grooming: winding papillots, combing, washing with special shampoos, etc.

Another difficulty with caring for Maltese is the darkening of the hair near the eyes. The eyes of these dogs are watery and the hair turns yellow at the places where the fluid is released and does not look very beautiful.

Due to their small size, they get along well in small apartments, easily learn to use the toilet in the tray and do not require regular walking.


The Maltese may be small, but it is a lively and energetic dog and must therefore receive the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation to be truly happy and well balanced.

It is important that these small dogs burn any excess calories, otherwise they may gain too much weight, which can have a negative impact on their health and well-being in general. This little dog is content with half an hour of exercise a day, even if it is able to do more if offered. Outdoors, the Maltese can bring out its past as a pest controller and catch something by surprise.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog


In nutrition, lapdogs are unpretentious. With pleasure they will eat from the general table of their master. You can also feed a Maltese dry food specially formulated for Maltese lapdogs. There are also special pastes, canned food and jelly for dogs. However, it is not worth getting carried away with dry food. This can lead to the development of urolithiasis in an animal. Be sure that there is always fresh water in an accessible place for the animal.

Each owner decides for himself what to feed his Maltese, and ideally makes such a decision after consulting the breeder and veterinarian.

Proponents of ready-made diets (wet and dry industrial foods) are relieved of the need to balance the dog’s diet.

However, improperly selected food can provoke an allergic reaction and the appearance of brown spots on the coat.

Therefore, the purchase of food should be preceded by a study of its composition: the most common allergens for dogs are wheat included in its composition.

The number of meals and the amount of natural food eaten by the dog in one feeding:

  • Puppies from 2-6 months – 4 times, 5-10% of the puppy’s weight;
  • Adolescents 6-10 months – 3 times, 5-10% of the weight;
  • Adult dogs – 2 times, 150 grams of food containing at least 50% protein.

The diet of Maltese lapdogs may include: raw and boiled beef, rabbit meat, boiled chicken and turkey, fish, egg yolks.

Fermented milk products are very useful – low-fat kefir and homemade cottage cheese made from it, bio-yogurt, fermented baked milk.

In a small amount, cereals are acceptable: rice, buckwheat. The menu is “fortified” by adding red sweet pepper, herbs, fruits.

Human delicacies and sweets, everything salty, smoked, fried, should be forever deleted from the diet.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Training and education

Maltese lapdogs easily give in to any kind of training. They may well execute commands no worse than other breeds. An example of this is the performance of these dogs in circuses. There they demonstrate their intelligence and talent, the ability to walk on their hind legs, jump over rings, hold a stance and much more.

Undoubtedly, the Maltese are completely unsuitable for the role of hunters or security guards, since they were not bred for this purpose and do not possess the qualities that possess, for example, hunting dachshunds or guard shepherds. However, such dogs will well decorate the interior of any apartment or house, for which they, in fact, are intended.

Maltese dog
Maltese dog

Maltese Dog Breed Highlights

Positive points:

  • The Maltese is a sweet little dog who likes to please.
  • It has an intelligent and playful personality that thrives on being involved in everything.
  • The Maltese is a wonderful companion.
  • This little dog gets along with everyone, including other animals.
  • It does not lose too much hair.
  • Very beautiful;
  • Very cheerful and funny until old age;
  • Smart, easy to train;
  • Do not cause allergies.

Negative points:

  • Its grooming needs are high.
  • Some Maltese can be difficult.
  • It has knee problems.
  • The Maltese tends to be a “barker” if he is not slightly mastered at a young age.
  • Some Maltese can be difficult to house.
  • This dog hates being left alone and suffers from separation anxiety.
  • Fearless and aggressive towards large dogs;
  • Not suitable for families with small children;
  • It’s eyes “cry”;
  • Due to their small size they require careful handling.