June 1, 2020 // 7 minute read

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Maltese dogs are toy dogs known for their long, silky, and beautiful white coat. The coat is always straight and thick, that falls to the floor. This makes them appear like they’re floating beneath their cloud. The best thing is that although their coat may appear thick, it’s hypoallergenic, which is perfect for those who have allergies.

These dogs are not only lovable because of their beautiful hair. They are also known as sweet and intelligent dogs who are devoted to their humans. And though they look royal, these dogs have high energy and will appreciate it if you dedicate some playtime.

Maltese Dog Breed

Maltese Statistics

Dog Breed GroupToy
Breed SizeToy
Height7-9 inches
Weightunder 7 pounds
Lifespan12-15 years

Maltese Ratings

Energy level
Exercise needs
Requires attention
Friendly with family
Friendly with kids
Friendly with strangers
Friendly with other dogs
Prey Drive


Maltese dogs are considered to be the oldest toy dog breed. It’s believed that their history can be traced back to at least two millennia. This is based on evidence showing Maltese-like dogs in artifacts and writings of ancient Greece, Egypt, and Rome.

There are no records as to the exact origin of this dog breed. However, many believed that they were developed in the Isle of Malta; hence the name Maltese is given to them. But regardless of where they came from, the Maltese thrived for centuries. They even survived the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages.

It was only in the 15th century when this dog breed finally found a home with the French noblemen. And by the end of the 16th century, they had been favorite dogs of several royalties such as Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scotts, and Queen Victoria. They are loved by painters and were used as models for paintings. They became instant status symbols and fashion statements, with some being sold by up to $2000.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the dog breed was nearly destroyed as several breeders wanted to shrink down their size to a squirrel. The experiment was inevitably a disaster that breeders mixed poodles, miniature spaniels, and other small dogs just to save it.

By the late 1800s, Maltese dogs were first imported to the US, and they were entered to the first Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York by 1877 as the Maltese Lion Dog.

Since then, the popularity of this dog breed started to grow in the US grounds, and their numbers began to increase. Now, the dog breed remains one of the most popular dog breeds in the US today because of its irresistible charm.



These dogs are gentle, playful, and charming dogs. They are expected to have a bubbly personality who certainly enjoys games and plays.

They are considered to be one of the brightest and most gentle among all toy dog breeds. This is because they love everyone. They think that whoever they meet, whether a person or an animal, is a friend that they can trust.

However, if you have little kids, it’s best to keep them away from a Maltese. Because these dogs are small, kids that aren’t conscious of what they’re doing may accidentally hurt the dogs. For older kids, then they would make excellent playmates.

As toy dogs, this dog breed doesn’t have problems staying indoors. They don’t need a lot of exercise, but would undoubtedly enjoy walks or running around the fenced yard. Just make sure to keep a close eye on them as they can be a target of large dog breeds.

Another impressive trait is that they’re very easy to train. They’re responsive even if you speak to them gently. Treats and foods will surely help you to make them follow you.

Early socialization is something that will also play a role in how your pup turns out to be. This will also help him get accustomed to new things around him and prevent excessive barking when he’s surprised.

You also need to make sure that you don’t spoil him too much. Because if you do, stubbornness and over-dependency will be your biggest problem.

Care Requirements

  • Nutrition: Just like any other small dog breeds, it’s easy to overfeed this type of dog breed. However, not feeding them regularly can cause several problems, which might lead to their death. So, make sure you only feed him a high-quality and well-balanced diet that contains all the essential nutrients. If you’re serving a raw diet, the recommended percentage should be 65-85% meat, 5-10% organ meat, 20-30% vegetables, 10% cooked grains, and 5% fruits. Just make sure that you only derive this from high-quality ingredients. However, if you’re opting for those commercially packed, they make sure to avoid filler ingredients, by-products, and plant-based protein.
  • Grooming: The most significant feature of this companion dog is its long and beautiful white coat. The coat itself sheds infrequently. Plus, it’s hypoallergenic, which makes them perfect for people with allergies. However, even if that’s the case, daily brushing is needed to keep their long hair healthy and free from tangles and mats. You can also get their hair trimmed if it gets too long. But, it’s recommended to have an expert groomer do this. At the same time, you can also have him take a bath, though this should only be done occasionally as these dogs don’t get dirty easily. Don’t forget to check and trim the nails regularly. Long nails can cause pain to any dog. The ears should be checked and cleaned regularly to avoid ear infection too. And because they are prone to dental diseases, teeth should be brushed regularly also.
  • Exercise: Though highly energetic dogs, their exercise requirement is not that heavy. Just a short walk, or running around a fenced yard will be enough to make him happy. Then, you can rest all day indoors. If you’re not the outgoing type, you can even create indoor games you can play with to keep him entertained.
  • Health: Just like many small dog breeds, these dogs are prone to dental and eye problems. This is why it’s essential to keep his teeth healthy always and to trim his hair, especially above the eyes, to avoid irritation. Another serious condition you need to watch out is portosystemic stunts wherein blood is not circulated through the liver. This is genetically transferred and may cause seizures or death if not treated. Fortunately, this can be managed with the right medication and food intake. This dog breed is also prone to patellar luxation and hydrocephalus, but these are less likely to occur. Both of which are hereditary conditions that can be regulated with treatment. Since most health issues are inherited from the parents, it’s best to check the background of your pup if there’s a high chance for a specific condition to occur. You can also have him take some screening tests so you can discover it early as well.
  • Lifespan: The life expectancy is 12-15 years.

Maltese Facts

Famous Maltese

  • Trouble: Leona Helmsley’s dog left with a 12 million dollar trust fund; The richest dog
  • Willy and Polly: Halle Berry’s dogs
  • Tiffany: A Maltese dog from the movie Benji
  • Skipper: The main actor of the movie, The Maltese Dog
  • Riley: A therapy dog participating in more than 400 therapy sessions at Emerald Coast Children’s Advocacy Center

Fun Facts About Maltese

  • This dog breed has many names – Melitae Dog, Maltese Terrier, Spaniel Gentle, Bichon, Maltese Lion Dog, Comforter Dog, etc.
  • They have a hypoallergenic coat.
  • Their exact origin is unknown; they are the oldest of all toy dog breeds.
  • They almost went extinct during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Royalties like Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scotts love them.
  • Their white coat comes with a deeper meaning; Romans considered the color sacred.
  • Although they’re small, they can jump high.

Check Out Other Toy Dog Breeds:
Affenpinscher, Brussels Griffon, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Chinese Crested, English Toy Spaniel, Havanese, Italian Greyhound, Japanese Chin, Miniature Pinscher, Papillon, Pekingese, Pomeranian, Pug, Shih Tzu, Silky Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier, Yorkshire Terrier

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