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Maltese: Breed Characteristics, Training, Care & Nutrition

Maltese originated in the central Mediterranean. They are best known for their soft, down-to-the-ground fur. Because of their cute looks, they are often mistaken for typical lap dogs — although they usually aren’t.

Maltese Dog Breed

  • Breed: Maltese
  • Origin: Malta
  • Weight: 3 to 4 kg
  • Height at the withers: 20 to 25 cm
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 15 years
  • Fur: medium length
  • Color white
  • Temperament: lively, willing to learn, intelligent, alert, spirited, playful, affectionate

Maltese: history

The origin of the Maltese cannot be traced exactly. What is certain is that the small four-legged friend is one of the oldest dog breeds. The first Maltese lived in the Mediterranean region, where they fought rats and mice.

In the fourth century B.C. Aristotle described a dog which he named “canes maltinenses”. Figures from Egypt are also known that could represent Maltese predecessors and were given as a gift to Ramses II more than 3,000 years ago.

Maltese: breed characteristics

Essence and temperament

The Maltese are characterized by their cuddly nature. He particularly appreciates attention and cuddles. While he maintains a very close relationship with his master or mistress, he tends to be shy and dismissive of strangers. If the small dog is well socialized, it gets along well with other dogs, cats, or small animals.

Maltese are very curious, intelligent, and active dogs that need long walks and games. The four-legged friend is easy to lead because his hunting instinct is hardly pronounced. He has a good sense of smell and sense of smell. Aggressive behavior only comes to light when he suffers from a lack of exercise and training.

If the active four-legged friend gets too cocky, a mishap can, in the worst case, end up at the vet. He is well protected with the dog health insurance of the DFV. The DFV animal health protection provides up to 100% reimbursement of costs in the event of illness and surgeries. With the dog liability insurance of the DFV, your faithful companion is fully protected. The DFV dog liability protection offers you worldwide reimbursement of costs for personal injury, property damage, and financial loss caused by your four-legged friend.


The Maltese dog breed is visually distinguished by black button eyes and a cute snub nose. Its brilliant white fur is long, soft, and in some cases can be ivory in color. With a size of 21 to 25 cm for males and 20 to 23 cm for females, they belong to small dog breeds. The weight is usually in the range of three to four kilograms. The small dog with an elongated body looks very elegant and proudly carries its head up.

Education of Maltese puppies

Maltese are very willing to learn dogs and therefore also suitable for beginners. With a non-violent and loving upbringing, the Maltese develop into a great partner for everyday life. For people with little dog experience, of course, we always recommend attending a dog school.

At the beginning of the cohabitation, it is advisable to take the puppy outside at least every two to three hours to housetrain it. Treats are a must when going for a walk because when the dog has finished its task outside, it needs to be praised and rewarded. In this way, the Maltese puppy quickly remembers the connection between loosening things outside of the home and the reward. At best, the young dog is housebroken within two weeks. However, if a mishap happens to him in the apartment, under no circumstances should he be scolded. Instead, say “No” in a firm voice and then start walking.

The education of the puppy always includes an understanding of basic concepts such as sit, down, stay. One of the basic terms should be repeated to the dog over and over again. If he carries out the command, a reward follows. It is important to praise within one second of correctly following the command. Otherwise, the puppy will not make a connection between the treat and the command.

Sports for the Maltese


“Agility” means “agility” or “nimbleness”. This is a varied obstacle course that the dogs go through under the guidance of their humans. Equipment such as hurdles, footbridges, tunnels, or seesaws is used. The various obstacles are completed in a different order. It depends above all on speed, dexterity, and good leadership in the dog. In agility, master and dog must be able to harmonize, complement and rely on each other.

However, the hurdles must not be too high for the small dog. Otherwise, the training can also be wonderfully supplemented with intelligence games and tricks.

Dog dance

In the Dog Dance, the dog and owner move rhythmically to the music together. The dog owner guides the four-legged friend with voice commands and body signals. Both partners are challenged physically and mentally. Working out the tricks and the choreography is based on trust and harmony between man and dog.

Typical tasks of the dancesport are slalom running around human legs, walking backward or sideways, doing jumps, turns, paw work, and manikin.

Dog Dance is a balanced and varied workout that engages many of the dog’s muscles and body parts that it would otherwise not consciously use. The dogs improve their coordination in terms of body awareness, balance, and movement.

International DogDance tournaments are regularly held in many parts of Europe.

Maltese: care

To detangle the long hairs of its wavy coat, the Maltese should be brushed regularly. This is not only good for the optics but also prevents tangles.

Regular cleaning of the eyes is also recommended, as this breed of dog tends to shed tears, which can leave red-brown spots on the fur. There are mild special shampoos to remove discoloration from the fur.

The grooming routine of a Maltese also includes clipping the claws and visiting a dog groomer.

Maltese: Nutrition

Since Maltese tend to be overweight, a balanced diet is all the more important. A quantity of 120 g feed per day is perfectly sufficient. The amount should be divided into 60 g meat, 30 g vegetables, and 30 g rice. A sufficient supply of water is also important because this breed of dog tends to dry out due to its thick fur.

Maltese: Typical diseases and breed-related problems

Maltese are healthy and robust little dogs that only look very fragile.

This breed of dog can develop problems with the kneecap, the so-called patella luxation. Breeders must test parent dogs for this problem, which largely rules out an inherited condition. A healthy diet and an optimal weight also protect against problems with the kneecap.

The eyes of the Maltese are very large, so they dry out more quickly and are prone to irritation, which is further promoted by fur falling into the eyes. A well-groomed hairstyle is all the more important.

In addition, many representatives of the breed are prone to bad teeth, tartar and misalignments. Regular visits to the vet and occasional removal of tartar protect against inflammation in the mouth.

Is the Maltese right for me?

Breed appearances are deceptive, as the Maltese is by no means a pure lap dog. Like any other dog, he needs regular walks and wants to be challenged. So anyone who is toying with the idea of ​​getting a Maltese should have plenty of time. Due to its small size, the Maltese can also be kept in smaller apartments if it gets enough exercise outside of the four walls. A big advantage of the breed, compared to other long-haired dogs, is the almost odorless coat and the lack of shedding.

Maltese are easy to train, affectionate, and integrate wonderfully into everyday life. So if you are looking for a dog that likes to romp outdoors but also likes to cuddle on the couch, a Maltese is a good choice.

The small four-legged friends are wonderfully suitable for beginners and usually, get along with other dogs. In addition, this dog breed feels comfortable both in a city apartment and in a house with a garden.

The bitch is usually a bit more “moody” than the male. This is primarily due to the hormonal cycle that every bitch goes through. Males are somewhat more “constant” in their nature and are not subject to these hormonal fluctuations.

Is the Maltese a family dog?

The Maltese are ideal as a family dog. Since it is very small and light, it can easily be taken anywhere. If the Maltese are used to their full potential, they can also be a suitable dog for older people. Its relatively high life expectancy makes it a loyal and robust companion. He needs a close bond with his family, has unlimited patience, and is therefore also well suited for families with children.

Interesting and worth knowing

The Maltese are particularly popular with aristocrats and celebrities. Icons like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis Presley owned a racial representative. Today’s celebs like Ashton Kutcher, Halle Berry, and Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria also own one or more cute Maltis.

Maltese dog Lucky Diamond earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most photographed animal in the world with celebrities. The dog took 363 photos with actors, presidents, singers, and billionaires.

The richest dog that ever lived was the Maltese bitch “Trouble”. Her mistress Leona Helmsley left her $12 million in 2007.

Where does the name Maltese come from?

Although the name refers to the island of Malta, it is not entirely clear whether the breed actually comes from there. It is suspected that it is confused with the island of Melitaea.

Both island names have their origins in the Semitic word “màlat”, which means refuge or port. And that’s exactly where the ancestor of the Maltese is said to have lived: in the Mediterranean coastal towns and harbor districts, where he was used as a pied piper.

FAQ about the Maltese

What were Maltese bred for?

The Maltese was originally used as a pied piper. With its cute appearance, however, it soon conquered high society and became a popular lap dog there.

Why is my Maltese shaking?

The small companion dogs have a slightly increased susceptibility to constant trembling or to trembling that occurs even with a slight stress (idiopathic cerebellitis or white shaker syndrome).

How much does a Maltese cost?

A purebred Maltese puppy with vaccinations and a health check costs between $1,000 and $1,500. You only pay a small protection fee for a dog from the animal shelter and at the same time, you are doing something good.

Does a Maltese have an undercoat?

Maltese have no undercoat and rarely shed. This breed is therefore often suitable for people who are allergic to animal hair.

How many puppies does a Maltese have?

The number of puppies per litter varies. In most cases, a bitch will have between three and four puppies. However, litters with more puppies are also possible.

When are Maltese puppies fully grown?

Small dogs mature faster than large dog breeds. The Maltese is fully grown once it has reached its final size and is sexually mature. In bitches, this is shown by the first heat. In a male, the increased interest in the opposite sex. The puppies are fully grown between 9 and 12 months.

All statements are without guarantee.

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