Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (2023)

The Maltese is a small and affectionate toy dog breed that hails from the Mediterranean region and is known for its trademark silky, white fur that accentuates its big, dark eyes. It can make for a charming lapdog, though it does still need daily exercise. The Maltese also can be an alert and fearless watchdog, despite its small size. Plus, it can be a good option for those who want a low-shedding dog, though it does require some involved grooming.

Breed Overview


HEIGHT:7 to 9 inches

WEIGHT: Under 7 pounds

COAT: Long, silky

COAT COLOR:White, black points

LIFE SPAN: 12 to 15 years

TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, alert, fearless


ORIGIN: Malta/Mediterranean region

Characteristics of the Maltese

Maltese tend to be very affectionate with their family. But their watchdog tendencies can make them somewhat defensive around strangers. They can be a bit stubborn when it comes to training, and they are a medium-energy breed.

Affection LevelHigh
Exercise NeedsMedium
Energy LevelMedium
Tendency to BarkMedium
Amount of SheddingLow

History of the Maltese

The Maltese can be traced back thousands of years to the Mediterranean region, specifically Malta. The breed can be found on ancient Greek pottery and was even admired by the philosopher Aristotle.

Roman aristocrats kept Maltese as status symbols and carried the petite dogs around with them. Unlike many small dog breeds, the Maltese was not bred down from larger dogs; it has always had its small stature.

(Video) 9 Things To Know Before Getting A Maltese Puppy

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Maltese numbers diminished. But Chinese breeders kept the breed alive and refined it via crosses with their toy breeds. The American Kennel Club first recognized the breed in 1888, and it has remained popular to this day.

Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (1)

Maltese Care

Maltese need exercise and playtime every day, and they prefer to receive a lot of attention. They need proper training and socialization to ensure they have good manners. And they have fairly high grooming needs.


The Maltese have a moderate energy level. They should get at least a half hour to an hour of exercise per day via brisk walks, hikes, fetch, and other play. Puzzle toys and even dog sports like agility can help challenge them mentally, as well. Due to their small size, they don't require that much space to get in a good workout.

Note that the breed does not tolerate extreme temperatures well, as it lacks an insulating undercoat. It's best to keep outdoor exercise short in cold weather, and provide your dog with a coat or sweater.


The silky coat of the Maltese grows continuously. For easier maintenance, many owners opt to trim the coat short, and it takes on a wavy, fluffy quality. Others keep the coat long and flowing.

Because of this coat type, routinegroomingis an absolute necessity. The Malteseshould be brushed two to three times per week and up to daily if the coat is kept long. Regular trims will be necessary as well to maintain the desired coat length.

Furthermore, weekly to monthly baths will be necessary to keep the coat clean. Check to see whether the ears need cleaning weekly, and see whether your dog is due for a nail trim roughly once a month. In addition, Maltese are prone to showing tear stains underneath their eyes. There are products available at pet stores to help remove these stains. Moreover, those cute bows or topknots you see on a Maltese serve the purpose of keeping the hair out of the dog's eyes to prevent irritation.

Finally, this breed needs good attention to dental hygiene to prevent teeth and gum problems. Aim to brush your dog's teeth daily, and take it for professional cleaning as needed.


Like all dogs, the Maltese needspropertrainingandsocialization to be happy and well-adjusted.These dogs can be somewhat headstrong, and centuries of living closely with people have taught them how to get what they want. However, they still respond fairly well to training when offered treats and other positive reinforcement.

Aim to start training and socialization when your dog is a puppy. Enroll in a puppy obedience class as soon as your dog meets the age requirement. And expose it to different people, other animals, and various situations. Maltese can be protective around strangers and in strange situations, potentially barking a lot or nipping. So it’s important to instill comfort and confidence in them, along with good manners.

Furthermore, many Maltese exhibit separation anxiety if they’re left alone for long periods. They might bark continuously and engage in destructive behaviors. Behavioral training can help curb some anxiety. However, it’s best for a Maltese to live in a household where someone is home for most of the day.

In addition, as a delicate little dog, the Maltese is not recommended for a household with small children due to the risk of injury to the dog. But it might be a suitable choice for families with gentle olderchildren.

Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (2)

(Video) Maltese Dog - Top 10 Facts

Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (3)

Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (4)

Common Health Problems

Maltese are usually healthy dogs, though they are prone to some hereditary health conditions. They include:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Heart issues, including patent ductus arteriosus
  • Liver issues, including liver shunt and microvascular dysplasia
  • Encephalitis

Learn About the Affectionate and Charming Maltese (5)

Diet and Nutrition

Always have fresh water available for your Maltese. And feed a quality, nutritionally balanced dog food. Most owners opt to feed two meals per day. A diet formulated for small dogs can be ideal, as the pieces will typically be smaller and easier to eat while providing proper nutrition. Monitor treats and other food intake to prevent overeating. Discuss the type of food and quantity with your vet to make sure your dog is getting what it needs for its size and lifestyle.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Maltese

Check local animal shelters and breed-specific rescue groups to find a Maltese in need of a home. If you plan to go to a reputable breeder, expect to pay around $2,000 for a puppy, though this can vary widely depending on bloodline and other factors. For further information to connect you with a Maltese, check out:

Maltese Overview


  • Enjoys being a lapdog

  • Very affectionate

  • Low shedder


  • Requires regular grooming

  • Can be stubborn and defensive

  • Does not tolerate cold weather well

(Video) 7 Reasons Why You Should Never Own Maltese Dogs

10 Best Small Dog Breeds for Limited Space

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

Before bringing home a Maltese, take the time to research to get to know the breed. Discuss it with veterinarians, Maltese owners, reputable breeders, and rescue groups.

If you’re interested in similar breeds, check out:

  • Bichon frise
  • Havanese
  • Lhasa apso

There’s a whole world of potential dog breeds out there—with a little research, you can find the right one to bring home!


  • Are Maltese good family dogs?

    Maltese can be good dogs for families with older children who understand how to be gentle with the small breed. Younger children might be too rough with a Maltese.

  • Are Maltese aggressive?

    (Video) The Maltese Dog - Character, Care and Health

    Maltese typically aren’t aggressive dogs. But their watchdog nature can cause them to become defensive around strangers, usually with lots of barking.

  • Are Maltese good apartment dogs?

    Maltese can be excellent apartment dogs as long as they are trained and socialized well enough that they don’t bark excessively and disturb neighbors. They don’t require much space for their exercise and playtime.

Watch Now: 12 Tiny Dogs That Make for Great Travel Buddies

Article Sources

The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. Maltese. American Kennel Club.

  2. Maltese Puppies For Sale. American Kennel Club.

(Video) Meet Brady: Our Affectionate Maltese Puppy


How affectionate are Maltese? ›

They are typically gentle, loving, obedient, affectionate, smart, and trusting. They are also fun, lively, and very playful even as they get older. They adore humans and like to be very close to them—either right underfoot, cozy in your arms, or cuddling in your lap.

Is Maltese a sweet dog? ›

The Maltese is gentle, affectionate, intelligent, responsive and trusting. A good family dog, Maltese are lively, playful, vigorous, and they generally enjoys learning tricks. They can be snappy with raucous children.

Is it better to have a male or female Maltese? ›

Males bond with their human family, and females tend to be more aloof but are still loving. If you're searching for a loyal dog that never leaves your side, the male is an ideal choice. Females are more independent, but they're less anxious when you leave the house and easier to leave alone than males.

Can Maltese dog be left alone? ›

These small dogs that can be left alone include breeds such as Bichon Frise, Coton de Tulear, Maltese or Toy and Miniature Poodles.

How do you tell if your Maltese loves you? ›

Your dog might jump on you, lick your face, and they'll definitely wag their tail. Being excited and happy to see you is one way you can be assured they love and miss you. They seek physical contact.

Can a Maltese protect you? ›

Protective. Maltese are protective of their personal space and of their owners. Though they are generally patient and gentle, they will bark at people and dogs who get too close before proper introductions are made.

Are Maltese loyal to one person? ›

The Maltese is an enchanting companion dog and they will happily live in a family; however, they bond closely to one person and are too small and gentle for noisy families with young and boisterous children.

What is special about Maltese dog? ›

Famous for their show-stopping, floor-length coat, Maltese are playful, charming, and adaptable toy companions. Maltese are affectionate toy dogs weighing less than seven pounds, covered by a long, straight, silky coat. Beneath the all-white mantle is a compact body moving with a smooth and effortless gait.

Do Maltese dogs have a favorite person? ›

These dogs can become extremely devoted to their favorite human companions, so it's important to make sure they are well socialized with all members of the household. This will help prevent them from becoming overly possessive of their favorite person and snappish toward other family members.

Do Maltese need lots of attention? ›

Because they have a long history as companion dogs, Maltese require a lot of human attention and suffer from separation anxiety. If left alone for hours each day, they can bark and become destructive.

What is life expectancy of a Maltese? ›

Most Maltese will live well into the double digits, with a typical lifespan of 12-15 years. They are a generally healthy breed with few health concerns.

Do male Maltese bark a lot? ›

Though the Maltese may receive a pretty bad rep for being an excessive barker, in many cases this is no more so than the typical toy sized dog. And in addition, it may be a matter of needing to teach right from wrong. How you react to barking will play a huge role in a Maltese's continuation or ceasing of it.

How long can a Maltese hold its pee? ›

A young dog can hold their pee for up to 10-12 hours if needed, but that doesn't mean that they should. The average adult dog should be allowed to relieve itself at least 3-5 times per day. That's at least once every 8 hours.

Should you let your dog sleep with you? ›

So long as your dog is healthy, well-trained and isn't waking you up frequently in the night, feel free to let your pup sleep where they like. Whether or not your pup even wants to be in your bed might just be one of the things your dog wishes you knew.

Do Maltese dogs sleep at night? ›

Older Maltese puppies from 6 to 11 months old sleep 14 to 16 hours in a 24-hour day and are working their way toward sleeping better and longer at night with fewer naps during the daytime. Adult Maltese dogs from the age of 1 to 7 years old sleep approximately 12 to 14 hours in a 24-hour day.

How do I show my Maltese I love him? ›

Give human touch.

Speak to him in quiet, soothing tones. Tell him he's a good boy. Give him a safe and healthy treat that's made just for dogs. Treat him like he's part of your family, because he would do anything for you, no questions asked.

Why does my Maltese dog stare at me? ›

Just as humans stare into the eyes of someone they adore, dogs will stare at their owners to express affection. In fact, mutual staring between humans and dogs releases oxytocin, known as the love hormone. This chemical plays an important role in bonding and boosts feelings of love and trust.

Why does my Maltese follows me everywhere? ›

If your dog follows you everywhere then it's a sign that they trust and love you and that you make them feel safe. Following you very closely can be a sign that they're bored, they want something, they're feeling scared or are just being nosy.

How often should you bathe a Maltese? ›

Maltese do require routine maintenance. A full brush out 2 to 3 times a week is best with baths every 1 to 2 weeks.

Are Maltese stubborn? ›

Characteristics of the Maltese

Maltese tend to be very affectionate with their family. But their watchdog tendencies can make them somewhat defensive around strangers. They can be a bit stubborn when it comes to training, and they are a medium-energy breed.

What are Maltese good at? ›

A Maltese is a good choice for first time owners because of their friendliness and sociability. A true lap dog, the love to show affection and are quick learners when it comes to training. They are gentle dogs that are suited to most sizes of living environments.

Can Maltese dogs be aggressive? ›

Maltese are not typically aggressive unless they're mistreated. They can, however, think of themselves as the alpha dog and try to dominate their owners if they're not properly trained. Their long history as revered companion dogs has made them experts at getting what they want.

Do Maltese calm down? ›

As a Maltese matures, he will calm down quite a bit and not be so hyper. Though, he will still be an alert, active dog. There are some elements that can cause a Maltese to seem lethargic with low energy levels or otherwise withdrawn. Changes to the household can trigger this, as well as issues with lack of stimulation.

Why do dogs put their paw on you? ›

Conclusion: Pawing means your dog wants your attention. If your dog puts their paw on you while you're spending time together, it's likely an expression of affection or the gestural equivalent of “pet me more!”

How do you tell if your dog is obsessed with you? ›

Signs your dog imprinted on you.
  1. They follow you around closely.
  2. They mirror your behaviors.
  3. They follow your commands more readily than they do other people's.
  4. They check in with you frequently when in new environments or situations.
  5. They are constantly seeking out your companionship.
Nov 23, 2022

Do Maltese get bored easily? ›

Living conditions for the Maltese

They are a very playful breed that can get bored if they do not get physically and mentally stimulated so it's important you take them on their daily walks and give them plenty of opportunities for playtime.

What are the cons of having a Maltese? ›

Other cons associated with the Maltese breed include difficulties that many Maltese owners encounter during housetraining. Not all small dog breeds have this issue. The Maltese breed can be difficult to housebreak. Excessive barking and separation anxiety are other cons to consider when selecting a Maltese breed.

Do Maltese get cold? ›

Despite their long coat, most Maltese do not tolerate cold weather well because of their lack of undercoat and small size.

What is the leading cause of death in Maltese? ›

Heart failure is a common cause of death of Maltese in their golden years, and 75% of the heart disease is caused by valve deterioration. A valve that regulates blood flow slowly becomes deformed so that it no longer closes tightly. Blood then leaks back around the valve and strains the heart.

How many times a day do you feed a Maltese? ›

Adults - Small dogs need to eat more frequently than their larger counterparts, so most adult Maltese will never do well with just one meal a day. Adult Maltese can continue eating 3 small meals per day or transition to two.

Which is better Yorkie or Maltese? ›

However, there are some behavioral differences between the yorkie and the maltese. The maltese is friendly and compassionate with people in their family, while the yorkie needs more time to warm up to people, both strangers or otherwise. Because of this, the yorkie makes a better watchdog than the average maltese.

Are Maltese good for seniors? ›

It is ideal for senior citizens because Maltese loves to sit in the owner's lap. Their grooming needs are similar to bichon, and they require periodic grooming. They only weigh 4 to 7 lbs, and their training is easy. These dogs are easy to handle, and you can carry it during traveling.

What do I need to know before buying a Maltese? ›

Maltese are generally healthy dogs. Before getting a Maltese puppy, be sure to ask the breeder if they've screened the litter for PDA (patent ductus arteriosus) and if they've been bile-acid tested for potential issues of the liver. Maltese have a mind of their own, and can at times be a little strong-willed.

How do I stop my Maltese from peeing in the house? ›

10 Proven Ways to Stop Your Dog from Peeing in the House
  1. Visit Your Veterinarian. ...
  2. Clean Up Accidents Properly. ...
  3. Spay or Neuter Your Dog. ...
  4. Train (or Retrain) Your Dog. ...
  5. Give Lots of Potty Breaks. ...
  6. Identify and Eliminate Anxiety Triggers. ...
  7. Calm the Excitement. ...
  8. Introduce New Things Carefully.

How many times a day does a Maltese poop? ›

Times Per Day

In general, a dog should move their bowels at least once a day. Many will go two or three times a day on the regular, but if you're wondering how often do puppies poop, it's closer to five times a day.

Should I take away my dogs water at night? ›

As a rule of thumb, remove the food and water bowls about two-to-three hours before bedtime. So, if your lights-out time is at 11 p.m., a puppy should have no food or water after about 8–8:30 p.m. This gives you a chance to take him out for a one last potty break before settling in for the night.

Can dogs watch TV? ›

Dogs absolutely can see TV, and many seem to enjoy it. There are a number of features about television shows that dogs find attractive. Some of these are visual, such as motion, while others relate to the sounds coming from the TV. Dog eyes are very different from human eyes, so they see things on TV differently.

Why do dogs steal your spot? ›

Seat-Stealing as a Sign of Affection

As social animals, dogs want to be part of a safe and secure place in which they feel they belong. This goes back to the pack mentality of their wolf ancestors. Back then, the strength and support of the den was a matter of life and death, and they'd stop at nothing to protect it.

Why you shouldn't let your dog on the couch? ›

Dogs are “pack” animals which means they think of their human family members as pack mates. When you allow your dog on your sofa or bed, instinct tells them they are equal or above their humans in the pack hierarchy. For some dogs, this can lead to territorial behavior.

Can Maltese see in the dark? ›

Yes, dogs can see in the dark, but not in the way that you could see if you used night vision goggles.

What time should I put my dog to bed? ›

Adult dogs sleep longer at night than puppies do — usually between 60% and 80% of the hours between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. depending on their surroundings and their owner's schedule.

Where should Maltese puppy sleep? ›

Experts say that even the first night at home, your new puppy needs to sleep by himself on his own bed, not snuggled up to you like a favourite stuffed doll. Allowing your new pet to sleep in your bed will quickly become a learned habit, and one that's difficult to break when your dog decides it's your bed or no bed.

Does it matter if I get a male or female dog? ›

Even though there are some established behavioral and physiological differences between male and female dogs, biological gender doesn't play a huge role in the animal's personality as a whole. "There is very little scientific research into whether a male or female dog makes a better pet.

Are female or male dogs easier to take care of? ›

Female dogs tend to be easier to housebreak, easier to train, and more connected with their owners—but in certain circumstances they can be more demanding of attention. Aggression can be a problem in any dog of any breed, however it is usually more apparent in non-neutered males.

Which gender dog is more affectionate? ›

Male dogs are usually more affectionate than females, and some positively crave human attention.

Is it better to get a male or female puppy with a female dog? ›

Gender: While there is no set rule that a female dog will be a better friend for a male dog, if you have never had two dogs at the same time it is generally easier and often safer to have dogs of the opposite sex. Same-sex combinations can be tricky to manage as dogs work out their dominance or pack order.

Are dogs more protective of female owners? ›

Is a Dog More Protective of Female Keepers? This isn't a general rule, but some pets are more likely to exhibit protective behavior with female keepers. This is because women generally have a softer voice and are gentler whenever they care for the dog.

Why do female dogs hump? ›

Whether you call it humping, mounting or thrusting, the behavior is natural in male and female dogs. For some dogs, it is a response to arousal. For others, it can just be a way to exert dominance and show that they're the top dog in the house.

What is second dog syndrome? ›

In dogdom, there's a turn of phrase called, "Second Dog Syndrome". This describes the process of adding another dog to the home quite well, but not necessarily in a positive light. As humans, we are bound to forget all of the time and effort it takes to raise a puppy right.

How do you pick a puppy from a litter? ›

How do I choose a healthy pup?
  1. Talk to the owner. Ask about appetite and eliminations. ...
  2. Observe the litter mates in action. Do they all play together or is there a quiet one that retreats to a corner? ...
  3. Survey their overall appearance. Do the puppies' coats shine? ...
  4. Watch them move. Do they hop around on all four legs?

What is a cutest name for a dog? ›

100 most popular puppy names
  • 50 popular girl puppy names: Luna. Bella. Daisy. Lucy. Bailey. Coco. Lola. Nala. Sadie. Stella. Penny. Molly. Maggie. Rosie. Zoey. Ruby. Lily. Nova. Ellie. Chloe. Pepper. ...
  • 50 popular boy puppy names: Charlie. Max. Milo. Cooper. Rocky. Buddy. Bear. Teddy. Harley. Duke. Zeus. Blue. Jack. Loki. Leo. Oliver. Tucker. Koda. Toby. Bentley.
Dec 18, 2020

At what age should a puppy be house trained? ›

When to Begin House Training Puppy. Experts recommend that you begin house training your puppy when they are between 12 weeks and 16 weeks old. At that point, they have enough control of their bladder and bowel movements to learn to hold it.

Why do dogs lick you? ›

Licking is a natural and instinctive behaviour to dogs. For them it's a way of grooming, bonding, and expressing themselves. Your dog may lick you to say they love you, to get your attention, to help soothe themselves if they're stressed, to show empathy or because you taste good to them!

Is it better to have 2 dogs or 1 dog? ›

yes and no. Dogs are social animals and usually happier around other dogs, but a second dog will never be a substitute for inattentive, absent or too busy owners.

Does my dog know I love her when I kiss her? ›

According to Animal Behaviorists, 'dogs don't understand human kisses the same way that humans do. ' When kissing a young puppy, you may not notice any signs of recognition at all because they have yet to associate kisses with affection.

Can two male dogs mate? ›

Male dogs have homosexual sex under a variety of circumstances. They mount each other in dominance displays, and that mounting can involve anal penetration.

What I wish I knew before getting a second dog? ›

Allocate the Time and Resources for Another Pup

You also have to keep in mind that you'll need to invest extra for essential gear — collars, leashes and crates, to name a just a few items — as well as unexpected vet visits, potential boarding and possible pet sitters and dog walkers.

Do dogs like having a second dog? ›

Dogs are inherently social animals that live well together in groups, but that does not mean that all dogs get along. Most dogs will welcome a new sibling, but it is not always smooth sailing. The furry family member you have now will face many changes when a new dog enters the picture and may feel a bit displaced.


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