- Although your Maltese will want to please you, he can be difficult to housetrain. Crate training is recommended.
- Maltese are prone to chills, especially if they are damp or walking in damp areas.
- If your Maltese has long hair, he can get sunburned on the skin where the hair is parted on the back.
- Because of their small size and delicate structure, Maltese generally aren’t recommended for households with toddlers or small children.
- Some Maltese have delicate digestive systems and may be picky eaters. Eating problems can occur if your Maltese has teeth or gum problems as well. If your Maltese is showing discomfort when eating or after eating, take him to the vet for a checkup.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
The Maltese dog is one of the most ancient of the toy breeds, with a history that can be traced back at least two millennia. Artists, poets, and writers immortalized this small dog in the early great cultures of Greece, Rome, and Egypt. They even were mentioned by Aristotle. The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese dogs, while representations of Maltese-like dogs on Egyptian artifacts suggest that they were prized by that ancient culture. The Egyptians and, centuries later, many Europeans, thought that the Maltese had the ability to cure people of disease and would place one on the pillow of an ill person. This inspired one of its names — “The Comforter.” Even before the Christian Era, the breed was widespread in Mediterranean cultures.
Despite his prominence in history, the exact origin of the Maltese dog is uncertain. Many believe the breed was developed in the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea from Spitz- or Spaniel-type dogs. Others believe he was developed in Italy, and still others believe that he was originally from Asia and had a part in developing many of the smaller Asian dogs.
Wherever he came from, the Maltese thrived. By the 15th century, he had found a secure place in the arms and hearts of French aristocrats. During the reign of Henry VIII, Maltese arrived in the British Isles. By the end of the 16th century, the Maltese had become a favorite pet for noble and royal ladies. The little dog was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria. Numerous painters, including Goya and Sir Joshua Reynolds, included these small dogs in their portraits of beautiful women.
Although he survived the fall of the Roman Empire and the Dark Ages, the Maltese was nearly destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries when attempts were made to breed him to be the size of a squirrel. After this nearly disastrous experiment, breeders mixed poodles, miniature spaniels, and East Asian miniature dogs with the breed to save it. This resulted in the Maltese becoming so varied that several new breeds were formed. It is thought by many that Maltese are the direct ancestors of the Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Havanese breeds.
English breeders developed the Maltese as we know him now. Many of the Maltese in the U.S. today trace their heritage back to English imports. Maltese were first seen in the U.S. in the late 1800s. They were entered in the earliest Westminster Kennel Club shows in the 1870s.
The number of Maltese dogs registered with the AKC grew very slowly until the 1950s. Since then, the breed has become quite popular. Maltese are one of the most popular breeds among spectators at dog shows, and frequently win the Toy Group. They also have an excellent record in the “Best in Show” competition.
Is this breed right for you?
If you’re looking for a pint-sized best friend to bring with you everywhere, the Maltese is right for you. Allergy sufferers rejoice! This breed’s luxurious coat of hair means no dander, which will keep sneezing and sniffling to a minimum. The Maltese is a small and fragile breed, especially in its puppy years, and therefore must be supervised around little kids. A perfect companion dog, this adorable breed gets along with just about anyone — canine, feline and human.
Temperament and Personality
Despite his tiny size, the Maltese is a lively and vigorous dog. He loves nothing more than to spend the day with his family.
Because Maltese are so focused on their people, they take well to training. Attention and the ability to please are all it takes to get a Maltese to learn. He’s a ham who will show off tricks at home and excel in dog sports, including agility, obedience, rally and, believe it or not, tracking. A Maltese can also be a super therapy dog.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. He is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality.
The perfect Maltese doesn’t spring fully formed from the whelping box. He’s a product of his background and breeding. Whatever you want from a Maltese, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
Prone to sunburn along the hair parting, skin, eye issues, respiratory, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.
Maltese have no undercoat, and have little to no shedding if cared for properly. Like their relatives, the Poodles and Bichon Frisé, they are considered to be largely hypoallergenic and many people who are allergic to dogs may not be allergic to the Maltese. Daily cleaning is required to prevent the risk of tear-staining. Many owners find that a weekly bath is sufficient for keeping the coat clean, although it is recommended to not wash a dog so often, so washing your Maltese every 3 weeks is sufficient, although if the dog keeps clean even longer than that. They need to get professionally groomed about once every month and a half.
Regular grooming is also required to prevent the coats of non-shedding dogs from matting. Many owners will keep their Maltese clipped in a “puppy cut,” a 1 – 2″ all over trim that makes the dog resemble a puppy. Some owners, especially those who show Maltese in the sport of conformation, prefer to wrap the long fur to keep it from matting and breaking off, and then to show the dog with the hair unwrapped combed out to its full length. Some Maltese need to be blow-dried in order to prevent mats because drying is ineffective to some dogs.
Dark staining in the hair around the eyes, “tear staining”, can be a problem in this breed, and is mostly a function of how much the individual dog’s eyes water and the size of the tear ducts. To get rid of tear staining, you can get a solution or powder specially made for tear stains, which can often be found in local pet stores. A fine-toothed metal pet comb, moistened with hot water and applied perhaps twice weekly, also works extremely well. The antibiotic, Cephalexin has been shown to completely clear up “tear staining” in some cases.
Maltese are susceptible to “reverse sneezing,” which sounds like a honking, snorting, or gagging sound and results often from over-excitement, play, allergies, or upon waking up. It is not life-threatening or dangerous, it will go away after about a minute.
They are ranked 59th out of 69 in Stanley Coren’s The Intelligence of Dogs
. which indexes obedience and the ability of a dog breed to follow commands, with very light focus on skills seen outside of working breeds, such as emotional intelligence.
Maltese tend to have many or several tooth problems usually resulting in cavities, without proper care the infected teeth may fall out as the dog gets older. Maltese might need additional care, and have their teeth brushed with soft-bristled toothbrush and special dog toothpaste every week to avoid tooth problems.
The Maltese is a good dog for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Maltese need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. They remain playful well into old age. They are very active indoors.
The glamorous Maltese is a high-maintenance dog. The Maltese has a silky single white coat that should be groomed daily with a pin brush or a stainless steel comb to prevent or remove any mats and tangles. Maltese who are allowed to become matted will probably need to be trimmed short because it will be too painful to comb or brush out the mats.
As you comb or brush your Maltese, spray the coat with a mixture of coat conditioner diluted with water. This will help protect the hair from breakage and prevent the buildup of static. When your Maltese is dry and beautiful, pull up the hair around his face into a cute topknot or trim it so it doesn’t fall into his eyes.
Bathe your Maltese whenever his coat starts to look dingy. With the gentle pet shampoos available, you can bathe him weekly if you want without harming his coat.
Before bathing, comb the coat out thoroughly to remove all tangles. Use a whitening shampoo, followed by a conditioner for dogs with long hair. Rinse thoroughly, and then rinse again to make sure you’ve removed all the shampoo and conditioner. Use a towel to soak up as much moisture as possible, then blow dry the coat until it is completely dry. Never let your Maltese air-dry, or his coat won’t look pretty at all.
If all of this sounds like too much work, take your Maltese to a professional groomer who can give the coat the care it needs or trim it into an easy-care puppy clip that you can manage at home.
Of course, a Maltese also needs the same basic care as other dogs. Trim his nails every week or two, short enough that they don’t click on the floor, and brush his teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Children and other pets
Most Maltese breeders will not sell puppies to families with young children. It’s just too easy for a toddler to injure a tiny Maltese by dropping him, stepping on him, or holding him too tightly. He does much better in a home with quiet older children or adults only who will treat him with the care he needs.
Maltese can get along with other dogs and cats if they are socialized to them at an early age. They’re unaware of their tiny size, however, and must be protected from taking on dogs that are ten or twenty times their size.
Did You Know?
The sweet little Maltese is a favorite of celebrities, including Halle Berry, Heather Locklear, and Eva Longoria. Could it be because they’re so darn cute in photographs? We think so.
A dream day in the life of a Maltese
Looking adorable while sitting on your lap is all in a day’s work for the Maltese. Compact and friendly as can be, this breed loves to go anywhere with you. More than just a beautiful face, this pooch has brains and loves to show them off. A day of learning new tricks and showing off would keep this pup’s tail wagging. Resist the urge to coddle your Maltese — yes, it makes them happy, but in the long run it’s best to teach them a little independence.