Maltese Breed - Dog & Puppy Information & Characteristics

The Maltese dog breed is categorized as toy breeds because of their small sizes. These dogs are also known as lapdogs as they love sitting on your lap and will never let go of a chance to snuggle with you! Maltese are adorable dogs that are perfect for first-time pet owners and adapt well in families. Those living in an apartment can also prefer the Maltese dog breed as it does not need much space to settle. The coat of Maltese dogs is a very unique feature and is their instant identification feature. It is white with flowy fur that reaches until its toes. They are playful and outgoing and have a charming nature. The Maltese dog breed has floppy ears that reach their little jaws and a proportionate body. 

Maltese dogs’ temperament is friendly and gentle. They are intelligent dogs who have a fun streak in them as well. They have moderate energy levels and like having fun and goofing around. You cannot expect a Maltese dog to be quiet. They will bark to let you know if they are happy or if anything does not sit well with them. Cold weather is suitable for Maltese dogs. They also thrive well in other weather conditions. These dogs exhibit strong loyal tendencies and love spending time with their owners and people they are close to.

The correct name for this beautiful toy breed is Maltese (not Maltese Terrier as it is often referred to). No one is certain of the origins of the breed despite claims that they came from the island of Malta, or that they are similar to the dogs worshipped by the ancient Egyptians. There is little doubt though that they are one of the oldest of all dog breeds, with records of this type of dog dating from 6000 BC. They were a prized possession of the people of Malta, as well as an exotic animal of trade in the Middle East.

Key Specifications of Maltese Dog Breed

  • Weight

    - A healthy Maltese dog weighs between 3 to 4 kgs.

  • Height

    - An adult Maltese dog could stand anywhere between 7-9 inches tall.

  • Lifespan

    - The average lifespan of a Maltese dog is 12-15 years.

  • Coat

    - They have a long white flowy coat that is soft to touch.

Maltese’s Characteristics and Behavioural Traits

  • The Maltese dog breed is very good with children, old people and even other pets.
  • These dogs are playful and easy to train.
  • Despite their long furred coat, they do not shed heavily.
  • They do not require a lot of space and can be adopted by those living in an apartment.
  • They have low exercising needs.

Physical appearance

The Maltese dogs have a small compact body. So small that you can carry them in your arms. They have a slight broad head, round face on which their round black eyes and nose distinctly stand out. Their long, fluffy and white coat is their distinguishing feature. The Maltese dogs’ entire bodies are covered in silk fur, even their face and legs. They have floppy ears and feathered tails that curl on their hips. With their compact size and large doe-like eyes, you will not be able to resist picking these lovely dogs in your arms and snuggling up to them! These dogs have Black Points-like markings on their coat. Maltese owners get the liberty to style their pet’s long fur in various styles. Maltese dogs’ coats come in 3 colours.

  • White
  • White and Lemon
  • White and Tan

If you want to adopt a purebred Maltese or want to know how to identify one, here are some of its classic characteristics -

  • Purebred Maltese dogs’ have dark alert eyes.
  • Their necks are always upright.
  • Their tails are curved and sit coiled at their hips.
  • These dogs walk with quick and small strides.
  • Their paw pads and nails are black.


It is absolutely joyful to have Maltese dogs around! Their playful and gentle nature makes you want to keep playing with them or snuggle with them. They also do not shy away from being affectionate towards their owners. These dogs also get along well with children and seniors alike. It is also safe to raise them in a multi-pet household but it would be more convenient if you train them from the puppy stage to co-habit with other pets. Maltese dogs can stay alone for a short while but do not cope with being left alone for long hours. They may start barking if they feel alone. Showering them with lots of attention and love can get them to stop barking. They also have moderate energy levels and if you do not exercise them they may feel restless because of pent up energy. Apart from these situations, Maltese dogs do not bark unnecessarily.

Care requirements for Maltese Dog

Here’s more information on Maltese dog breeds that you should know if you are thinking of adopting one:

  • Health

    Maltese dogs are generally a healthy breed but as the owner of these dogs, you should be aware of certain health issues they may experience. Being a small breed, you should ensure that these dogs do not jump or fall from a height. This could injure them pretty badly. Your Maltese dog could develop luxated patellas wherein their kneecaps become weak and may slip out of place. These dogs are also prone to developing Legge-Calve-Perthes Disease (LCPD) which affects their hips but this disease is not seen in puppies older than 1 year. Taking care of their oral hygiene is also very important because they are also susceptible to developing dental problems. Maltese dogs also experience liver issues like liver shunt and microvascular dysplasia.

  • Grooming

    As much as it is fun to style Maltese dogs’ coats, you must know that it requires regular grooming. Their coat grows continuously and to make maintenance a tad bit easier, owners can choose to get their dog’s coat trimmed short. If you choose to keep its coat long, you have to brush its coat 2-3 times to prevent it from getting tangled and dirty. You will also have to get the coat trimmed regularly if you want to maintain the desired length of the coat. Monthly baths are also important to remove dirt from the Maltese’s coat and to maintain its soft texture and shine. It is also important to check their ears for infection and trim their nails regularly. It is also advisable to tie the hair on the top of Maltese’s head to prevent the hair from going into its eyes. The coat of these dogs also gets tear-stained easily. It is advisable to consult the vet to ensure there are no underlying causes of the same. You could prevent tear stains by keeping the fur around the eyes clean and dry.

  • Exercise

    Maltese dogs do not require rigorous exercises but half-hour every day should be set aside for physical activities. You could take your dog out for brisk walks, short hikes and even play games with it. Since these dogs do not have an undercoat, they do not tolerate extreme temperatures. Especially in winters, it is advisable to keep outdoor exercises for a short period. Or you could provide a sweater to your Maltese dog for an outdoor exercising session.

  • Nutrition

    You can feed your Maltese dog two nutritionally balanced meals every day. It is advisable to feed food that is tailor-made for small dog breeds to your Maltese. You must also keep a check on the number of times you feed treats to your dog to avoid obesity. You could also discuss the ideal diet plan for your Maltese dog with the vet.

  • Training

    Maltese dogs also need to be trained to behave well and properly socialise. These dogs respond well to obedience training and it is advisable to start training them from the puppy stage. You may also introduce it to new people and the environment to get them acquainted with them. They also may get uncomfortable and start barking at strangers. You have to instill confidence in them and also teach them manners.

History of Maltese dogs

The origin of Maltese dogs can be traced back to the Malta region in the Mediterranean. Mentions of these dogs can be found on ancient Greek pottery. It is said that the popular philosopher Aristotle was also fond of the Maltese dog breed. These dogs were also bred as social status by Roman aristocrats. After the downfall of the Roman empire, the number of these dogs were dwindling. But Chinese breeders had continued breeding them. Britney Spears, Eva Longoria, Jessica Simpson, Halle Berry, Star Jones, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor are some of the most popular figures who own/owned Maltese dogs.

Read up on all dog breeds and find the perfect pet for yourself on our breeds category page.

FAQs on Maltese Dog Breeds

Yes, Maltese dogs get along well with other pets if you train them well and raise them in a multi-pet household.

Yes, Maltese dogs are good family dogs. They have a gentle temperament and are friendly.

Maltese dogs do not cope with being separated from their owner for long periods. They tend to bark a lot when left alone.

No, Maltese dogs are not easy to groom. Their long coat requires consistent grooming and trimming.

No, Maltese dogs do not bark unnecessarily. They will bark when they see strangers or when kept alone for a long duration.

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