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The Maltese - a Quick Guide to a Wonderful Dog

Updated on October 10, 2012
The cute little face of the Maltese
The cute little face of the Maltese | Source


Adored by royalty for over 2,000 years, the Maltese are loving and gentle dogs that crave attention and affection – and they definitely return the favor. Possessing undaunted energy, the Maltese can be a little more of a handful than a typical, biddable lapdog. They love to run around the yard, splash in mud puddles, jump and play – when playtime is over, however, the Maltese is a peerless cuddler.


First recognized as an official breed in Malta, the Maltese was actually developed in Italy over 3,000 years ago. It is thought to have poodle and miniature spaniel blood. The Maltese was brought to England by crusaders from the Mediterranean where they became beloved by royalty around the world. Women slept with the little dogs in their beds and carried them around in their sleeves. As far back as the 16th century, it is claimed that these little dogs were sold for as much as $2,000. The Maltese was recognized as a breed by the AKC in 1988.


Generally speaking, the Maltese is a quiet, polite and gentle dog that is happy with daily half-hour walks, making them perfect for city and apartment dwellers. Terrific with children and other animals, the Maltese is confident around other dogs, having a confident nature, rather than being defensive.


This small dog with a luxuriant coat often inspires humans to pamper them. However, pampering can make this dog irritable and difficult to live with. Making sure the Maltese understands that you are the Pack leader will ensure that this sturdy and confident dog doesn't develop “small dog syndrome”, but is well-behaved and fun to be around.

Maltese who are allowed to be the Pack leader, taking over your house, can develop symptoms of separation anxiety such as obsessive barking, chewing, and guarding. Also, they sometimes become jealous of visitors, barking and snapping at them. These are not typical traits of the Maltese – they are behaviors caused by the way people treat them. Becoming a solid and stable Pack leader will keep these unwanted behaviors at bay.

Show Maltese
Show Maltese | Source


The Maltese does not shed very much, making them an excellent choice for allergy sufferers. You can probably tell by looking at them that the Maltese require daily grooming. Their long, silky coat requires gentle brushing and they should be bathed regularly. To prevent staining of the eyes and beard, each should be cleaned daily.

Many people tie the hair on top of this dog’s head up in a topknot to keep it away from the eyes, while some simply clip this hair short for easier grooming.

Maltese are happy in pairs
Maltese are happy in pairs | Source


The Maltese can live as long as 15 – 18 years and are generally healthy dogs. They are, however, sensitive to extremes of weather, experiencing chills in cold weather and discomfort in the heat. Prone to sunburn along the part in their hair, the Maltese should be kept out of the heat and direct sunlight, as well as the cold and damp areas.

The Maltese are prone to sensitive skin, eye issues, and respiratory problems. Also, Slipped Stifle (called “Patellar Luxation” is a condition where the dog’s hind knee joint slips out of place) can be an issue.

The Maltese, as many other dogs, suffers from dental problems. Feeding your dog dry food, dry biscuits, and dental bones can help keep teeth clean and healthy. In addition to regular grooming and dental care, taking your dog for daily walks is necessary not only for exercise, but to prevent behavioral problems.

Maltese Puppy
Maltese Puppy | Source


The Maltese is not a cheap breed. If you are seeking a purebred Maltese you should be aware of what type of breeder you are purchasing from –the quality and cost can vary a great deal.

Purchasing from a reputable breeder who has their dogs and puppies health-tested, competes, and offers a respectable contract and guarantee, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 - $1,000 for a puppy or retired breeding dog. For a show-prospect puppy or titled and tested adult, you may pay between $900 - $5,000 or more, depending on the age, health, temperament and pedigree of the pup. For a rescued, altered and vaccinated dog: $50 - $300.

Not all dogs that are bred and their puppies sold are equal – this is why it is important to do your research before buying. Remember, in addition to reputable breeders, there are puppy mills, pet stores, and back yard breeders. These breeders usually love their dogs but often do not understand how to uphold the AKC standards of the Maltese breed. They often pair Buster and Bella to have “just one litter,” with no knowledge of the dogs’ heritage or health, and are now selling those puppies. This can end in total disaster.

Show breeders, on the other hand, invest years into studying the Maltese breed and buying, showing and breeding these dogs. They put a lot of effort into bettering the breed through careful planning. The primary difference in breeders, however, is the breeder’s ethical standards.

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Annual cost of owning a small dog such as a Maltese are shown below:

Costs Small Dog

Annual Costs

Food $200.00

Medical $300.00

Toys/Treats $120.00

License $25.00

Misc. $50.00

Annual Total $695.00

Capital Costs

Spay/neuter $75.00

Collar/Leash $35.00

Carrier $30.00

Crate $50.00

Capital Total $190.00

Special Costs

Long Hair Groom $540.00

First year total $2,310.00

Annual Total after First Year $1,235.00


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    • profile image

      Brandi 24 months ago

      "Divine Maltese" is wonderful place to purchase a champion Maltese. Ask for Angela or Larry Stanberry. Wonderful loving people.

    • profile image 3 years ago

      can you help me locate a companion for my male 2 year old boy maltese

    • PawsitiveBehavior profile image

      Cyd Oldham 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Not my pups, though I agree they are cuties. I have 3 dogs which weigh over 100 lbs: 2 Chocolate Labs and a Black Lab/Great Dane mix. I'd like to have a lap dog (that doesn't weigh 100 lbs), but really don't have room right now. :)

      Thanks so much for reading, and for your comment.

    • Keanku profile image

      Keanku 5 years ago from Illinois

      I really appreciate that you added in the cost of grooming! Those are sweet babies in your pictures, Cyd. Are they your pups?