One of the most well-loved companion breeds in the world is the Maltese, and it’s been a long-time favorite for a reason. Here’s what you need to know about these friendly, loving pups before adding one to your family.
Basic Characteristics of the Maltese
If you’re wanting the perfect-sized lap dog, look no further than the Maltese dog. This breed is quite small, being a toy dog breed, reaching heights of only around 8 to 10 inches and a final adult weight of approximately 3 to 7 pounds. Dogs of this breed are small enough to provide snuggles and companionship without overwhelming you, ensuring they’re a great fit as loyal and loving companions for pet parents of any age and in any living situation. With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years as well, these sweet pups are able to stick around for the long haul and share many years of fun and enjoyment with their families, too.
Surprisingly, the wonderful Maltese is a breed with ancient roots tied to the Mediterranean. No one is quite sure where they initially originated, but it’s suspected that they may have first come about in Sicily, Egypt, or southern Europe. However, the breed’s name stems from Malta, an island located not far off the coast of Italy, where the breed became a popular and beloved companion after the Phoenicians brought them to the area circa 1000 BCE.
During the 1800s, this lovable breed finally made its way to Britain and became a dog show favorite, along with remaining a top choice for companionship. It wasn’t long until the Maltese made its way to the United States as well, becoming just as popular and beloved as it had been in all of the other regions to have provided this breed a place to call home.
Grooming and Varieties
The Maltese is typically an “all-white” dog, and AKC standards are pretty strict about that. However, pups of this breed may sometimes have more of an ivory color or even some lemon coloring in their coat, especially on the ears. In general, though, color variations are not something common among these little snowballs.
This breed can flaunt a short or long hairdo, but the amount of grooming you’ll have to keep up with to maintain a notable length won’t be easy. A lot of pet parents of Maltese pups like to get “puppy cuts” to keep their coats short and manageable, but for those who plan to include their snow white companion in shows and competitions, flowing locks are often a requirement and will also mean plenty of time spent preventing knots and tangles galore. On a positive note, though, this breed is not known for shedding, meaning your home will be much cleaner, and allergy sufferers will have a much easier time being around these pups!
Considering how well-known the Maltese is for being a loving companion, it goes without saying that these dogs are incredibly friendly, loyal, and loving toward their pet parents and nearly everyone else as well! Their loyalty makes them form incredibly strong bonds with those they become close to, and they also become quite protective even if they’re not the most threatening pup out there—they’ll certainly try their best and make great alert dogs.
Much to many people’s delight, the Maltese is energetic and playful and always down for some fun but not to the extent that you’ll need to be concerned about managing exercise and enrichment needs like in some other breeds. However, it is important to socialize them so they learn to interact with people and animals of all ages, sizes, and other temperaments.
These pups are definitely people pleasers and respond well to positive reinforcement training, but they can sometimes be a bit stubborn, which may make potty training difficult in some cases.
It’s also important to note that their high social needs and affection towards their chosen pet parents and other favorite humans mean that this breed is prone to experiencing anxiety and other such concerns if not given enough attention and interaction each day. This is not a pup you can leave at home alone all day!
Exercising Your Maltese
This breed has a lot of fun and playful energy, but it luckily doesn’t require as much exercise as other dog breeds with the same level of energy and excitement! Due to their small stature, providing the necessary exercise for Maltese won’t wear you out in the process. Providing one of these pups with a walk of about 20 to 30 minutes outdoors each day, along with plenty of playtime, tends to be perfectly sufficient for keeping them happy and mentally and physically stimulated.
Although it’s a bit unlikely, pet parents should keep in mind that each individual pup will vary, so if you’re a pretty active person and bringing your Maltese along and they show any signs of exhaustion, you may want to consider cutting back on their level of exercise or finding another way to accommodate their personal specific energy and exertion levels.
Due to their small stature, Maltese dogs will only consume about ¼ of a cup to ¾ of a cup of food per day. As with any breed, it’s important to provide them with high-quality and well-balanced food, especially as they’re developing during the puppy years and later on as they become seniors. With this breed, skin allergies are also a common concern, so many pet parents choose to feed their Maltese a limited-ingredient diet to help avoid this concern.
If you’re unsure what type of food is best for your Maltese, be sure to ask your pup’s veterinarian for recommendations. And watch out—these pups are known for being picky eaters!
The Maltese is an overall healthy breed, but there are still quite a few issues that commonly occur amongst the members of this adorable toy breed:
- Collapsed trachea
- Luxating patella (a mild-to-severe knee condition)
- Progressive retinal atrophy (“PRA” — an inherited condition)
- Reverse sneezing (due to overstimulation, allergies, or when first waking up)
- White dog shaker syndrome (a harmless but sometimes disconcerting bout of shaking due to excitement)
One of the most serious concerns of these is a collapsed trachea, which may initially sound and appear similar to the reverse sneezing that occurs in breeds like the Maltese, but it’s much more serious and requires emergency medical care. If your Maltese appears to be having “reverse sneezing fits” too often, or you notice them having a cough that’s very harsh-sounding, dry, and overly persistent, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Bringing Your New Maltese Home
Due to their small size, the Maltese is a great option for those in nearly any sized home looking to bring home the perfect little companion—no large yard or fenced-in area required! However, potential pet parents should be absolutely sure that they are able to provide the time and amount of attention needed to keep these pups happy and feeling well-loved.
When looking for a Maltese to add to your family, you can expect to pay around $600 to $2340 if you plan to adopt from a reputable breeder with a reliable background that provides pedigree Maltese pups, especially if you have any intention of showing or breeding your new pal. However, there are also rescues available that are helping Maltese pups in need find their forever homes, such as the American Maltese Rescue Association, Northcentral Maltese Rescue, Southern Comfort Maltese Rescue, and many of the shelters and other programs listed on both Rescue Me as well as Petfinder.
After you’ve found the perfect Maltese to bring home, Space Coast Pet Services has you covered, whether you need some help with in-home pet visits, pet sitting, or just taking your furry little companion out for walks as needed. We provide care and services for all breeds of dogs, so you can rest assured that your new Maltese friend will be in great hands.
Melanie is the owner and founder of Brevard’s premier trusted in-home pet care company. With a Sociology & Criminal Justice degree from the University of Tennessee, she took her corporate security background and combined it with her lifelong passion for animals – that’s how Space Coast Pet Services was born in 2016! She is certified in Pet First Aid & CPR, insured, and proudly completed a full background check successfully. She is committed to ongoing training and education for herself and her team. To learn more, click here.
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