A popular companion dog known for their sweet nature and spunk. Here's all about how to care for the Maltese breed.
It’s almost impossible to miss a Maltese with their show-stopping, floor-length white tresses, adorable floppy ears, and tufted tail. Although many pet parents choose to keep their pup’s coat short, they still have an iconic, silky smooth coat with unmatched elegance and balance to their features.
Read on to learn more about these charming, agile dogs, their dominant characteristics, and breed-related health issues.
Where are Maltese Dogs From?
Maltese are from the island of Malta, which lies approximately 60 miles south of Sicily in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta was a thriving seaport for pilgrims, mariners, and rich merchants during ancient times. During the fourth and fifth centuries B.C., the Greeks became fascinated with the beautiful Maltese, even erecting tombs for them.
Later, Roman aristocrats popularized the breed, making them a status symbol for fashion, charm, and elegance.
In 1877, the first Maltese was exhibited in the United States as a Maltese Lion Dog. Today, the Maltese is a popular companion breed known for its charm, sweet nature, and spunk.
The Maltese’s luxurious, floor-length coat make them a show stopper. Underneath their thick coat is a muscular, compact body that glides with grace Their black gumdrop noses and large, dark eyes will melt just about anyone’s heart.
Don’t be fooled into thinking Maltese are docile based on their small size. Despite weighing under seven pounds, these dogs are playful and fearless “alert” dogs who will alert their owners with a wave of barking whenever someone approaches the home.
The Maltese’s standard color is white with black points, but they also come in white and lemon, and white and tan varieties. Most Maltese live between 12 and 15 years and stand between seven and nine inches tall.
The sweet-natured Maltese can be prone to separation anxiety. Like many companion dog breeds, they are happiest when spending a lot of time with their family. However, providing your Maltese with plenty of one-on-one playtime, cuddling, and mental stimulation can reduce their anxiety.
The Maltese are a vocal dog breed that is reserved around strangers, making them prone to barking whenever an unknown person approaches the home. Early training is critical for minimizing undesired, excessive barking.
In terms of trainability, Maltese dogs learn quickly but often have a stubborn streak, so be prepared to do reward-based training with games or food to keep your Maltese engaged.
Maltese Breed-Related Health Issues
Many health conditions are genetic, meaning that your dog’s breed will affect what health issues they are more prone to developing.
Some of the most common breed-related health issues in Maltese include glaucoma, cancer, infections, and dental disease.
The American Maltese Association also notes that older Maltese are more susceptible to heart murmurs. Typically, soft heart murmurs do not require treatment, but if the heart murmur progresses, this can lead to labored breathing, coughing, and mild exercise intolerance. If you notice any of these signs, consult your dog’s veterinarian, as heart medications and treatments are available to reduce stress on the heart and minimize the risk of heart failure.
Remember, routine veterinary care can help your Maltese live a longer and healthier life. Healthy lifestyle choices like regular screenings, a proper diet, and exercise are all ways to improve your pup’s quality of life.
Maltese Breed Care
With their long, luscious coats, it’s natural to wonder, “Do Maltese dogs shed?”
Fortunately, Maltese shed a minimal amount. However, they do require significant coat grooming to maintain their luxurious appearance.
Comb your dog’s coat once or twice a day to prevent matted hair, and always keep your dog’s hair out of their eyes to avoid irritation.
Many Maltese pet parents also choose to have their dogs professionally groomed and their hair clipped to make maintenance easier.
Despite their full coat, most Maltese dogs do not tolerate cold weather because of their tiny size, lack of an undercoat, and heritage.
Remember, the Maltese was bred in Malta, which has a subtropical, Mediterranean climate with mild winters. As a result, these dogs need extra warmth from a sweater when going out in cold weather!
Maltese are also more prone to dental problems. However, you can largely prevent this with regular, at-home teeth brushing and dental exams from their veterinarian.
Like many toy dog breeds, Maltese dogs and puppies should be fed frequently to prevent hypoglycemia, a condition where the blood sugar is lower than the standard range. Hypoglycemia can lead to symptoms like dizziness and vomiting, so feed your Maltese at least two to three times a day to help them avoid these uncomfortable symptoms.
The Maltese has moderate exercise needs, which you can largely meet with games and play indoors or in the backyard. However, they need a lot of mental stimulation, so regular, short walks around the block are essential to keep them physically and mentally fit.
Consider switching up playtime activities often to keep your pup more engaged. Maltese dogs are ideal candidates for agility training, so your dog may particularly enjoy games, tricks, or play involving leaps, weaving, or spinning.
Lastly, feisty Maltese dogs have been known to challenge or go after larger dogs, so keep them away from dog parks unless the park is divided into small and big dogs.
Maltese typically stay in good weight, but you should closely monitor their snacks as small dog treats or human food scraps can quickly add too many calories to their diet.
A balanced diet packed with nutrients and flavor is a perfect choice. Sundays all-natural food is gently air-dried, veterinarian-designed, and picky-eater approved. Sundays for Dogs is made entirely with human-grade ingredients, 90% meat, and no DCM-linked ingredients, which is especially important for dogs like the Maltese that are more prone to heart problems.
Perfect for supporting your Maltese’s high energy and spunk!