Maltese Terrier – Charming and Active Small Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Here is everything that you should know about the fantastic breed of Maltese Terrier. Read on to learn about the breed's history, personality, and training preferences.
Dog Breed Group:
Companion Dogs
8 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Up to 7 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 15 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

By many owners, Maltese Terrier is described as gentle, charming, and playful.

This breed has a lively spirit and gets along great, both with children and other pets. Here is everything you should know about this wonderful breed.

Quick Facts

Real name: Maltese
Other names: Sleeve Dog
Origin: Malta
Breed type: Toy Group
Weight: Male 1.4–3.6 kg (3–8 lb), Female 0.91–3.18 kg (2–7 lb)
Height: Male 20–25 cm (8–10 in), Female 20–23 cm (8–9 in)
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years
Litter size: avg. 1 to 3 puppies
Color: White
Coat: Long and silky

Maltese Terrier History

The Maltese dog is one of the oldest toy breeds, with a history that can be traced back at least two millennia. This dog is immortalized in the early great cultures of Rome, Egypt, and Greece.

Even Aristotle mentions this breed is his documents. The Greeks also erected tombs for their Maltese dogs, while Egyptians believed that these small dogs have the power to cure people.

To help people feel better, they would put a Maltese on the pillow of an ill person. This is why the breed is often called – “The Comforter.”

Many believe that this breed originated in Malta, bt the origin is still unknown in reality.

By the 15th century, the Maltese Terrier was the most popular dog between French aristocrats.

By the end of the 16th century, every lady has a Maltese Terrier on their side. This playful dog was a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Victoria, and Mary Queen of Scots.

Also, numerous painters included these small dogs in portraits, such as Goya and Sir Joshua Reynolds.

This breed was almost destroyed in the 17th and 18th centuries when various attempts were made to breed him to be the size of a squirrel.

After this horrible experiment, breeders mixed poodles, miniature spaniels, and even East Asian miniature dogs with the breed to save it.

This resulted in the Maltese becoming so varied that several new breeds were formed.

Many believe that Maltese Terries are direct ancestors of famous little dogs: Bichon Frise, Bolognese, and Havanese breeds.

English breeders developed the Maltese as we know him now. The number of these small dogs grew slowly until the 1950s, and since then, the breed has become quite popular.

Today, Maltese is one of the most popular dogs. They are often seen at a dog show, and commonly, they win the Toy Group. They also have an excellent record in the “Best in Show” competition.

Maltese Terrier Physical Appearance

This toy dog is covered with white and silky hair. Unless they are groomed short, they will always appear with a long and silky, also white, hair.

This dog is eager, affectionate, and active. Moreover, this breed has a strong need to be loved all the time, so they will be a sturdy companion as long as they get enough love, affection, and playtime. These dogs are small.

Usually, the weight under 7 pounds, with from 4 to 6 pounds preferred. The Head is in proportion with the size of the dog.

The skull is rounded on top, while the drop ears are set low and heavily feathered.

Eyes are very dark and round, while the nose is black. The teeth meet in an even, edge-to-edge bite, or in a scissors bite. The body is compact, as this breed usually weighs no more than seven pounds at maturity.

Still, four to six pounds are preferred. Females are slightly smaller than males.

This is a dog with a lively personality and strong posture. This dog will make a fair stand, and his deep chest will help him in a strong appearance. Since this is a compact dog, legs are fine-boned and robust.

Plus, legs are nicely feathered. Als, hind legs are strong, while feet are small and round. This breed has no undercoat, while the coat is silky, flat, and long unless groomed to be short.

Color is always pure white, while the lemon or light tan on the ears is allowed, but not desirable. A long-haired plume carried gracefully over the back, its tip lying to the side over the quarter.

Maltese Terrier Nutrition

The Maltese should do well on high-quality dog food. If you choose to feed your Maltese or raw food, talk with your veterinarian. Dog’s diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age.

You should never feed a puppy with senior’s food and vice versa. Some dogs are prone to obesity, so make sure that you don’t overdo with treats and human foods.

Make sure that you know which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not.

If you have any concerns about the dog’s diet and food, always talk with your veterinarian.

Maltese Terrier Temperament

The Maltese has a lively personality and loves pleasing people. They respond well to interesting training sessions, and they always respond well to positive reinforcements such as play, praise, and food rewards.

In a way, they are fearless, because they strongly believe that everyone they meet – human or animal – is a friend.

They are sweet and cute, and they are globally known for getting their way.

As expected, their temperament can be affected by some factors, including training, socialization, and heredity.

Since Maltese comes with a great temperament it doesn’t surprise that this breed is often used to create new dog mixes, such as Maltese Shih Tzu – a mix between Maltese and Shih Tzu.

Maltese puppies are like any other puppies, and they love to explore the world and to play.

They are also willing to approach people often, and they don’t even mind being held. They have a rather dynamic personality while they are active and full of energy.

This may be unusual for a small dog, but you will have to keep up with your small canine. They also love to rest.

So, longer the walk, longer the rest. Regular walks are a great routine for your Maltese to stay fit throughout life.

They are great family pets, as they will get along with other pets and children nicely. They are faithful and even great guard dogs because they have a tendency to bark a lot.

So, barking can be an issue if not trained at the right time. Although they will get along nicely with other pets, they love being the primary pet. If left alone, they should be provided with many toys to keep them entertained.

Since they are small in size, this breed can be a great city dog, because they can fit in smaller apartments and big houses, or small houses with yards.

They love to spend time indoors, so make sure that you always have a bowl of fresh water for your Maltese easy to reach.

Maltese Terrier Training

The lovely Maltese is a highly intelligent dog, and as such, he will need serious training and fun training sessions. This breed is known as humans so well, that Maltese is not bored.

It’s also important to be patient with this breed. These small athletic dogs are great competitive companions in dog sports, such as agility or obedience. They can be stubborn and determined, but they will respond well to positive training methods.

Like with any other dog breed, you should expose your Maltese from an early age to different places, sounds, and smells. Early socialization is the only way to ensure that you have a properly behaved dog.

Maltese Terrier Exercise

This small white dog is full of energy.

Still, to keep up with that energy, you will need proper and consistent exercise time. Providing adequate exercise time is the best way to keep your dog both happy and healthy.

Provide daily walks and playtime, even indoor games to keep them fit.

Maltese Terrier Grooming

The popular Maltese has silk and long coat (unless shortened), which makes the appearance eye-catching. This beauty requires your time when it comes to grooming.

This coat requires daily gentle brushing and combing to prevent tangles and mats.

Also, Maltese should have regular baths and coats to keep their hair looking its best. Check ears weekly and remove any excess wax or hair, as well as accumulated debris.

Malteses are prone to dental disease as they get older, so special attention should be put to their teeth.

Check gums weekly, and if you notice excessive tear-staining around the eyes, you should take your Maltese for a quick check-up. Your veterinarian will explain to you how to maintain the area around.

Maltese Terrier Health

The Maltese is a healthy breed and usually will live long. Responsible breeders will always check the breed for health conditions such as heart anomalies, and they will present you with papers.

It is recommended that Maltese puppies be bile-acid tested to rule out congenital liver issues such as liver shunt and microvascular dysplasia (MVD).

There are some reports of incidents of Maltese developing encephalitis (aka as GME).

However, there are still no available tests on this issue so far.

As in all toy breeds, dental health is essential, and Maltese should have their teeth brushed daily with a specially designed dog toothpaste. Of course, regular veterinarian check-ups are mandatory.

Recommended Health Test for Maltese Terrier

  • Cardiac Exam
  • Patella Evaluation

The Bottom Line

This small dog is a mix of Maltese and Terrier parents. This dog is bred by the crossing of a Maltese breed with a terrier of any breed. This breed is easy to coexist with, next to being fun and energetic.

This is an excellent dog for people who love to spend time outdoors, but they don’t mind being indoors as well.

If you are ready to welcome a dog who is active and will demand your attention, then Maltese Terrier just might be for you.

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