The Maltese
The Gentle Little Lap Dog

descriptive textDog breed info
Bichon Maltiase
Weight: 4 — 6 lbs
Height: 9” — 10”
AKC Rank 2008 #20
Lifespan: 14—16 yrs
Group Toy
Origin Malta

Dog Breed Info -- The Maltese

An adopted dog, Meltese-Toy Poodle mix gives a HIGH FIVEdescriptive text

Breed Overview

The original function of this breed was to be a lap dog in ancient times. His function today is simply a companion dog.

The dog is the most ancient of the European toy breeds. The island of Malta was an early trading port, visited by Phoenician sailors by 1500 b.c.

In America, the first of this breed were shown as Lion Dogs around 1877. The name “Lion Dog” came from dog lovers , particularly those in the Orient, because they clipped the dogs to look like little lions. The AKC recognized the breed in 1888.


Can be trained but takes a little doing. Be patient. He’ll catch on in time. Use clicker training for excellent results.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your dog? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Maltese puppy
wondering what it's all about!

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Potty Training

Maltese puppies can sometimes be stubborn and be difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


This is a gentle lap dog. While it can be gentle, this pup also has a wild side, and they love to romp and play. Despite his looks, he is a feisty character. He can be reserved with strangers. Some Meltese bark a lot and will challenge just about everything in their state of separation anxiety.

If you happen to get a Maltese with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

So so with dogs. Picks his own friends. Likes some, not others.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Can get along with other pets to a degree. Best if raised with them.

Friendly Toward Strangers?

No. Leave the relatives home


Very playful little guy. Ideal for a senior.


Pretty affectionate. A real lap dog.

Good with children

NO> This dog is not for kids.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Maltese dogs are excellent for seniors. Light weight, low exercise needs, easy to handle, desires lots of attention, is very loyal. The little Maltese is essentially a quiet lap dog. Look for a Maltese rescue for possibly an older dog for the match.

Living environment

House with a small fenced yard, farm, big city OK. Indoor dog only.

This dog is a little too yappy and barky for apartment life.

Energy level

High energy dog.


Exercise needs, daily

Low exercise requirements.
Exercise needs are easily met with indoor games or an outdoor romp plus a short walk on leash is okay for this dog. Maltese are easy to care for.


Excellent. A bit yappy, but he gets the barker going just fine. No one gets past this fellow.

Guard dog

No. Too small to be effective.


Very little.

Maltese Dog Grooming

Regular trips to groomer if you leave him long as a show dog.
Suggest trimming the Maltese like a regular dog if not for show. If that's the case, brush him twice a week and he’s good to go.

A bath now and then is needed as this white dog is difficult to keep clean in some geographic areas.

This is "Disco" - a 4 year old male Maltipoo
(Maltese and Poodle) - - found in a
church parking lot and adopted by Katie and her husband. Thanks for the photo, Katie.



Suggested Reading - The Maltese
Click on cover photos for more information about each book.

  • Book on the left is an Owners Guide to the Maltese.

  • 2nd book from the left is "101 Dog Tricks" and the name says it all. There's something for every dog to stimulate his brain and give him new things to challenge his abilities.

  • 3rd book from the left is "50 Games To play With Your Dog." These are simple to teach and play and will keep your dog active and thinking creatively.

  • Book on far right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. Vol 2, 20085 and comes with a DVD.

Also, please visit our recently added Dog Book and DVD Store


Below is the 8 year old Marley, a female Maltese from the States enjoying life with her human mommy and daddy and Disco, above. Photo sent in by Katie, her mom.
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NOTE: Before you try the Breeders and Rescues sections below, check out these three links for your Maltese Rescue and Breeders.

This is a family run site by Maltese owners that's very informative. Check out
Maltese dog breeders
for more information.

Discover how to get Maltese Rescue You can learn a lot here.

Information about finding the best Maltese Dog Rescue and Free Puppies.


Maltese Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Maltese puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Maltese Breeders with puppies for sale. You can also surf the web and check your local newspapers for breeders.

Maltese Dog Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Maltese and are looking for a Maltese rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Dog Dog Rescue - (Nationwide)
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site that may give you some ideas. There are lots of Maltese dog rescue groups. Surf the web, check local newspapers and look for SPCA and other kennels.

Dog Health Issues For The Maltese
Below: The dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Maltese by various vets.

Maltese dogs are basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Hind leg limping or raised. Patellar luxation—An unusually shallow spot on the femur and weak ligaments or misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint. This allows the knee cap (patella) to float in and out of position. It can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your Maltese has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Pyloric stenosis—Hereditary. A narrowing of the opening into the small intestine. The dog will vomit food and water after eating. Usually seen in puppies. Generally a problem for the breeder. Found in most often in Boxers, Boston Terriers.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • White shaker disease—A problem found in small white dogs. The affected dog’s head and body actually “shakes” - sometimes mildly and in other dogs, a lot. Commonly found in the Maltese, Poodle and Westie. The shaking can incapacitate the dog, cause her paws to land where she didn’t intend, cause rapid eye movement. Cause is unknown. Medication is given to relax the dog which helps. Tremors are reduced when the dog relaxes or sleeps. A vet must be seen for this rare disorder.

  • Open fontanel—Hereditary. The Skull bones don’t close completely at birth leaving an opening on top of the skull. This condition is often associated with hydrocephalus which is too much liquid around the brain causing pressure and swelling. Increased pressure can prevent brain tissue development and there will always be a “soft spot” on the skull.

  • Hypoglycemia—The brain must have sugar to function, but has little space to “store” the glucose/sugar hormone. Small dogs and Toy breeds as well as puppies, are especially prone to hypoglycemia because they are already small and have no space to store glucose so any dip in the level is a big problem. Abnormally low blood glucose, or sugar, causing lethargy, weakness, lack of coordination, SEIZURES, loss of nerve control and the Maltese may even become unconscious in severe occurrences. The solution is small and frequent meals each day and a few treats tossed in.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Hydrocephalus—An excess of spinal fluid built up in the brain caused by an obstruction in the fluid pathway. Congenital Hydrocephalus is most common and occurs shortly after birth. A number of things can cause it. Adult dogs can get it from tumors or infections in the brain. Some neurological signs are seizures, loss of coordination, unusual behavior, walking in circles, and blindness. Doctors have various tests to detect this disorder so don’t fool with it if you suspect something is wrong.

  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal.

  • Glaucoma - Painful pressure builds in the eye causing blindness.

  • Valvular heart disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. See vet immediately for treatment program!

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Dental problems.

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The Maltese may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Portacaval shunt—Hereditary in origin, neurological and other serious problems are caused by a tiny embryonic blood vessel that exists within the liver before birth to disintegrate after birth allowing fluids to flow where they shouldn’t. Symptoms include central nervous system disorders and undersized, underweight puppies are also suspect. Medical and surgical remedies are in place. If a puppy survives surgery, there is a chance for it to live a good life.

Other health problems could occur in your Maltese. If you notice anything unusual with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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