Also known as: Maltese terrier, Maltese lion dog
  • Maltese
  • Maltese

General description

The Maltese is a great guardian and a breed that prefers apartment life. This type of dog bonds with the family and is very friendly with children. It doesn't tolerate cold temperatures however it maintains an average health level throughout its life. A Maltese will require fairly ongoing coat care and special care in relation to its level of cleanliness. This is a very loyal breed with a decent inclination to bark and howl. Malteses have average energy levels and don't display great strength. Maintenance costs are within an ideal average.

Maltese in short

Aspect and attributes

Characteristics accepts by FCI:

  • Colors: white
  • Hair: thick, long
  • Coats: solid

Being a good domestic pet, the Maltese is equipped with a small size that is suitable for any context. This breed's body type is typical because of the relatively longer torso which combines with rather short and not so muscular legs. The muzzle of a Maltese is quite elongated but disproportioned in comparison to the head which is actually quite substantial in size and rounded in shape.

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Costs and maintenance

It is immediately clear that health and appearance of the coat of a Maltese are the major economic engagement to maintain this breed. Depending on the choice of keeping a long coat or preferring it short, the outcome in cost will be different. Otherwise, there are no specific instructions or overly high expenses. Regular health checkups should never be skipped, especially after your Maltese turns 3-4 years old and its diet must be absolutely balanced.

Maintenance cost within average

Characteristics Summary


Suitability to apartment life

There is never a doubt in regards to a Maltese's suitability for apartment life. This is a perfect companion dog running for a spot as the ultimate house host in any environment. A Maltese won't require large spaces thanks to its fairly small size as well as the sense of responsibility it is capable of developing in these environments. In order to facilitate adjustment, special attention is recommended during training in order to contain behaviors that can be undesirable.

Maximum suitability for apartment life

Tolerance for solitude

A companion dog such as the Maltese is accustomed to a certain lifestyle both in and out of the household environment. This is not a breed capable of enjoying a relaxed daily routine in solitude. Leaving a Maltese on its own means freeing it from responsibility and allowing it leeway especially in the house, but most of all it means forcing your pet to live in solitude causing it to develop behavioral issues that could cause unwanted consequences such as separation anxiety.

Very low tolerance for solitude

Suitable as first pet

The Maltese is probably the best choice when learning how to improve the approach towards a dog or the different upbringing training techniques. Maltese owners will always need to monitor those aspects that should contribute to an adequate upbringing of their pet however, as it regards the ability to adapt to a certain lifestyle without many complex situations that could become an obstacle to a dog's normal growth this breed reaches levels that are hard to find in other types of dog.

Great suitability as first pet


This breed has a very strong and tolerant temperament. The Maltese is able of interpreting without issues all the commands coming from a firm owner during the training phase. The breed is not affected by any relevant trauma in this regard and is capable of withstanding fairly chaotic environments or very young and loud children. This kind of behavior can be handy in fairly busy environments attended by other people and other pets.

High level of tolerance

Tolerance for cold temperatures

As it regards the physical aspect, there are very little chances that a Maltese will be up for carrying a sled in the Northern Pole. Due to a rather limited size and muscularity as well as a minimum level of tolerance when exposed to fairly low temperatures. This is definitely not a Maltese's environment. And, it is no surprise that this type of dog will prefer being in the house rather than outdoors during the harsher times of year. This feature will require further efforts when it is time for the daily walk.

Minimum tolerance for cold temperatures

Tolerance for high temperatures

When exposed to rather warm temperatures in climates dominated by humidity, the Maltese will display an ideal average of tolerance. This type of dog is not an athlete that tends to persevere even when things become "serious" during the hottest hours of the day however it can withstand this type of climate with commendable dignity. Nevertheless, it is essential that the owner monitors the pet during certain circumstances allowing it to access resources such as food and water in the more extreme times of the day.

Moderately tolerant to hot climates

Friendliness and sociability

Affection towards family

The Maltese was basically bred for this very reason. Being of company for the family whilst proving to be quite independent from it. This last aspect can however be the outcome of a certain resilience to this kind of emotion. There is a reason why this breed is often used during pet therapy sessions in different contexts. The Maltese tends to choose a certain approach to the owner and family members that is also made of interaction and games which is when the breed can display its softest side.

Absolute affection towards the family

Friendly towards children

In relation to the ability of a Maltese to express an inclination to interact with children in a friendly manner, we must clarify two sides of the coin: a brighter one, defined by daily interaction and great displays of affection towards kids, and a "darker" one which relates to the risk ran by the dog while playing with extremely young children who can cause injuries or various trauma sometimes quite dangerous to a Maltese's wellbeing.

Moderately friendly with children

Relationship with strangers

As a good pet, the Maltese is capable of displaying all of its talent in activities like guarding and perimeter check. In this respect, a Maltese's actions are targeted to assessing the presence or proximity of strangers around the house or of other animals in houses with a backyard. This kind of inclination is very useful under certain circumstances, such as with elderly people living alone. On the other hand, when this type of breed is taken into public places is capable of calmly interacting even though displaying a little apathy towards strangers.

Low level of tolerance towards strangers

Friendliness towards other dogs

Beyond suspicion, this is a guardian capable of developing a really good relationship with other dogs. The Maltese gets this disposition from the ability to quickly learn the rules of cohabitation when socialized early on. Amongst pets raised in this way, the Maltese is one of those the can best understand this particular kind of interaction. Nevertheless, the contexts should always be monitored depending on who they involve. The presence of a fairly excited dog could be unhealthy for your Maltese.

Very friendly towards other dogs

Care and health

Coat care and shedding

Depending on how we intend grooming of a Maltese's coat whether to let it grow or limit it, we can then understand the tendency of this breed to shed or not. The fur is generally quite resistant however it tends to lose texture while the Maltese grows. This trait weakens the coat and makes it more subject to shedding, especially at home. Owners will therefore need to regularly care for their pet's fur and refer to an expert professional with no improvised solution.

High level of moulting

Salivation and drooling restraint level

Salivation in a Maltese is very contained. This type of dog is capable of restraining drool and it doesn't display any relevant episodes other than the periodic ones. As many other breeds, the Maltese will also tend to develop excess drooling during key moments of the day such as when approaching meal time and during especially exciting situations. A combination of events that is however quite limited in amount and frequency.

Great drooling restraint

Easiness to clean

The Maltese is a breed that tends to prefer life indoors or in less wild environments. An advantage that translates in a greater ease of cleanliness. A feature that shouldn't however allow the owner to relax in this respect. A clean Maltese is a dog that will be inspected during the key moments of the day, like after a meal around the mouth area, and after a daily walk around the tail area. This is when a white coat is not very helpful.

Strong requirement for cleanliness

Health and diseases

A small-sized breed yet with rather good health conditions throughout its life. The Maltese is capable of maintain a good level of health however it must always be regularly checked by an experienced veterinarian. Starting very young, a Maltese can develop issues affecting the bone structure or retinal diseases. As years go by, this type of dog will require more consistent checkups as it can display problems such as tremors. This condition can even begin quite early on.

Average level of health and standard illnesses

Tendency to gain weight

This particular aspect is defined by a certain balance in a Maltese. This type of dog doesn't display particular inclination in this regard, however it can quickly gain weight if enabled to entertain an overly inactive lifestyle and follow an inadequate diet. The benefit in this respect is that the Maltese is not used to this kind of lifestyle and, on the contrary it is always motivated to move and interact. A reason why there shouldn't be any issues in this regard.

Average tendency to gain weight

Learning skills

Intelligence and training

What defines a Maltese in this sense is the great curiosity that the breed is capable of developing. Its inclination is to engage in a combination of activities and interactions of various nature. This aspect applies to all breeds and enables an efficient development of intelligence because it allows the dog to learn specific kinds of interaction that can become useful in certain contexts. This is one of the more pleasant aspects of a Maltese.

High level of intelligence displayed during training

Loyalty and inclination to escape

The Maltese is a very loyal breed that also returns displays of affection through a strong bond with the owner and other family members. There are extreme cases of dogs that will engage in escapes however these are very often pets that were inadequately trained or raised without the required care to avoid these type of events. There are no issues in relation to this aspect. The Maltese is a breed that doesn't tend to escape or engage in similar actions.

Average inclination to escape

Inclination to bite

Each breed has a certain disposition in this regard depending on the context and the players. Then there are those individuals that tend to systematically respond with a bite or a more aggressive behavior and those that instead will be more shy in this regard. The difference is always in the level of socialization that a dog can develop during its upbringing. This can have an impact and contribute in avoiding issues in this regard. The Maltese doesn't display aggressiveness and tends to resort to biting only during a playful interaction or as a self-defense tool.

Self-control and tendency to nip within average

Hunt drive

In this regard, curiosity is stronger than physical strength or sense of smell, or even a healthy habit of engaging in this type of activity. The Maltese is not a hunter but a very curious breed that enjoys interacting with smaller animals. In this sense, it can almost be considered a cat due to its fascination with small-sized birds. Owners should however pay attention because the Maltese often tends to turn from hunter into prey for those animals that are much bigger than it, such as raptors.

Average hunting drive

Inclination to bark or howl

A pet companion that enjoys domestic lifestyle and has a rather talented inclination for roles such as guardian of the house can only be a breed with a tendency to bark quite constantly. The Maltese is no exception in this sense and a way of assessing the owner's skill in training this breed is to limit this kind of behavior which can sometime develop in surplus and become annoying, especially in relation to life in a condo environment.

High tendency to bark or howl

Exercise requirements

Energy level

In relation to the size and physical features of the Maltese, we can consider the breed's level of energy as perfectly within average as many other dogs. The physical build doesn't allow for miracles in this sense and this feature can even become a positive note under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, especially in domestic environments the owner's close monitoring can be useful during activities that can represent a threat to certain objects in the house or to the Maltese's safety.

Energy levels within average


As for the energy levels, the strength of the Maltese is also within average in comparison to other similar-sized breeds. The combination of these two features can be an issue but very limited in many regards. In order to assess the need for extensions such as a leash or targeted control during interaction it is important to find the right technique to refrain your Maltese during training. Nevertheless, we are referring to a breed that doesn't cause many issues in this regard.

Tameness and strength within average

Exercise requirements

Daily activity must be a staple for a dog, regardless of its size or inclination. The requirement of exercise for a Maltese, as for many other breeds is a matter that affects the dog's health which can facilitate an adequate maintenance of it from a physical and mental point of view. Daily walks should be used to improve these features and keep the Maltese's curiosity and intelligence alert. Without exaggerating.

Average need for exercise

Tendency to play

A Maltese's tendency to play is directly related to the great curiosity that this breed triggers in people interacting with it. This is an advantage for this type of dog which finds its wishes of interacting and having fun with the owner and family fulfilled as they find themselves living with a new family member with a disposition to display great intelligence during any playful activity. This particular feature will make your children really happy.

Strong inclination to play

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