Maltese Dog Breed: History, Temperament, Care, Training & more

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Maltese Dog Breed Information

Level of Energy   
Exercise Needs      
Level of Affection    
Climate Tolerance    
Good With Children      
Tolerance of Animals    
Suitable as Guard Dog  

Just The Facts

  • AKC Popularity:  27
  • AKC Breed Group: Toy
  • Size of Male:  4-7 lbs 9-10 in.
  • Size of Female:  4-7 lbs 9-10 in.
  • Color:  White
  • Average Lifespan:  12-15 years
  • Breed Origin:  Malta
  • Purpose:  Companion

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General Description

The Maltese is a popular lap dog. They love to play and run, can be very affectionate, difficult to housebreak, but otherwise surprisingly easy to train due to their natural obedience. They are tolerant of most climates, although damp conditions and very hot climates are not recommended. One of their most notable features is their long, silky white coat.

Origin and History

The Maltese is first mentioned in writings from 300 BC. They were popular in Greek art and have been widely distributed throughout Europe and Asia. This toy dog breed arrived in England in the early 14th century.

In 1877 they began to be shown in the United States as Maltese lion dogs, as their standard clipping looked much like that of lions. Recognized by the AKC in 1888, they are now among the most popular toy dogs in the country.

Maltese Temperament

The Maltese is a mild tempered dog and they make excellent lap dogs. They also enjoy exercise and activity and they love to play. Considering their size, these little dogs are remarkably bold and may challenge large dogs. Although they can be reserved around strangers, they are known to bark frequently.

Fiercely loyal and protective of their family, this little dog loves it when they are held and pampered. Other household pets tend not to be a problem, but children who do not behave well or who do not treat them nicely could be surprised with a bite.

Care, Grooming, Diet & Exercise

Living Environment – Given their small size and obedient nature, they can do well in most living environments. Regular exercise is necessary, but these dogs are well suited even for apartment or city environments.

Grooming – The Maltese is a fairly high maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. Bi-monthly clipping and daily brushing are a must. The hair around their bottom must be kept trimmed, and eyes and ears should always be cleaned to prevent infection. Because they shed little to no hair, they are considered to be hypoallergenic dogs and are suitable for those who suffer with allergies.

Diet & Exercise – Maltese dogs are considerably low maintenance when it comes to exercise, which helps make them well suited for apartment life. Many can be content with vigorous indoor play, though a walk or a romp in the yard is always appreciated. This dog breed tends to be very social, making dog parks an excellent exercise destination.

Health – With a life expectance of 12 to 15 years, these small dogs tend to be generally healthy. The healthiest dogs can live well beyond 15 years, although they are prone to the following dog health problems: deafness, glaucoma, low blood sugar, thyroid problems, dental problems, entropion and sensitivity to drugs. Parents should have CERF and OFA certificates.


Dog training is reasonably easy with Maltese dogs because of their obedient nature and a desire to please their owners. Housebreaking can be difficult, however, and crate training is recommended.

Ideally, they should be socialized early and trained without harsh methods (like all dogs). Even tempered consistency in training is the key. These little dogs are also quite good at learning dog tricks.