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Is a Maltese the Right Dog for You?
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Is a Maltese the Right Dog for You?

Jack, Critter Culture Staff
Updated Sep 18, 2020

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Maltese dogs are energetic, adorable, and tiny. It's no wonder they're one of the most popular types of purebred dogs around, and they have been for a very long time. Artifacts indicate that ancient Egyptians worshiped this breed as long ago as 600 BCE, and ancient Romans also adored the companionship of the Maltese.

Today, the Maltese dog continues to hold a special place in the hearts of people around the world. But is this the right breed for you?

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1

What kind of personality do Maltese dogs have?

Show maltese long fur Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Maltese dogs are adaptable, alert, and friendly. Despite their elegant appearance, they are enthusiastic little athletes that can race through an agility course with ease. They live long, with an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. Maltese can be stubborn but respond well to training and positive reinforcement. The affectionate and loving Maltese loves to nap on its owner's lap, making them a great couch companion and night-time snuggler.

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2

Are Maltese dogs trainable?

Maltese dog playing and chasing an unrecognizable woman miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

Maltese dogs learn fast and love to make their owners happy. They can learn basic commands, like sit and stay, and can perform all kinds of fun tricks, too.

Toy breeds like the Maltese can be harder than usual to housetrain. A house simply seems bigger to a Maltese than it does to a larger dog, so peeing in a far corner seems far enough away from their main living space. The good news is you can housebreak a Maltese with consistent training.

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3

Can people with allergies own a Maltese?

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Maltese dogs don’t shed as much as some other breeds and produce less dander, making them hypoallergenic. Even so, they do shed some potentially allergy-triggering dander. If someone in your household has a dog allergy, bathe and brush your dog to reduce the amount of dander that gets loose around the house. It’s also a good idea to keep the dog’s hair cut short, which is a style that’s usually called a puppy cut.

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4

Do Maltese dogs have special dietary needs?

Maltese dog sniffing food bowls humonia / Getty Images

Compared to larger dogs, Maltese pooches need more calories per pound of body weight, but their stomachs are smaller than big dogs. That means you should feed a Maltese food that has more calories per bite, with a higher concentration of protein and fat than food for big dogs.

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5

Grooming a Maltese dog

Male Caucasian ethnicity pet groomer taking care of a dog in his Pet grooming salon. SrdjanPav / Getty Images

Maltese dogs need to have their glorious white fur combed and brushed gently every day to keep it from getting matted. Regular bathing helps keep their coat looking its best. Like other floppy-eared dogs, Maltese tend to get ear infections, so check their ears and clean them weekly. Their small mouths tend to have crowded teeth that are vulnerable to tooth decay. You should brush your Maltese dog’s teeth at least once a week with a soft toothbrush and toothpaste for dogs.

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6

Breed-specific health concerns for Maltese

Maltese dog on exam table skynesher / Getty Images

While Maltese are generally healthy, there are a few concerns for this breed. A rare but breed-specific problem is a collapsed windpipe. Prevent it by walking your Maltese on a harness rather than using a collar.

Congestive heart failure is another concern for this breed. Make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight and gets enough exercise to help prevent it.

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7

Who makes a good Maltese dog owner?

Maltese dog lounging in bed miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

Even though the average Maltese weighs in at only 4 to 6 pounds, they make great watchdogs because they're alert and love to bark. However, their barking may be a problem for apartment dwellers. On the flip side, because they can get all the exercise they need in a small space, Maltese dogs make great apartment pets.

Very young children and Maltese dogs don't go well together because Maltese are so small and fragile. Wait until children are old enough to handle the dog gently before leaving them alone together.

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8

Are all Maltese dogs white?

maltese with long hair and bow Voltgroup / Getty Images

The first registered Maltese in the U.S. was white with black ears. Today, the breed standard from the American Maltese Association calls for a pure white, silky coat of long hair. Some pups might have yellow or light brown on their ears that fades as they mature. Maltese dogs have eyes that are dark and round and ears that lay close to the head, framing the face with that gorgeous, silky hair.

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9

Do Maltese dogs need exercise?

maltese dog short hair running Consu1961 / Getty Images

Maltese need exercise, but you can meet all of your pet’s exercise needs indoors with this small breed.

Exercise not only helps keep your dog healthy, but it also prevents them from getting bored, which can lead to problem behavior like barking too much or chewing on things they shouldn’t chew.

Maltese dogs love hunting for pieces of food that you hide around the house, and they’ll also play fetch. The most important thing is to avoid rough play that could hurt the dog or teach them to bite.

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10

What are some mistakes Maltese owners make?

woman smiling next to maltese shih-wei / Getty Images

One of the main things to keep in mind about Maltese dogs is that they are super smart and trainable. They will learn something new after just one time, so you need to make sure you don't reward a behavior you don't want them to do again.

That's seriously important to remember when they're still puppies. Sure, their puppy chewing might not cause much damage, but if you let them get away with it, it will be crazy hard to get them to stop that bad behavior when they're adults.

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