The words Dog Breed Info with the letter D inside of a black paw print

The Purebred Maltese

Information and Pictures

A pure white small dog with a long solf silky coat, round dark eyes and a dark nose laying down next to a stuffed toy

Lolly the Maltese at two years old—"Lolly is very well tempered and extremely loving. She loves to play with her toys with her favorites being a stuffed reindeer and any type of small football she can “throw” down the stairs and chase. She loves to go for walks, especially in cooler weather. We prefer to keep her coat long even though it requires quite a bit of time to maintain and a weekly trip to the groomer. She is excellent with small children and new people as well as with new “four legged friends”. She weighs about 5.5 pounds and is very healthy. While not a picky eater, she does go through periods where she doesn’t eat as often as others. She is very smart and while not an excessive barker she is very consistent in letting us know when someone is pulling into the driveway or coming in the house. We feel that Lolly is a very balanced canine and an excellent example of the breed as she is well behaved while at the same time having an abundant spirit and an exceptional personality."

Other Names
  • Maltese Lion dog



The Maltese is a small, hardy dog with silky hair. The body is compact, fine-boned, but sturdy and slightly longer than it is tall with a level topline. The chest is deep. The skull is slightly rounded on the top with a moderate stop. The medium length muzzle tapers, but not to a point. The pendant, low-set ears are set close to the head and heavily feathered. The black eyes are large, round and set moderately apart with dark rims. The nose is black with open nostrils. The dog has a silky, single layer coat that is white or light ivory. When kept long and groomed like a show dog, it hangs flat, long over the sides of the body almost to the ground (about 8½ inches (22 cm)), hanging on each side of a center part line and is not wavy, curly or kinky. A lot of owners choose to cut the coat into a short, easy-care puppy cut.


The Maltese is spirited, lively and playful. Gentle, loving, trusting and devoted to its master. Highly intelligent. Good at learning tricks. Bold and quick to sound the alarm in case of suspicious noises. It is a classic companion dog: graceful and lovable. It does well with other non-canine animals and other dogs. Maltese love to play outdoors. Some like to jump in puddles. May be difficult to housebreak. If you feed them table scraps, they can become picky eaters. Do not allow these dogs to develop Small Dog Syndrome, human induced behaviors where the dog believes he is pack leader to humans. This causes a varying degree of behavior problems. If the dog believes he is boss, he can be snappish with children and even adults. Do not over-pamper or overprotect these little dogs, for they will become unstable, and some may become jealous of visitors. Maltese that are allowed to take over the house, being boss of the humans, can also develop separation anxiety, guarding and obsessive barking. These are not Maltese traits, but rather behaviors brought on by the way the dog is treated by the people around it. These behaviors will go away when the dog is surrounded by stable pack leaders.

Height, Weight

Height: Males 8 - 10 inches (21 - 25 cm) Females 8 - 9 inches (20 - 23 cm)
Weight: 6½ - 9 pounds (3 - 4 kg)

Health Problems

Prone to sunburn along the hair parting, skin, eye issues, respiratory, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.

Living Conditions

The Maltese is a good dog for apartment life. They are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard.


Maltese need a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of their exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill their primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. They will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard. They remain playful well into old age. They are very active indoors.

Life Expectancy

About 12 - 15 or more years. It may live as long as 18, but it is important to keep it out of the damp.

Litter Size

About 3 to 5 puppies


Daily combing and brushing of the long coat is important but be gentle, as the coat is very soft. Clean the eyes daily to prevent staining, and clean the beard after meals for the same reason. Bathe or dry shampoo regularly, making sure the animal is thoroughly dry and warm afterward. Clean the ears, and pull out hair growing inside the ear canal. The eyes should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. The hair on the top of the head is often tied up in a topknot to keep it away from the eyes. Some pet owners opt to clip the hair short for easier and less time-consuming grooming. The Maltese sheds little to no hair and is good for allergy sufferers.


The Maltese was developed in Italy. It is said to have miniature spaniel and Poodle blood. The Maltese was first recognized as a breed in Malta, where it received its name. It was once known as "Ye ancient dogge of Malta." The breed was owned by royalty all over the world. Women carried them around in their sleeves and slept with them in their beds. They were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The Maltese was first recognized by the AKC in 1888.


Gun Dog, AKC Toy

  • ACA = American Canine Association Inc.
  • ACR = American Canine Registry
  • AKC = American Kennel Club
  • ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
  • APRI = American Pet Registry, Inc.
  • CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
  • CKC = Continental Kennel Club
  • DRA = Dog Registry of America, Inc.
  • FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
  • KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • NAPR = North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • NKC = National Kennel Club
  • NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club
  • UKC = United Kennel Club
Close up head shot - A long haired white dog with large round black eyes and a black nose. Its hair is pulled up in a bow in a top knot.

An adult show quality Maltese dog—Photo courtesy of David Hancock

Close up head shot of a small white fluffy long haired dog with a black nose, dark round eyes, black lips and a green ribbon clipped to its forehead.

"This is Maggie, my one year old Maltese. She is very intelligent, and walks on her hind legs quite often. She also knows that when it's time for bed, it's also time for her bone. She is such a joy and we have learned so much through this website about training her."

A shaggy, tan and white Maltese is standing on a blacktop and looking forward. Its mouth is open and tongue is out.

Latte the light ivory purebred Maltese at 3 years old

A furry, white Maltese is standing on a concrete surface, in front of a large, orange and white ceramic water bowl that looks larger than the dog. The dog's tongue is showing and it looks happy.

Jellybean the Maltese at 12 years old drinking from the big orange bowl

A soft, furry white Maltese is in the drivers seat of a car jumped up with its front paws on the wheel while sitting on a person's lap who is wearing blue jeans. It is looking towards the passengers seat.

"Maltese named Prince, better known as NutPup, at 3 years old—"Keep your eyes on the road, NutPup.""

Two white Maltese are standing on a carpet looking up and to the right.

Lilly and Gracie the adult Maltese

View from the top looking down - A white Maltese is standing on a tan tiled floor looking up.

Nemo the Maltese at 1 year old—"His puppy dog face can win over anyone's heart!"

Two white dogs on a blue carpet, an adult wearing a baby blue shirt and a small puppy that is jumped up with its front paw on the older dog.

Five-week-old male Maltese puppy with his two-year-old mommy

A fluffed out looking white Maltese puppy is standing at the top of a brick staircase looking down the stairs.

Lilly the Maltese puppy at 4 months old—"Lilly is a registered Maltese originally from Abbeville, GA. Lilly lives in an apartment in Knoxville and is owned and loved by a full-time college student at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. In these pictures she is about 4 months old. She is very happy in the apartment lifestyle, but loves to run and play in open, grassy areas when she can. She is very alert in the home and will "sound the alarm" if she hears anything. She loves to play with her canine roommates until they are exhausted and flop down beside each other. Lilly fulfills the void of a family for a college student and is very loving and dedicated. She loves to chew, so plenty of pencil-size rawhide chewies are essential."

A white Maltese is laying on a human's bed that is covred in a red and gold blanket with white sheets. The dog has its front paws on a red Apple MacBook Pro and it is looking at the screen.

Lilly the Maltese—"Her momma, a student at college, was "Skyping" home when she needed to step away for a couple of minutes. When she returned to the Skype session, Lilly had taken over and was talking to her grandparents who she lived with over the summer!"

See more examples of the Maltese