Believed to originate in the Mediterranean over 2000 years ago, Maltese are friendly, intelligent, sweet tempered and loyal, and have long been popular with Aussies. They’re commonly bred with other toy breeds including poodles, shih tzus, terriers, bichon and pugs, amongst others.
While affectionate, Maltese are generally better suited to adult households than families with small children - being delicately framed, they do not like rough handling or play. They do not require a lot of exercise, though they do love plenty of human interaction and will happily follow their owners about, making them great apartment pets (they are very popular in retirement homes that allow canines.) While they love to be pampered and petted by their owners, it is important to set clear boundaries with a Maltese as they are a strong-willed breed and some can develop behavioural issues.
Weighing in at a tiny two to three kilograms and measuring 25cms or shorter from the shoulder, Maltese are easily recognised for their silky white coat, shiny black nose and deep brown eyes. Being a long-haired breed, Maltese are considered higher maintenance as they require daily brushing unless clipped (which will need to be done regularly.) Neglecting their grooming can lead to ill health and great discomfort as their hair tangles easily and can pull at their skin, causing irritation or even restricting their movement. If their hair is left to fall or grow over their eyes, it can create skin issues with constant tearing leading to dermatitis, or could even damage the eyes themselves.
Maltese health and care
Grooming requirements aside, they are prone to gingivitis – gum disease, so they benefit from regular attention to dental hygiene, including ensuring they have foods/chews in their diets which can help to maintain healthy teeth and gums. In terms of congenital conditions, Maltese and Maltese cross breeds may be prone to luxating patellas (loose kneecaps), which can in turn lead to osteoarthritis and may even require surgery in more advanced cases. Your vet should check these joints and as a matter of routine and will be able to help you devise a management plan if there are any signs of luxating patellae.
Being a toy breed, they don’t need lengthy or vigorous exercise – a short daily walk will suit. That said, being intelligent dogs, they will need plenty of mental stimulation or they can become bored and destructive. A daily session of training or game playing should suffice in most cases.
In short (pun intended), if you’re looking for a lap dog who loves to spend time with you, the Maltese or one of its many cross breed counterparts offers a feisty pint-sized package with a lot of love to give.
Please note, this information is general in nature and will naturally vary between each individual dog.
- Height: 25cm
- Weight: 3-4 kg
- Lifespan: 13-15 years
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