Maltese Information


As a toy dog easy to recognize for its prized mantle of long, silky white hair from head to toe, the Maltese is a gentle-mannered and affectionate breed noted as great family companions. With their refinement, convenient portability, and cleanliness, the Maltese has grown in popularity to become the 20th most popular dog breed in the United States by the American Kennel Club. Read on to find a full breed description and determine whether the small, but mighty Maltese is the right match for your lifestyle.

Basic Info
Other NameMaltese Dog
Size Type Small Dog Breeds
Breed Group Toy Dog Breeds
Life Span12 -15 years
TemperamentAffectionate, Gentle, Docile, Active, Playful, Intelligent, Lively
HeightMale: 8-10 in; Female: 8-9 in
WeightMale: 3-8 lb; Female: 2-7 lb
Puppy PriceAverage $600 - $800 USD


Physical description

Body Type

The Maltese is a small, compact, and sturdy fine-boned dog with a slightly longer than tall body and a perfectly level topline. The medium-sized muzzle tapers slightly, the skull is slightly rounded on the top with a moderately defined stop, and the chest is deep. The ears are set low close to the head with a heavily feathered pendant-shaped appearance. While the nose is black with open nostrils, the dogs have large black eyes that are rounded and set moderately apart on the head. Male Maltese typically are between 8 to 10 inches at the shoulder height with a weight ranging from 6 to 9 pounds, but the females are slightly smaller with a height from 8 to 9 inches and weighing between 4 to 7 pounds.


While the trademark for the breed is its pure snow-white coat, the breed standard indicates that a pale ivory tinge is also permitted as acceptable. In some other standards outside of the American Kennel Club, the Maltese is also allowed to have pale orange shades or lemon and brown markings along with the white hair.


Notably lacking an undercoat, the Maltese possesses a long and silky single-layer coat that naturally hangs flat over the sides of the body almost to the ground with a center part line. While the hair is always straight without wavy or curly features, most owners outside of competition prefer to trim the entire coat to one shorter length at least than an inch long. The hair hanging loosely on the top of the head is often tied up into a topknot to clear the eyes.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  Yes


With the very soft and long coat, it is no surprise that the Maltese requires daily combing and brushing to prevent the occurrence of matting in the hair, even though the “hypo-allergenic” dog sheds little to no hair. Since this can be extremely time-consuming on a daily basis, some pet owners are encouraged to clip the hair shorter with professional grooming sessions every four to six weeks. Veterinarians suggest that Maltese should be bathed regularly, but it is essential that owners ensure the dog is thoroughly dry and warm after. In order to prevent staining, the eyes should be cleaned daily and the beard must be cleared after every meal.


Once known as “ye ancient dogge of Malta,” the Maltese has been an aristocrat of the canine world for more than 28 centuries and owned by royalty all over the planet. As in the single most ancient dog of the European toy breeds, writings specifically mentioning the Maltese have been traced back as far as 300 BC in the central Mediterranean Sea region. Generally believed to have derived from the island nation of Malta, the breed was selectively bred for its small size from Spitz-type dogs among the Swiss Lake Dwellers. Considered a delicacy and prized for their small companion-sized stature, the Maltese was sold for up to $2,000 as far back as the early 16th century. Since the dogs were never commonplace, the 1830 painting titled “The Lion Dog from Malta – Last of His Race” indicates that the breed was in danger of extinction.

However, two Maltese were soon after brought home to England by the Crusaders from the Mediterranean as a gift for Queen Victoria and their offspring became the first exhibited in Great Britain. While the small dogs were crossbred with poodles and miniature spaniels, the Maltese was never bred down from larger sizes and has remained the same size throughout its history. After arriving in America under the name of “Maltese Lion Dogs,” the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1888. Since then, the Maltese has slowly increased in popularity and now ranks as one of the more popular toy breeds.


As a spirited, lively, and playful small dog busting with energy, the Maltese is often referred to as being a gentle, trustworthy, loving, devoted, highly intelligent, bold, and graceful breed that remains loyal to its master. Although the Maltese is quickly to sound the alarm when suspicious noises sound and may be a good watchdog, it is a classic friendly companion dog. The dogs do well with children as well as with other canines and non-canine animals in the household. While Small Dog Syndrome may cause the dogs to display behavioral problems of instability, aggressive, overprotection, jealousy, and separation anxiety, these are not normal Maltese traits and can be cured with strong human leadership.

With a deep love for playing outdoors and often jumping in puddles, it is important for the Maltese to receive adequate amounts of exercise with a daily walk. Despite the fact that playtime indoors or outdoors may satisfy needs for exercise, it will not fulfill their primal instincts for walking. In addition to their daily walks and high levels of activity inside the home, the Maltese also enjoys a good romp around in a safe, fenced-in, and open area off leash. Remaining playful well into old age, the Maltese is a good match for apartment living and will thrive without a yard as long as it is given sufficient exercise.

Interesting Maltese Facts

  • Maltese are susceptible to a unique and non-life-threatening condition called “reverse sneezing,” which sounds like a snorting or honking sound that results often from over-excitement, allergies, or intense bouts of playtime.


  • Perhaps the richest Maltese in the world, billionaire New York City real estate investor Leona Helmsley bequeathed a grand total of $12 million to her Maltese named Trouble at the time of her death in 2007.
  • Sometimes nicknamed “the Comforter,” the Maltese has a rich history of being among the families of historical greats, including Mary Queen of Scots, Queen Victoria, Queen Marie Antoinette, Empress Josephine Bonaparte, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis.