Maltese: Dog Breed Profile


The Maltese is a small dog, calm and very intelligent who has a narrow and long trunk, small in size with a long silky white coat. It’s a very elegant little dog with a proud and distinguished head carriage.

The Bichon Maltais is an adorable companion dog, with a very fine coat that should be taken care of with the greatest delicacy. The maintenance of this canine is special. For the rest, Its education and Its diet are rather easy.

It’s a very pleasant dog to live with, attached to Its master, to children, and who loves cuddles. It’s lively and alert and possesses robust health.

Other names: Bichon Maltais, Maltese

History of the breed

The Maltese breed is very old and dates back to Antiquity. The famous Aristotle (384-322 BC) referred to a breed of small dogs that he called ” canes melitenses ” in his nomenclature of dogs existing at the time.

Its name could derive from the Phoenician “màlat” which means “refuge” or “port”, and whose semantic root is found in the Sicilian city of Melita. Indeed, the ancestors of these small dogs then lived on the periphery of the Central Mediterranean in the ports and on the ships, where they hunted the rats and mice which infested the port stores and the holds of the boats.

Physical features

  • Its coat: silky texture, without waviness, dense, shiny, and very long. It easily reaches 8 inches in length and can exceed the height of the withers.
  • Its color: pure white but it can sometimes pull on pale ivory.
  • Its head: rather large with a flat skull.
  • Its ears: triangular in shape and drooping. They are located high on the skull and well provided with hair.
  • Its eyes: small, rounded, and very dark.
  • Its body: has a narrow and long trunk, a little over 8 inches at the withers. The limbs are muscular with a robust bone structure.
  • Its tail: short and drooping.

Behavior With Others

The Maltese is a rather gentle dog and very adaptable. But like all dogs, good habits will need to be learned from the start. Many owners let themselves be overwhelmed by their Bichon Maltais quite simply because its small size does not make it “compulsory” to establish rules of life.

However, like all dogs, your Maltese will have to learn to manage Its frustration and Its need for spending will have to be met otherwise Its character may prove to be difficult.

The Maltese can be prone to excessive barking if it is not spent enough, if it suffers from separation anxiety or if the rules of life are not clear.

The Maltese can get along very well with children as long as they are respected and have the possibility of going in their basket to be quiet when they need it.

It can live with other animals but for this to happen, it will have to be positively and regularly socialized before its 3 months.


The Maltese must be educated as early as possible so that it cannot adopt bad habits: climbing on armchairs, being capricious, being a pot of glue. It loves cuddles more than anything and will not hesitate to climb onto Its master’s knees even without inviting It to do so.

In fact, it’s important to make this canine understand that these moments of caress are decided by Its master or Its adoptive family.

For the rest, It does not present any difficulty in education.

Living Conditions

The Maltese is a companion dog, its need for exercise is logically less important than a so-called “working” dog. However, a dog remains a dog, so it will be necessary to walk your Bichon Maltais every day for at least 30 minutes, even if you have a garden.

It can easily adapt to living in an apartment. Its small size and Its need for moderate expenditure make It a very adaptable dog.

Wearing a coat should be expected during winter and cooling strategies should be implemented during summer. The small body of the Bichon Maltese is sensitive to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.

Health & Maintenance

Despite what its small size might suggest, the Bichon Maltais is a robust dog who very rarely gets sick. It can very occasionally develop a few problems such as eye infections or suffer from weakened teeth and gums.

Finally, It can also dislocate a kneecap. In addition, it does not like humidity and cold. It’s important to be careful during winter so that he does not catch a cold.

Among the genetic diseases of the Maltese, the breed is likely to be affected by:

  •  heart problems s such as patent ductus arteriosus and MVD
  •  diseases of the digestive sphere such as portosystemic shunt or pyloric stenosis which exposes it to chronic vomiting
  •  musculoskeletal disorders such as hernias or abnormality hindlimb called varus
  • various neurological conditions

The life expectancy of a Bichon Maltese is, on average, between 12 years and 15 years.

The Bichon Maltese’s fur is long and silky, so it requires careful and daily care. As it can exceed in length and height of the withers, it needs to be brushed every day with a suitable brush to untangle all knots.

This small dog is also subject to an annual moult which should be accompanied by a suitable diet, rich in vegetable fibers. To avoid infections, it’s also necessary to thoroughly cleanse the secretions that embarrass Its eyes, once a week.

Good hygiene prevents all infections that could complicate the life of the  Maltese. For this, it is recommended to show special attention to Its eyes, ears, and teeth.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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