Information on Maltese Dogs & Their Attitudes

By Elizabeth Jennings
Owned by royalty around the world for more than 2,800 years, Maltese dogs were first recognized in Malta, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). As a long-prized and elite breed of dog, they sold for the equivalent of $2,000 or more in the 1500s. Unlike other AKC-recognized toy dogs, they were not bred from large dogs and then sized down; Malteseses have been tiny for thousands of years.

Size and Body Features

Breed standard American Kennel Club Maltese dogs are less than 7 lbs., though AKC prefers dogs between 4 and 6 lbs. They stand around 8 to 10 inches tall and live for 15 to 18 years if in good health. According to the Dog Breed Information Center, their bodies are compact, fine-boned, sturdy and slightly longer than they are tall. Malteseses have a level top line (line of the back), a deep chest and a slightly rounded skull with a medium-length, tapered (but not pointed) muzzle. Their pendant-shaped, heavily feathered ears set low and close to the head. Large, black, round eyes match black noses.


Maltese dogs are famous for their long, silky, luxurious white coats. Long and flat, the Maltese coat hangs in a single layer that nearly reaches the floor along the body's sides and is often tied in a top knot on the head, better revealing the eyes. AKC standards do not allow any kinkiness, wooliness, curliness or waviness to be present in the hair for show dogs.

General Personality Characteristics

Maltese dogs are devoted, lively, affectionate, gentle, playful, intelligent and fearless. Considered good family pets by the AKC, with good training they learn quickly (especially with rewards). Even though tiny, the Maltese is fearless and bold, and quick to sound the alarm if suspicious of the circumstance. They tend to do well with other dogs and enjoy playing outside.

Attitude Issues

Though the Maltese breed is generally agreeable in nature, they can develop behavioral problems if not trained or poorly trained. The "small dog syndrome," in particular--uncontrollable yappy, aggressive behavior--may be a problem if the dog believes he is the pack leader. Pampering or protecting a Maltese too much can also produce unstable behaviors such as jealousy, separation anxiety, obsessive barking and guarding, in which the dog claims ownership and aggressively defends a small territory (like a favorite spot on the couch)--even from its owners. If a Maltese develops behavioral issues such as these, it can snap at or bite anyone, including children.

Health Problems

Maltese dogs are prone to sunburns along hair parting lines. They also can develop skin, eye, teeth and respiratory issues, along with slipped stifle. Some have weak and temperamental digestion, making feeding tricky. They tend to be uncomfortable in hot weather and should be kept out of damp environments.
Comments (1)
Dec 18, 2013 petersmith
The best way to help a maltese dog is adopting !! See more in maltese puppies
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