Maltese Dog Breed Information and Personality Traits

Highly suitable for indoor living and small areas, the diminutive Maltese is gentle, responsive and intelligent. It can be a fickle eater and difficult to housebreak.

Maltese At a glance
The Maltese Dog Breed

The Maltese has been highly valued in society. In fact, one account tells of a Maltese being sold in the 1500s for the equivalent of $2,000.


Weight Range:

Male: 4 lbs.
Female: 4 lbs.

Height at Withers:

Male: 10 in.

Female: 9 in.


Floppy ears (naturally).


Exercise Requirements: 20 minutes/day
Energy Level: Very Energetic.
Longevity Range: 12-14 yrs.
Tendency to Drool: Low.
Tendency to Snore: Low.
Tendency to Bark: High.
Tendency to Dig: Low.
Social/Attention Needs: High .

Bred For:



Length: Long.
Characteristics: Straight.
Colors: White.
Overall Grooming Needs: High.

Club Recognition:

AKC Classification: Toy.
UKC Classification: Companion Dog.
Prevalence: Common.

The Maltese is a diminutive dog weighing from four to six pounds (two to three kilograms).

The body is compact, the shoulder blades sloping. The back is level and the ribs well sprung. The tufted tail is carried gracefully over the back. The neck is elegantly structured to promote high carriage of the head.

The head is well proportioned to the body and the skull is slightly rounded. The drop ears are low set and heavily feathered. The eyes are dark, the nose black and the muzzle of medium length and slightly tapered.

The long, silky coat that sweeps or hangs close to the ground gives the Maltese an almost ornamental appearance. The long hair on the head may be tied in a topknot or left hanging. The coat color is pure white.

The Maltese moves in a buoyant, flowing gait.


The Maltese is gentle, affectionate, intelligent, responsive and trusting. A good family dog, Maltese are lively, playful, vigorous, and they generally enjoys learning tricks. They can be snappy with raucous children. The petite build of the Maltese belies its fearless presence. Highly alert, the Maltese elicits a flurry of barking in response to unfamiliar noises.

Living With:

The Maltese is a suitable indoor dog that thrives even in apartments and small confines. This breed can be difficult to housebreak, and they tend to be finicky eaters. Maltese are light shedders and are acceptable pets for most allergy sufferers. Daily brushing and regular bathing are recommended in order to prevent coat matting. The hair around the eyes should be cleaned daily in order to prevent tear staining.


For more than 28 centuries, the Maltese spaniel has been the aristocrat of the dog world. It is believed that the Maltese originated in Malta, a tiny island south of Sicily. It is only fitting that such a noble dog be established in Malta, whose civilization was distinguished by its sophistication and opulence.

One Maltese of note, Issa, was owned by Publius, the Roman governor of Malta in the 1st century. Issa was described in a celebrated epigram as "frolicsome … purer than a dove's kiss, gentler than a maiden … more precious than Indian gems." Many famous authors and scholars, including Pliny the Elder and Strabo, wrote of the beauty, finesse and irresistible charm of the tiny Maltese dog. The Greeks erected tombs to their Maltese and, from the 5th century on, these ornate dogs are represented in Greek ceramic art. Archaeological evidence exists to show that Maltese dogs were owned by the Egyptians who may have worshiped them.

The Maltese has been highly valued in society throughout time. In fact, one account is of a Maltese being sold in the 1500s for the equivalent of $2,000. It is said that Maltese dogs were particularly popular with women who carried them in their bosoms or their sleeves. Invariably, scholars of yore drew attention to the breed's diminutive size. In 1792, the botanist Linnaeus referred to Maltese as being "about the size of squirrels." The first Maltese exhibited in the United States was white and listed as a "Maltese lion dog" at Westminster's first dog show in 1877. The American Kennel Club registered the Maltese in 1888.

Related Pet Care Articles