The Maltese is a small breed of dog with white fur that does not shed. They are known as the best therapy dogs in the world because of their extremely loving nature. Maltese is also the healthiest of the Toy breeds of dogs. Adult Maltese range from 5 to 15 pounds. Maltese are easy to train and enjoy playing. The standard type is for a straight, silky coat. Some Maltese may have curly or woolly hair, but this is considered to be outside the desirable standard. Maltese are very territorial and make good watchdogs.

The true origin of Maltese is still debated. Many believe that "the little white dog of antiquity" comes from the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to support another theory that claims that the Maltese ancestry and its name begins in the Sicilian town of Melita. We know for sure that the little white dog was known to the ancients as far as 500 BC. The Greeks and later the Romans called the dog Maltese. These charming lap dogs were kept as pets and were favorites among the ladies. It is thought by many that the breed is a direct ancestor of other toy breeds - Bichon Frise, Bolognese and Havanese.


The Maltese has a spunky determination that is in inverse ratio to his size. He is intelligent, affectionate, keen and an individualist. His is extremely responsive to his environment thus making him an effective watchdog. He is an indoor dog who would not do well in extremes of outdoor temperatures. The coat does need considerable attention due to its silkiness. For exercise, the Maltese needs only indoor play time. Maltese needs a lot of human attention and suffer from separation anxiety which results in excessive barking and destructiveness.

Other Names: Also known in the past as Maltese Spaniel, Maltese Dog, Maltese Lion Dog, Maltese Poodle, Bichon Maltais, Melita Dog, Ancient Dogge of Malta, the Roman Ladies' Dog, or the Shock Dog

Country of Origin: Malta

Utilization: Companion and Toy Dog

Registration FCI Classification: Group 9 -Companion and Toy Dogs; Section 1 - Bichons and related Breeds; AKC Classification: Toy Group

Size: Small (10 inches at shoulders)

Colors: Pure white; a pale ivory tinge is permitted. Traces of pale orange shades are tolerated but not desirable and constitute an imperfection.

Litter Size: 3

Life Span: 9-11 years

Grooming Requirements: Malteses need daily brushing to keep their soft long coat healthy and prevent matting. Eyes need regular cleaning.

Shedding: None

Personality: Gentle, quiet, loving family companion. They do not shed and are perfect for people with allergies.

Social skills: The Maltese gets along with other animals when properly socialized.

Suitability for Children: They are not particularly patient with children, especially those that they have not been socialized with from a young age.

Exercise Needs: Maltese do not require a lot of exercise and they remain quite active indoors, making them a great city dog. They do enjoy running in the yard.

Train Ability: Can be a little hard to house train.

Health & Behavioral Issues: Maltese are one of the healthiest toy breeds available. They have only a few health problems: Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), eye infections, week gums, hypoglycemia and deafness. Beware of breeders who offer "tea cup" Maltese. A Maltese under four pounds is more prone to genetic disorders and is at a higher health risk in general.