Maltese Temperament & Personality



Maltese Temperament & Personality



Quick Overview

The Maltese dog breed is one of the real stunners of the canine species. Their unrivaled elegance, beauty, and charm would be so hard to resist. The breed is popularly known for its dazzling white hair, soulful eyes, and adorably small size.


On top of their superior visuals, they also have a great personality and top-notch intelligence that make them a good human companion. This article will discuss everything about the Maltese dog breed, including their health profile, maintenance, and care.



Maltese Dog Breed

The Maltese is a proud member of the toy dog category, best known for its exceptionally small size. Throughout history, the breed has received many names like “Melitae Dog,” “The Comforter,” and “The Roman Ladies Dog” before finally landing on Maltese.


The Maltese dog breed truly manifests elegance and sophistication, so much so that it became a well-loved dog of royals and aristocrats. As described by the existing breed standards, the Maltese has a silky pure white coat, pretty but intense eyes, a black nose, dropped ears, and a long graceful tail.


In the past, Maltese existed in several colors ranging from black to tan. However, as the popularity of the pure white Maltese boomed, the breed standards also evolved. Today, the only accepted Maltese colors are white and combinations of white with tan and lemon.


Apart from the striking appearance of Malteses, they are also well-known for their great personality. This breed is loyal, loving, sweet, and friendly. They are also intelligent and easy to train. These qualities make them an excellent companion dog for patients diagnosed with separation anxiety and other mental health issues.


But despite their freakishly tiny physique, Maltese are often full of energy. They love running and playing around. They could also get feisty, especially when they feel the urgent need to protect their owners and family.


And even though Maltese dogs look rather extravagant, they are quite adaptable to their environment. They don't mind living in limited spaces, which explains why they are perfect for owners living in apartments or condos. Malteses can thrive and live a long time if they’re well taken care of.



white dog outside running



Maltese Origin and History

The Maltese dog breed may have been around as far back as 2,000 years ago. There is insufficient scientific evidence to reveal their exact origins, but historical literature can provide insight into the breed's early days.


Experts believe that Malteses came from a beautiful island in the Mediterranean called Malta. In years past, Malta was a popular trading port for seafaring regions like Greece, Rome, and the Mediterranean. The island was a hub for exchanging valuable commodities (spices, fabric, etc.) between these countries. According to historians, this time of booming trade could be when the Phoenicians first introduced Malteses to the island.


Soon, the Greeks also took a liking to the breed. Literature shows that even Aristotle wrote lines to describe the Maltese breed. It did not take long for Romans to succumb to the Maltese craze. They used the breed to symbolize wealth, fame, and beauty.


However, when the Roman empire's conquering hand caused Malteses to flee Malta, the Chinese took them in. Maltese were bred with local toy dogs of China, giving birth to a more exquisite appearance. Soon after, the Chinese-bred Maltese returned to Europe, where its popularity started to boom again.


It was in 1888 when the American Kennel Club recognized the Maltese as an official dog breed.





Maltese Personality Profile

Overall, Maltese is a loyal, gentle, and loving breed. They don’t shy away from expressing their love for you by cuddling, licking, and sitting on your lap.


This dog is also extremely social and calm. Unlike other breeds, Maltese doesn’t bark aggressively at strangers and other animals. They are so friendly that they can easily get along with new people and other dogs.


However, Maltese dogs often experience separation anxiety due to their clinginess and closeness with their owners. If left untrained, they can become too sensitive when left alone, resulting in a significant behavioral change.


Despite their freakishly small bodies, Malteses are always pumped up with energy. They love running around your house. You can also buy toys for them to play with. Although they are often in high spirits, they do not require frequent visits outdoors.


Lastly, Maltese dogs are smart and obedient. They are trainable and easy to motivate through positive reinforcement. These dogs also have the talent to recognize the feelings and moods of their owners.


Remember that a dog’s personality is a product of several factors such as training, environment, and treatment. If you spoil a Maltese too much, they can potentially become too aggressive and cranky. If they fail to socialize at a young age, they may become feisty around strangers and other animals. It is crucial to establish a fine line between loving and spoiling your Maltese.



Maltese Care Requirement

As the parent of a fur baby, it is your top priority to ensure that your Maltese is healthy and happy. So, in this section, we’ll discuss the dos and don’ts in taking care of your Maltese.



Malteses, being so tiny, only require moderate levels of exercise. On average, 30 minutes a day can be enough for them. And the best part is that, because Malteses are always in high spirits, they often meet this requirement just by playing, walking, or running indoors.


They do not need regular trips outside to get active. But bringing them to the park once in a while can benefit their health and socialization skills. You can also try letting them tag along while you jog!



The long, silky, and pure white coat of the Maltese is its defining feature. Hence, taking care of it is a must.


Malteses do not have an undercoat. That is why they do not shed as much as the other dog breeds. However, this is also the very reason why their coat needs more attention. Malteses need regular brushing and coat combing. Try to bathe them once a week to remove the dirt and dust stuck in your Maltese’s hair.


As for hair trimming, Maltese owners often recommend the short and clean “puppy cut” over the long, flowing “show cut.” This is primarily because Malteses get dirty easily, especially when their coat is long.


If you leave them be without proper grooming for just a week or so, your Maltese can look like a dirty rag lying around you.


Life Span

One of the best things about Malteses is that they have a long life expectancy. According to vets, a Maltese can live up to 12-15 years. This is longer compared to bigger dogs that can only thrive for 6 -10 years.


But never forget that life expectancy needs to be coupled with good care. As long as you stick to keeping them healthy and happy, you can certainly spend more time and make more memories with a Maltese.



A Maltese dog breed is one of the easiest breeds to train. They love to impress their owners by obeying instructions with notable enthusiasm and energy. Apart from this, Maltese is an intelligent breed that makes them quick learners. They can easily understand and grasp any instructions you provide them.


Positive reinforcement is an effective training technique for Malteses. They feel more motivated when you shower them with praises, treats, and rewards.


According to dog trainers, sessions for Malteses must be kept short but fun since they tend to lose interest quickly. Moreover, remember to become consistent in your training instructions.



white puppy getting groomed



Maltese Common Health Problems

Like most dogs, Malteses are quite vulnerable to certain health conditions. Here are some of the most common diseases that threaten their well-being:


Reverse Sneezing

Often you will hear a Maltese make choking or snorting sounds. This may raise some concerns to owners hearing it for the first time. However, reverse sneezing can only be a real danger for dogs with heart conditions.


Reverse sneezing, also called pharyngeal gag reflex, is a common reaction of dogs to irritation or inflammation of the airway passages (nose, sinus, and pharynx). Dogs may also do this as an attempt to remove particles, dust, or debris that may have entered their respiratory tract.


There is no medical procedure or meds required to treat reverse sneezing in dogs. The best thing you can do is to gently massage the throat of the Maltese until it relaxes. You can also try bringing them outside for fresh air or blowing their face lightly. If the condition perseveres, visit your vet for a consultation.


Collapsing Trachea

Small dogs like Malteses are at risk of a progressive respiratory condition called tracheal collapse. The trachea is the tube that connects the larynx to the bronchi. It is necessary for the delivery and exit of air.


  • In this condition, the cartilage that makes up the trachea breaks down, causing the collapse. Dogs with this disease may experience:
  • Severe dry cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue-colored mucous membrane
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing


There is still an ongoing debate about the probable cause of the disease. Experts believe that this could be genetic. The treatment for tracheal collapse is meds, including antibiotics and sedatives. In more severe cases, surgery is also done.


White Dog Shaker Syndrome

The syndrome is named “white dog shaker” because it is common among white and small dog breeds such as Maltese. Studies show that the medical condition occurs more commonly in dogs weighing 30 pounds or less.


The disease is characterized by body tremors that can extend up to the head. The severity can range from mild to debilitating. Eye twitching can also be seen in dogs diagnosed with the disease. The cause is yet to be determined. Many experts believe that this could be related to the dog’s immune system.


To treat this disorder, the vet will most probably recommend steroids to reduce the frequency and severity of the tremors. As soon as your Maltese gets better, it will need less medication. Regular check-ups are also required so that the vet can monitor the condition of your dog.


Luxating Patella

Patella luxation is a bone disorder described as the dislocation of the kneecap (patella). The possible causes of this condition include trauma and genetics.


Dogs with patellar luxation can be in a lot of pain, especially when the dislocation occurs. The condition may appear sudden, but patellar luxation progresses gradually.


The treatment varies depending on the severity of the condition. Mild dislocations can be managed by weight management, diet, and lifestyle change, while severe conditions might require surgical procedures.





Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disease that can ultimately lead to loss of sight or blindness. The condition is caused by recessive genes inherited from both mother and father.


PRA leads to the gradual degeneration of the retina, and the most common symptom is clumsiness or hesitation to enter a dark room. Unfortunately, there is no available treatment to improve or regain sight.



small puppy learning how to walk



Maltese Dog Breed Facts

Here are some of the most interesting facts about the Maltese dog breed:


  • Famous royalties like Queen Victoria and Empress Josephine Bonaparte owned and kept Maltese by their side.
  • Malteses are guaranteed hypoallergenic that makes them a better option for people with allergies.
  • This dog breed tends to be a picky eater, especially when spoiled. Good training and food options can help in avoiding this problem.
  • The nose of the Maltese can change in color due to insufficient exposure to sunlight, dry air, cold, and allergies.
  • Malteses love company, which is why they are prone to separation anxiety.



Maltese Physical Traits

The Maltese breed is characterized by its remarkable short stature and compact physique. According to breed standards, Maltese must weigh 4-7 pounds only.


On the other hand, a Maltese's height should only be around 8-10 inches from the ground up to their shoulders. Males are slightly taller than females. However, the difference is not significant.


Refrain from purchasing the “teacup Maltese” that weighs less than 4 pounds. They are at greater risk of medical conditions, and breeders that create these incredibly small dogs should not be supported.



Maltese General Appearance

The overall appearance of the Maltese is very distinct from other dogs. Its long, silky, and pure white coat is a sight to behold. You’ll seldom notice their ears because they blend perfectly with their face, especially when the hair is long. This is because their ears are dropped or close to the face.


The eyes of the Maltese are also noteworthy. They are often in black or dark brown shades. Their eyes are very expressive. Breeders are very much interested in a feature called “black eye rim.” It is characterized as the black-colored outline of the eyes.


Their button nose appears small and in black color. Their tail is long and curved.



Maltese Diet and Nutrition

Since the Maltese is a small-bodied dog breed, it is very important to monitor their diet. Never let them overeat, as this can lead to obesity. An overweight dog is more at risk of certain issues like joint problems.


According to vets and animal nutritionists, Malteses must eat a well-balanced meal composed of just-the-right amounts of calories, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.


You can choose from dry food, a natural diet, or a mix. For dry food, make sure that it contains fewer preservatives and additives. For a natural diet, make sure to include organ meat, raw vegetables, grains, starchy tubers (like sweet potato), and nuts. You can serve it either cooked or raw.


Never feed your Maltese with table scraps, leftovers, cooked bones, avocado, chocolate, bread, onion, and raisins. Since they are so small, like chihuahuas, they have a very sensitive digestive system. Feeding these foods can cause indigestion.


Related Resource: What Can Dogs Eat [Guides]



Where to Adopt or Buy a Maltese

We always suggest adopting and fostering dogs like Malteses rather than buying. The first reason is that the price is so exorbitant. Usually, a Maltese puppy costs $600 - $2,000 based on the pedigree and breeder.


The second and most important reason is that many Malteses need new homes. You can always ask the nearest dog pound near you or inquire to the American Maltese Association Rescue group.


But you can always buy from reliable sellers like the American Kennel Club and American Maltese Association if you feel that adoption is not the right choice for you.





More about Malteses

The Maltese dog breed is a real showstopper. Their elegance and sheer beauty are something to look forward to. Apart from being adorable, they are affectionate, loving, and loyal. Malteses will cuddle, kiss, and remain beside you as long as they can.


They are also extremely smart and adaptive. A Maltese dog can live comfortably in an apartment, condo, or dorm. Malteses also respond well to training and positive reinforcements, thus making your living arrangements much better. Not only that. They also make good family dogs since they are incredibly social. Just take extra measures if you have a little one at home. With all these considerations, you're now ready for a Maltese!


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