General Maltese Dog Facts & Stats
This is a toy breed dog.
Adult weight will be between 4 to 7 pounds (1.8 to 3.2 kg).
Height, from floor to shoulder, will be 8 to 10 inches (20.3 to 25.4 cm).
Life span is 13 years on average with a range of 11 to 16 years being the normal range.
Maltese dogs originated on Malta, which is a small island off of the coast of Italy. At that time they could be found in many different colors.
Now, the only colors of the Maltese are white….And cream can be found but is not as common nor as preferred as solid, pure white. Very rarely one will see a pale orange or a pale yellow however this is considered to be an imperfection and is not desirable.
Average litter size is 3 with a range of 1 to 4 not being uncommon.
They are considered to be hypo-allergenic dogs.
They are the 22nd most registered breed in the U.S.
Maltese Facts Regarding Color and Appearance
As stated above, white is the most common color. Some may be a light cream; however it is not preferred.
With purebreds, there are no other colors…For example there will be no tan or black markings, etc.
The nose will be black…however if exposed to too much sunlight it can fade to a brown or even pink… For this reason it is suggested to always apply a bit of baby’s sunscreen to exposed skin if spending more than 30 minutes outdoors.
Eyes are very dark, either a very deep brown or a solid black.
Eye rims will also be black and this is known as a halo. Puppies can be born with pink rims that will change as they mature.
Puppies are born with pink bellies which can develop black spots that are similar to freckles and this is due to sun exposure.
The coat is just 1 layer and is has a very silky texture. When left to grow into a Show Coat, it will part down the middle of the back and fall gracefully to floor length. In addition, the long hairs on the top of the head will be gathered and tied up into a topknot, usually finished off with a bow.
Behavior and Temperament Maltese Facts
Unlike some breeds that were bred to be work dogs or hunting dogs, the Maltese were bred to be companion dogs. This means that generations upon generations were bred strictly to be loving, adorable, people oriented dogs.
They are happiest when in the company of their human family members and are very eager to please.
They generally get along very well with children and with other pets, particularly other toy breed dogs.
They are naturally very easy going, bouncy and content….And when treated well they will be a sociable friend for life.
They have a fairly high energy level and despite their size they will play with you for hours or merrily go for a long walk wherever you lead them.
While they are very accommodating, some do not do well with very small children.
Due to their very small size, they do well in any sized home and will be active indoors as well as out.
They tend to bark a lot if left alone and do best in households in which they will have the company of humans for the majority of the time.
They are light shedders and have hair as opposed to fur, which makes them hypoallergenic.
With long show dog coats, brushing and combing often is a must to keep the hairs tangle free and healthy.
Many owners opt to keep their Maltese with an all over body clip known as the Puppy Cut….In these cases, brushing will only need to be done 1-2 times per week.
Due to their light color, tear stains are very noticeable. To help prevent this, the eye area should be wiped a minimum of 1 time per day with a warm, damp washcloth and then patted dry with another clean cloth. It can also help to carefully comb the area in which stains begin to form and to avoid feeding them snacks and food that contain artificial coloring. There are also professional products such as Angel Eyes that can help with this issue.
It is not detrimental to health, however it should be noted that many Maltese do what is known as reverse sneezing. An owner should know to expect this as it at first may cause alarm since it sounds similar to a gagging or snorting sound.
Due to their size they are susceptible to luxating patella, hip dysplasia and collapsed trachea. The 1st is a condition in which the knee cap slips out of place…some may be prone to this due to genetics. An owner may not realize that this has happened until they see their Maltese limping. In many cases there is no pain except for the moment that it slips out of place.
The 2nd ailment, hip dysplasia is a condition that can also be genetic or be caused by injury. It is when the hip socket and joint slip out of place. Both of these conditions can be prevented in many cases by not allowing the Maltese to jump down from furniture, etc.
Collapsed trachea can occur on this fragile dog when he or she wears a collar and leash and lunges or runs ahead and the leash goes taut and puts pressure on the neck. For this reason many owners use a harness instead of a collar.
Tear stains are a common issue, which are very noticeable due to the light coat. The use of plastic bowls can contribute to this, as heavy dyes can leak out into food and water. Routine cleaning, with canine facial wipes, work to keep the area free of build up. Pollutants found in tap water is also a contributing factor.