Country of origin:
Malta, Central Mediterranean Region
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Good with kids:
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Pros Cons
  • can be satisfied with a short walk
  • very friendly with kids
  • good health
  • long life span
  • gentle
  • needs to be groomed daily
  • doesn't like to stay alone


The Maltese is a courageous, smart, very sociable and friendly breed. It is an active and cheerful dog that can serve not only as a companion but also as a therapy dog and is very good at such dog sports as agility, obedience, rally, and tracking. It is one of the smallest of the toy breeds and will be a devoted family dog.

The Maltese, which is one of the most ancient of the toy breeds, has been a companion breed since its earliest times. Probably the ancient name of the Maltese Terrier, «Melita», is given after Malta (as it’s an archaic name for that isle), with regard to a supposition that the breed came from there 2,000 years ago with the Phoenicians.

During its long history, this nimble little dog has been named as the Melitae Dog, Ye Ancient Dogge of Malta, the Roman Ladies Dog, The Comforter, the Spaniel Gentle, the Bichon, the Maltese Lion Dog, and the Maltese Terrier. Nowadays it is simply named the Maltese.

This small dog has been immortalized in the early great sculptures in Greece, Rome, and Egypt and has even been mentioned by Aristotle. The Greeks erected tombs for their Maltese dogs, while representations of Maltese-like dogs on Egyptian artifacts suggest that they were prized by that ancient culture. The Egyptians and, centuries later, many Europeans, thought that the Maltese had the ability to cure people and was placed on the pillow of an ill person. This inspired one of its names — the Comforter. Even B. C., in Mediterranean countries the breed was considered to be very popular.

There are many theories of this breeds’ origin. According to one of them, in the Isle of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea the breed was derived from Spitz or Spaniel-type dogs. According to the other hypotheses, it was developed in Italy or even in Asia, where it was thought to have a part in developing many of the smaller Asian dogs.

Actually, no matter where it came from, the Maltese managed to become a prosperous breed. By the XV century, it was admired by French aristocrats. Within the period of the reign of Henry VIII, it was brought to the British Isles. By the end of the XVI century, the Maltese had become a favorite breed of the kings. This little dog was a pet of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Queen Victoria.

Though the Maltese managed to survive the fall of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, it was almost annihilated in the XVII and XVIII centuries when people tried to nurture a brand-new breed of the Maltese of the squirrel-size. After this nearly fatal experiment, breeders made an attempt to save this dog by crossing it with Poodles, Miniature Spaniels, and East Asian miniature dogs. This resulted in forming of several new breeds. It is thought by many that Maltese are the direct ancestors of the Bichon Frise, the Bolognese and the Havanese.

Many years ago, the Maltese came not only in white, but in many other colors as well. These days, however, its coat can be only white. It was English breeders who nurtured the Maltese as we know it now. Many of the Maltese in the USA today trace their heritage back to English imports. Maltese first appeared in the America in the late 1800s. They were entered in the very early Westminster Kennel Club shows in the 1870s.

The Maltese was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1888 and by the United Kennel Club in 1948. Since then, the breed has become quite popular. The Maltese is one of the most popular breeds at dog shows, and wins the Toy Group regularly.


The Maltese is cheerful, nice and sociable and people-oriented companion dog. It is very loving and tender with its owners and craves for constant attention and tends to suffer from separation anxiety. So, it's not a good idea to leave your dog alone for long periods of time. The Maltese loves to sleep on the owners' lap, cuddle up to you or snuggle down on top of you.

The Maltese gets along better with older children and is not recommended for families with small children as this breed won’t tolerate rough play or teasing and might even bite a child. This breed will be a good watchdog, but can bark too much.

Some breed members can feel nervous around strangers, therefore you should socialize your dog properly from the very young age. In this case the Maltese will get on quite well with other dogs and even cats, but can try to attack bigger dogs. So, be careful and supervise this little barking creature well.

Health Problems

The most common health problems for the breed include:
• canine hip dysplasia and some other joint problems;
• hypothyroidism;
• vascular system diseases;
• eye problems;
• digestion problems;
• respiratory system problems.

The Maltese has a stunning coat, but it mats easily and demands daily grooming. Some owners even prefer a «puppy cut» for their dog, but it's not acceptable for the dog shows. If you decided to leave your dog's hair long be ready to brush and comb it daily and wash its face after every meal.

The Maltese can be bathed once a week or more if dirty using a special dog shampoo. You can also use a dry shampoo. Brush your dog's ears and teeth on a regular basis, trim nail when needed and visit a professional if you feel not ready to do the grooming yourself.


The Maltese is a very intelligent breed, actually, one of the smartest in the world and one of the most responsive of all toy breeds. This breed is easy to train, will succeed in obedience competitions, agility and is able to perform different tricks.

The sensitive Maltese best of all responds to reward-based training. So, use a lot of treats, rewards and praise and avoid harsh methods. However, this breed is very difficult to housebreak. As with any other dog, start socialising your Maltese from the very young age.


The Maltese is an active breed but doesn't need excessive amount of exercise and can adapt to more sedentary life. However, a daily walk is a must. This breed is rather active indoors and will be happy to play with its favourite toys or its owners at home. This toy dog is very playful and prefers games like fetch. It will also enjoy agility of obedience competitions.