Beautiful people-centred dog with a mysterious origin

Maltese is a small dog breed in a toy group. Bred centuries ago as a companion of European nobles, Maltese is actually a Mediterranean dog breed despite the similarities to many eastern toy dog breeds.


iconCountry of origin: Mediterranean Basin
iconFCI group: Group 9, Section 1.1 Bichons #65
iconTemperament: Docile, Affectionate, Easygoing, Intelligent, Lively, Responsive, Fearless, Sweet-Tempered, Playful, Active, Gentle
iconColors: White
iconWeight: Male: 3–4 kg, Female: 3–4 kg
iconHeight: Male: 21–25 cm, Female: 20–23 cm
iconLife expectancy: from 12 to 15 years

Maltese puppies

As a breed Malteses are very intelligent. With years of experience as a companion dog, they have learned how to get what they want from humans. With that in mind, you have to be consistent with your Maltese’s training. These dogs can be stubborn and determined at times but should respond well to any positive training methods including praise, treats and affection. Malteses have a natural desire to please their owner, so with consistency they should learn basic commands rather quickly. Maltese puppies can sometimes have stubbornness episodes, where they won’t listen to commands. To snap them out of it some treats or praise and affection should do the trick. Bear in mind that Maltese puppies can gain weight rather quickly, so for training choose treats that can easily be split into smaller pieces, just like Bravo from Husse range. As a small dog breed, Malteses only way to defend themselves is their teeth. When cornered or scared (especially with negative reinforcement in training) they can resort to biting, so it is advised to train your Maltese puppies with only positive reinforcement. Feed your Maltese puppy a diet made specifically for small dogs - Valp Mini will be the right choice.


Maltese’s nutrition

A well balanced and high-quality diet that is developed specifically for small or toy dogs is advised for Malteses. Since this dog breed is exclusively white it is best to choose a diet with reduced copper and beta-carotene levels, which in normal amounts can lead to discolouration of the white coat. Ocean Care Mini will be the best choice for a Maltese since it is dry dog food made specifically for small dog breeds with a white coat. Supplemented with prebiotics and essential fatty acids Ocean Care Mini helps maintain healthy skin and coat - an added bonus for a long-haired Maltese.

Detailed description of Maltese

Maltese is a small dog with a compact body that is as long as it is high. Maltese is covered with white, long and silky single-coat. Despite its name, this dog breed has no verified connection with the island of Malta.


There is little information regarding the origin of this dog breed. It is likely that Malteses were introduced to the island of Malta by Phoenicians, who reigned the Mediterranean before Greece. Ancient Greeks and Romans were fascinated by the Maltese. The dog appeared on amphoras. References can be found both in Ancient Greek and Roman literature. Aristotle mentioned Maltese around the year 370 BC. Many early writers considered Melita island to be the home of Malteses, though at that point in history there were two islands bearing that name. With more mentions in literature and poetry of Malteses originating from Melita in Sicily, Mdina, the former capital of Malta or an Adriatic island Méléda it is hard to pinpoint the exact place of origin of Malteses. Among aristocrats of the Roman Empire, this dog breed was considered a status symbol and a fashion statement. After the fall of Rome, Chinese breeders kept Malteses from extinction throughout Europe’s Dark Ages, to then return a refined Maltese back to Europe.


Malteses have slightly rounded skulls, black button nose and brown eyes with a rim of darker skin, which gives these dogs their expressive look. They are small and compact with a curled tail. Ears drop and can sometimes have long hair on them. Malteses have a long and silky coat without an undercoat that should be purely white. Ears may sometimes be coloured pale ivory, which is perfectly normal. It’s worth noting that Malteses do not shed, so this breed is a great choice for people with dog allergies. During colder months with less sunlight, Maltese’s black nose can turn pink or light brown. What is called a “winter nose” returns to normal black with increased exposure to the sun. Some Maltese owners prefer to clip their dog’s coat short, only a few centimetres in length.



Though Malteses are small in size they are extremely brave and can make wonderful watchdogs. They are usually considered playful, pleasant and calm. Malteses respond very positively to affection, which is not surprising taking into account their history as a lap dog of the aristocracy. This dog breed has particularly good manners and is rather gentle - Malteses do not engage in aggressive activities. They are quite an active and athletic breed that enjoys playtime and a game of fetch. Malteses are sturdy and can easily keep up with dogs twice their size. As they are rather active, these dogs should always get their recommended play time, otherwise, the usually good behaving Maltese can become destructive. Unlike other toy breeds, Malteses are highly trainable.


Malteses are very people-centred dogs and do not enjoy being left alone for prolonged periods of time. Separation anxiety can occur in dogs of this breed. With their small size comes a small bladder, so house-training can be a challenge. Malteses do need to urinate a lot and you can easily don’t notice, which leads to creating a bad habit. Like with many other small breeds Malteses see their teeth as their only protection. They can resort to biting when stressed or intimidated. This breed can sometimes have a stubborn streak, especially during training. Never neglect training with your Maltese and strictly follow house rules you set.

Daily care

With their long and silky coat, Malteses require frequent brushing, otherwise, the coat can tangle and mat. In addition to brushing Malteses should be given regular baths with coat conditioning to keep them looking their best. Their nails grow rather fast, so should be trimmed frequently. With Malteses some tear-staining can occur - you should closely monitor the area and if excessive staining happens a visit to a veterinarian is necessary.  It is necessary to brush Maltese’s teeth - giving treats that promote mechanical cleaning will help with oral hygiene of your dog.

Dr Anna Plummer

Vet and blogger