The Maltese is a small pet dog. He’s cute and affectionate and very close to the members of his social group. He loves being with them and doesn’t deal well with spending time alone. His masters should be present and available to provide him with all he needs. Docile, intelligent and happy, training him is easy and pleasant - don’t think the latter isn’t necessary simply because he’s small.

Key facts about the Maltese

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Affectionate Calm Intelligent

Size :

Origins and history

The Maltese is an ancient dog, dating back to 500 BC. He was particularly popular among Roman women. Against all odds, his Maltese name actually has nothing to do with the island of Malta, and instead originates from the word “Màlat”, meaning “refuge” or “port” in the Semitic language (spoken in the Mediterranean). Unsurprisingly, the Maltese’s ancestors lived largely in Mediterranean ports, and were tasked with chasing away mice and other pests. The Maltese dog has therefore been around for thousands of years in the Mediterranean, particularly in Italy.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 9 - Companion and Toy Dogs


Section 1 : Bichons and related breeds

Physical characteristics of the Maltese

    Adult size

    Female : Between 8 and 9 in

    Male : Between 8 and 10 in


    Female : Between 7 and 9 lb

    Male : Between 7 and 9 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Maltese is a small dog whose body is one-third longer than his height at the withers, making him look narrow and long. His skull is flat, his eyes are round and very dark, while his ears are triangular, worn high on his head and hang down on the sides of his face, covered in fur. His limbs are short, straight and very furry. His tail is aligned with his rump. His physique constitutes one long curve, finishing at the rump between his hips; he has very long hair that touches the back of his knees.

    Good to know

    This little snowball is a hypoallergenic dog. They are therefore particularly good for people allergic to dog hair and saliva, or even houseproud people looking for a pet that won’t moult all over the place.


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      The Maltese is an adorable dog that is very attached to his social group, with whom he wants to spend all of his time. In no way solitary or independent, he requires a lot of attention and affection.

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      Very jovial, the Maltese dog’s main priority is spending time with his masters; and if that doesn’t include playing, so be it! He will make a great pet for children, but they still need to respect him to make sure the interactions go smoothly.

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      Despite his ability to be very energetic with his master, this dog appreciates calm moments more than anything, especially to be stroked and cuddled; and if on the sofa, even better!

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      While he’s only used as a pet, the Maltese Dog is very intelligent and can greatly excel in a diverse range of activities, including dog dancing, for example.

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      This dog has no predatory instinct at all, despite the fact that he used to serve to hunt mice. Today, he is able to live in the company of small animals, especially if he’s grown up with them.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      This little dog can be quite aggressive in the face of intruders, but will only display his discontent by barking. Once he has figured out a stranger, he will then know if he can approach them for strokes, or if he should continue barking to scare them off.

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      The Maltese Dog is truly dependent of his master. He hates being isolated and doesn’t deal well with being left alone. His only aim is to please his master and has even been known to stare adoringly at his owner for long periods of time as a sign of affection.

      Behaviour of the Maltese

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        Tolerates solitude

        This little snowball is very dependent and attached to his master as well as his social group. If he isn’t surrounded by people all day (such as retired people, for example), it will be necessary to teach him from a young age how to cope with being alone.

        To do this, it will be necessary to make the absences as positive as possible, by providing him with dog toys, for example, and making the absences progressive (5 minutes, then 10, then 15, then 30, etc.). This will be necessary to avoid separation anxiety, which can make for a stressful cohabitation.

        In any case, the Maltese won’t tolerate prolonged absences, so it’s not possible to leave him alone from morning to evening. For busy owners, it will be a question of finding the time to go home during lunch, to elicit the help of a dog sitter or to take him to work if possible.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        Intelligent, lively and docile, the Maltese is very friendly and easy to train if you take the time to teach him the basics from when he’s a puppy.

        His small size does not justify an omission of training. Even small dogs must have limits, rules, and a basic education to properly integrate into the household, but also into society more generally. 

        Therefore, you should train your Maltese as early as possible, to prevent him from learning bad habits. It’s much easier to learn habits than to ‘unlearn’ them, to then have to relearn new behaviours.

        You should pay special attention to teaching him how to be alone, since this dog typically experiences separation very negatively.

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        Barking is this little dog’s principle means of communication. He barks to express a variety of emotions: excitement, frustration, distrust, etc.

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