AKC Toy Group


Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Maltese is a very old breed, mentioned in ancient Greek writings and portrayed in ancient Egyptian statuary. The breed was probably named for the Mediterranean island of Malta. It is thought that these lively little dogs were first brought to England by Crusaders returning home from the Mediterranean. The breed became particularly popular with women, who often carried them in their sleeves and even to their beds. The dog was not only popular with women, though. Publius, the Roman governor of Malta, prized his Maltese, Issa, enough to commission a portrait and even have poetry written about her. Today, the glamorous Maltese is an adored pet and sought-after show dog.


A hardy little companion dog with a luxurious, silky white coat hanging straight to the ground on each side of a center part line. The coat is single, with no undercoat, and should not be wavy, curly, or kinky. The long pendant ears and tail are thickly covered with hair, and the tail drapes over the back. The round eyes are dark with dark rims, and the nose is black. The muzzle tapers slightly. The body is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. The Maltese is fine-boned, but sturdy. A properly built Maltese seems to float along the ground under his cloud of white hair.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 8 in.
  • Size:  Very small
  • Weight:  Up to 7 lbs.
  • Availability:  Widely available
  • Talents:  Watchdog, competitive obedience, and performing tricks


The long, straight coat requires daily attention and elaborate show preparation. Must be bathed frequently. Can be snappish with inconsiderate children. May be difficult to housebreak. Sometimes a picky eater. Include small dog biscuits and dry dog food in this breed’s regular diet to help the teeth stay strong and healthy. Does well with other animals. Prone to skin, respiratory, eye, and tooth problems, and slipped stifle. Do not overpamper or overprotect these little dogs; some become neurotic.


Spirited, lively, and playful. Gentle, loving, and trusting. Highly intelligent; good at learning tricks if he feels sufficiently rewarded. Bold. Quick to sound the alarm in case of suspicious noises. Loves to play outdoors, but has a penchant for jumping in puddles. A bath must follow!


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Easy to train
  • Independence:  Needs people a lot
  • Dominance:  Very low
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Very active indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Daily grooming is best.
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Long coat
  • Shedding:  Very light
  • Exercise:  Very little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does OK without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Long (15 or more years)

Useful Links

AKC® Maltese Breed Standard

Maltese Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Maltese

Maltese Gifts