9 Things To Know Before Getting A Maltese Puppy
Maltese dogs are as iconic as they are cute – a lot. These little, white bundles of joy are the favorite lap dog breed of many families and for many good reasons.
Did you know that they are also one of the oldest dog breeds in the world, however? It’s true – originating from the island nation Malta, these dogs have been around for thousands of years.
Not your standard “fake” dog breed, in other words.
Does this mean that they are good family pets or that they are right for you, however? Let’s find out.
What are the key characteristics that make Malteses special?
Many people unfamiliar with small dog breeds look down on them thinking that “They serve no actual purpose!” That’s not really the case, however.
Most original dog breeds were scent hounds or “ratter” breeds – dogs used to hunt rat packs in cities and warehouses. Their small stature was an asset and the fact that it also makes them cute is just a lucky coincidence.
That being said, we really don’t know why the Maltese breed is so small – these dogs have been around for millennia but have had the status of “aristocrat companion dogs” for so long that we’re not certain what role they served when they were originally domesticated. It’s very likely that they made the transition from prairie hunters to royal court dogs immediately.
Why does all this matter, however?
Because it serves to prove just how good of a house pet this breed actually is!
Maltese dogs are loving, loyal, energetic, intelligent, smart, beautiful, fluffy, and incredibly fun. And as for their size – what’s wrong with being compact?
But let’s break down their key points one by one.
The 9 things you should know before getting a Maltese
1. Maltese dogs are a very loving and gentle breed
Maltese are one of the most popular “lap dog” breeds in the world! These little cuties love to cuddle and to be petted which is exactly what their owners usually get them for. For this breed, the term “personal space” is simply nonsensical – you can pet them anywhere, everywhere and at all times, they’ll love it.
In fact, it’s fair to say that Maltese are attention-seekers – they love to always be at the center of attention and they hate to be ignored. This can make it a bit tricky to have a second dog or pet as they can get jealous.
Can this be a problem?
If you haven’t socialized and trained your Maltese well then sure, it might be a problem. However, as long as you’ve raised a good pup and you still give them enough attention, there should be no problems.
2. Maltese are not very tolerant toward low temperatures
Much like the Chihuahua and other small breeds coming from warm climates, Maltese dogs hate the cold. Especially when the weather is cold as well, a Maltese can easily get the chills, develop a cold, or even more.
Warm and cute puppy clothes, of course!
Well, technically the best solution is to not get a Maltese if you live in a cold climate. However, if it’s chilly and damp outside, having a puppy coat, sweater or another cover with you is definitely a must.
3. Contrary to popular belief, Maltese are not “yappy” dogs when trained right
Most people tend to think that small dog breeds are “yappy”. And while it’s true that many small breeds tend to compensate for their lack of size with their voices, the Maltese aren’t really a part of that group.
Granted, they are still dogs. And any poorly trained and socialized dog can fall into the habit of barking at anything they hear. So, as long as you train your Maltese not to bark – which should be relatively easy – it can be a perfect apartment companion.
4. These dogs are fighters!
The above point isn’t to say that Maltese pups aren’t feisty – they definitely are. These dogs don’t hesitate to show strangers who’s the boss and don’t back down from a quarrel easily.
Does that mean that they are aggressive toward other breeds?
Not really, not unless you’ve skipped their early socialization. But it is worth noting that you should keep an extra vigilant eye on them if unleased in the dog park – they can be too brave for their own good.
5. Maltese fall in the middle of the “healthy or not” scale
When talking about pure dog breeds, health is always important. There are many breeds that are so popular that they are overbred to the point of having dozens of major health concerns. At the same time, others are still quite healthy thanks to responsible breeding practices.
The Maltese breed falls somewhere in the middle. There are many untrustworthy and irresponsible Maltese breeders who breed Maltese pups with little to no regard for their health.
What can you do about that?
For starters, avoid getting Maltese pups from pet stores, puppy mills, and unverified breeders. Instead, only get your Maltese pups from reputable breeders that offer genuine health certificates or trustworthy shelters/rescues.
Even then, however, some health concerns are just a matter of chance. The main problems to look out for include:
- Hip and elbow dysplasia
- Willebrand’s disease
- Reverse sneezing
- Collapsed trachea
- White dog shaker syndrome
Consult with your veterinarian about these and other conditions common in Maltese pups and don’t skip on the regular vet check-ups to always be on top of any situation that may arise.
6. Avoid “teacup” Maltese pups!
One of the most controversial points about Maltese pups is whether “teacup” Maltese dogs are actually Maltese or not.
They are not.
This is a toy breed that was specifically bred to be even smaller than the standard Maltese dog – as little as 4 pounds for an adult “teacup” Maltese! And while this may sound cute at first, keep in mind that these teacup dogs have many times more health concerns and risk than the standard Maltese. This tends to lead to a life of constant health problems, vet visits, medication, and problems.
Not really fun, is it?
That’s why teacup Maltese dogs are generally not recognized as a part of the Maltese breed and aren’t recommended for breeding or purchasing – the poor pups are forced into lives of misery just because people love how small they are.
7. This is a surprisingly energetic breed
People don’t usually associate lap dogs with high energy but Maltese dogs defy this myth. Granted, they don’t need several hours in the park per day as other breeds – the Maltese are a mostly indoors breed.
They are very energetic for an indoor pup and need lots of playtime every day. If you don’t have small kids and don’t have time to play with your furry ball of white joy, you’d do well to get it a second dog for company or lots of new toys every once in a while.
But then again, if you don’t want to play with your pup, why take it in the first place?
8. Maltese are great with kids
All of the above should pretty clearly show that Maltese dogs are excellent with kids. Small, fluffy, gentle, and loving, when trained how to behave around kids, Maltese are a very safe breed for families.
As for other dogs, cats, and other types of pets, a Maltese can work with those pretty well too. A bit of socialization and training will be required, but there’s nothing inherently unmanageable for a Maltese to share a home with other pets.
9. Grooming is crucial for this breed
This should go without saying but the Maltese’s gorgeous mane needs some care. Daily brushing and combing are needed and regular detangler spray and/or conditioning oil is also recommended. Weekly baths are also a good idea.
Aside from that, don’t forget checking your Maltese’s ears for infections and clipping the pup’s nails from time to time is also a good idea.
Who are Malteses “right” for?
Maltese pups are the perfect companion dog for any indoorsy type person who wants a small and manageable but very loving and playful companion. Gentle, friendly, social, and energetic, this breed can be a shining ray of light in anyone’s life.
If you are a more outdoorsy person, however, and/or you spend lots of time outside, maybe pick a different breed.
How to prepare for getting a Maltese?
Prepping for a Maltese is relatively easy – all you need is to pick the right pup from the right breeder and to be familiar with the possible health issues you should be on the lookout for. Aside from that, the first couple of weeks of housetraining are crucial, so you’d do well to read up on that as well.
From there, the rest is just a matter of stocking up on dog toys and treats, some warn doggy sweaters and coats, a leash, a food bowl, and a dog bed… and that’s it! You’re now ready to get a Maltese pup and have a decade and a half of fun and unconditional love!