The Furry Critter Network

Comforter Dog Breed Description

Back to Canine Breed Menu


Breed Organization

American Maltese Association

Native Country
Central Mediterranean Basin - Italy

Other Names
Maltese, Canis Melitaeus, Maltese Terrier, Maltese Lion Dog, Straight-Haired Bichon, Roman Ladies' Dog

Life Expectancy
Approximately 13-15 Years

Litter Size
Average 2-4 Puppies

Breed Group

General Description

The Maltese is a small breed of dog that's known for its long, flowing white coat and gentle demeanor. They are often considered a toy breed and are popular as companion animals due to their affectionate and friendly nature. Maltese dogs are generally intelligent and responsive, though they may require patience during training due to their independent streak. They tend to form strong bonds with their owners and can thrive in various living situations, from apartments to larger homes with yards, as long as they receive proper care and attention. Regular grooming is essential to keep their coat healthy and free of mats.

Breed Standard

Head: Fairly broad. Flat skull. Very pronounced stop. Straight nosebridge. Thin lips. Large nose.
Ears: Set on high, pendulous, hanging against the sides of the head.
Eyes: Fairly large, dark ocher. Edge of eyelids black.
Body: Long. Withers protruding slightly from the topline. Chest well let-down. Straight back. Very broad and long, nearly level croup.
Tail: Thick at the base and thin at the tip. Forming a single large curve with the tip hanging between the hips and touching the croup.
Hair: Very long on the entire body, completely straight, without waves or curls. Silky. Hair on the trunk should be longer than the height at the withers and fall heavily to the ground. No undercoat. Very long on the head. Hair on the tail hangs on only one side of the trunk.
Coat: Pure white. Pale ivory allowed. Traces of pale orange highlights are tolerated, as long as they resemble soiled hairs, but they are a flaw.
Size: Dog: 21 to 25 cm.Bitch: 20 to 23 cm.
Weight: 3 to 4 kg.


The Maltese is a very old breed with hotly debated origins. This little dog's ancestors hunted pests in the ports and maritime cities of the central Mediterranean. It is certain that this dog or a similar breed existed in ancient Egypt and Greece and later in Rome. The ancient Greek geographer Strabon reported that the Sicilian city of Melita exported dogs called canes meliteris. Even though the Maltese is named after Malta, there is no proof that he is a native of this island. Prized by nobility, he was a favorite of England's royal court under Queen Elizabeth I.


Affectionate: Maltese dogs are often deeply attached to their owners and enjoy spending time cuddling and being close to them.
Playful: Despite their small size, Maltese dogs are often quite playful and enjoy interactive games and toys.
Alert: Maltese dogs tend to be alert and aware of their surroundings. They may bark to alert their owners of any potential intruders or unusual activities.
Intelligent: Maltese dogs are generally intelligent and can be quick learners. However, they may also have a stubborn streak, so consistent and patient training is essential.
Social: Maltese dogs typically enjoy being around people and may get along well with other pets if properly socialized from a young age.
Sensitive: Maltese dogs can be sensitive to changes in their environment or routine. They may require gentle handling and may become anxious if left alone for long periods.
Vocal: Maltese dogs have a tendency to bark, which can be a way of expressing themselves or alerting their owners. Proper training can help manage excessive barking behavior.
Lap dogs: Maltese dogs often enjoy sitting on their owner's lap or being carried around. They thrive on human companionship and may seek out close physical contact with their owners.

Understanding these behavioral traits can help owners provide appropriate care, training, and socialization to ensure that their Maltese companion is happy and well-adjusted.


Prone to sunburn along the hair parting, skin, eye issues, respiratory, and slipped stifle. Some may be difficult to feed with weak, upset digestion. They may get the chills, and they experience discomfort in hot weather. Maltese should be kept out of damp areas. Also prone to teeth problems. Feeding dry dog biscuits in addition to their normal food can help the teeth stay clean and healthy.

Back to Canine Breed Menu

Featured Rescues

"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"

laptop pro


The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.

Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.

The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”

laptop pro


If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)

laptop pro

Rescue Me

Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network

Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.