Breed Focus: Maltese   Leave a comment

By Nicola van Ass – taken from ThinkingPets newsletter (see Websites I Recommend)
The Maltese Poodle is a small breed of dog that generally weighs between 1.8Kg and 5Kg. Their origin is largely unknown although they have been around as a breed since Aristotle mentioned them in 370BC. They are generally pure white, but some have either cream or a pale ivory colouring. Originally thought to have been bred for catching rats, they have become sought after companions for the new dog owner, experienced dog owner as well as elderly dog owners.

The Maltese is known for its love of company and affection. They do not have very high pain thresholds, so getting their ears pulled by children may make them reactive towards children in future. It is very important to socialize them to all ages of people from day one so that your Maltese puppy can grow up into a well-adjusted adult. When children are playing with them, it’s important to make sure the children are supervised at all times and taught a gentle way to handle dogs in general.

They have a lot of energy and even when they start to age they still tend to be curious and excited about most things. They enjoy playing with people and will keep you entertained constantly.

They have soft fur that, if left to grow, can have a similar look to that of a Yorkshire Terrier. However, most people tend to clip the breed into either a summer cut (in the warmer months) or the Teddy Bear cut throughout the year. They are known as a hypoallergenic breed, which means that if someone is allergic to dogs in general they tend not to be allergic to the Maltese or they will have a minimal allergic reaction. They do not have an undercoat, which means less shedding and because their fur is soft and silky it is perfect for those who do not want dog fur on their furniture and around their homes. Keep in mind though that they do need regular grooming to prevent matting of the fur and they also require a lot of care to their eyes as they tend to get tear stains under their eyes. This is caused by the eye watering and the liquid sits on the fur under the eyes. If left and not cleaned, this can cause a staining of the white fur and can also become infected, causing pain and discomfort for our furry friends. Wiping under the eyes every day or two with damp cotton wool can lessen the staining and possibility of infection.

With regards to their health, they are generally a healthy breed. Being a small breed a Maltese can live for up to 18 years! They tend to suffer from eye problems like cataracts as they age and they are known to have a problem called “reverse sneezing”. It sounds like they are wheezing and tends to happen when they are excited or if they have an allergy. It is not life threatening and is usually helped by calming the dog down and getting it to relax.

Because of their white fur, the Maltese needs extra protection against harmful UV rays. Spending long periods in the sun without shade can cause sun burn and skin problems. Always make sure that there is shade available for your dog, no matter the breed, and use pet-friendly sun screen when you are out and about.

A common issue with the breed is that they tend to bark quite a lot. While this is great for alerting people of danger, it can become quite a problem if not sorted out fairly early. Training and behaviourists are generally able to help with this problem.

As with all small breeds, the Maltese may take longer to house train than other puppies. It is extremely important to be consistent when house training your puppy. Do keep in mind that it is unpleasant for dogs that are close to the ground to go outside in cold and wet weather. You can start preparing your puppy for the rainy months by wetting the grass outside once in a while before taking him outside. This helps to familiarize your puppy with the feel of wet grass.

The Maltese is quite an easy dog to train – they are known for their keen intelligence. They enjoy the company of humans and tend to focus on their owner when being spoken to. They are generally happy in socialisation classes and tend to get on well with most new puppies in class. Keep in mind that they start out very small and care needs to be taken when introducing them to large dogs. Also, remember that each dog is an individual, so while they might be easy to train not every dog acts according to the guidelines. A well socialised and trained Maltese will be a wonderful addition to any home. As with all breeds, patience and consistency is required when training as well as at home.


Posted 01/09/2012 by Rose's Puppy School in Dog Breeds

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