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AKC Meet the Breeds: Maltese

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

A toy dog covered from head to toe with a mantle of long, silky, white hair, the Maltese is gentle mannered and affectionate, known for being lively, playful, and fearless despite its small size. Maltese are intelligent little dogs that are very fast learners if they feel sufficiently rewarded. Today, their refinement, cleanliness, and portability make them a popular choice as a companion dog.

A Look Back
The Maltese was once known as "Ye ancient dogge of Malta," for that is where they were first recognized and how they received their name. The breed has been an aristocrat of the canine world for over 28 centuries, owned by royalty all over the globe. Even as far back as the 1500s they were claimed to be sold for $2,000. And while other companion dogs such as the Pomeranian have been bred down from larger sizes, the first Maltese were the same size as the dogs we see today.

Right Breed for You?
Even though the Maltese is a very small dog, they tend to be brave and without fear. They are one of the most gentle of all little dogs, but are also full of energy and very playful, making them great family dogs. Maltese should be brushed daily, and groomed often to prevent mats from forming in their long, white coat.

  • Toy Group; AKC recognized in 1888.
  • Under 7 pounds; 4 to 6 pounds preferred.
  • Companion dog.



AKC Meet the Breeds is a registered trademark of the American Kennel Club, Inc.

Comments (6)

  • Rachellenz 10 Feb, 2012

    I adopted my maltese from a friend 6 months ago. His name is Punky, he weighs in at 5 lbs. And I love him. Growing up we had black labs, blood hounds and American bull dogs, I never wanted a small dog...... Until I met this little wonder. He's cute, affectionate, smart and so patient with our 4 year old daugter. He's more cat than dog, he loves his little mouse toys more than his felt balls and loves bowls of milk. Sweetest dog ever!!!!

  • MLSchrock 24 Oct, 2011

    We are now on our 2nd precious Maltese. Our 1st, little Abbey, was born with multiple handicaps. She died on Jan 25th in our arms. She weighed in at 7#. I was confined to the house moset of the winter and missed her terribley. Had she lived she would hve been with me all the time. So, we now have our seconf baby, Chloe, who at 16 mo weigh 3.14#. It is such a delight watching her play in all the ways that Abbey never could. She is a delight to watch. we laugh on a daily basis. Terrific dogs!!!!!

  • cbenedick 20 Apr, 2011

    We feel the same way about our "Duke". He is so gentle so sweet. He loves to play though, and can actually play "Hide and Go Seek". He also has numerous toys that he fetches by name. He is an absolute joy to be with. A true member of our family. He'd rather be on our lap than anywhere else. And we'd rather be with him... than anyone else. (just kidding!)

  • 1013elle 8 Oct, 2010

    My tiny Maltese, Popcorn, is all of four pounds at four years old. She is the sweetest, liveliest baby in the world, and we adore her. She has a beautiful little face and the most intelligent, sentient eyes. She has a whole set of "scaled down" toys with funny names --- and she can actually go get them by name. It makes me happy that she is enjoying a good, healthy life. She brings us so much joy, I always ask "what did we do for delight before we had her?"

  • JLVeer 19 Sep, 2010

    Our Maltese,Macy, is a perfect fit for us as my wife has several allegies.She has been part of our family for 6 years.She is still as playful as a puppy and likes to sleep between us.As we have a tick problem here in Arkansas,she is indoors 99% of the time.We groom her short with flowing ears and bushy tail.Since she is a little lady we groom her face with no moustache.

  • LauraHurn 25 Aug, 2010

    This summary of the Maltese is very apt, as my Maltese has indeed proven to be highly intelligent and fearless despite his tiny size. My male Maltese is highly dependent, insisting to be held and/or laying next to me (with his body pressed against me at all times.) This breed is very cuddly!
    I have opted for a 'puppy cut' on my Maltese, and not to allow his fur to grow as long as that pictured, thus I don't need to groom my sweet boy daily.