Maltese Breed Profile


The Maltese is an ancient breed in the toy dog group, one of several small “bichon” dogs found around the Mediterranean for thousands of years. The exact place of origin is a mystery.

Many historians pinpoint Malta for the development of the breed, but conjecture includes Sicily, Egypt, and southern Europe from spitz-type dogs…so the mystery remains.


The Maltese are generally gentle and affectionate, with a cheeky mischievous character.  Bred as companions for royalty and emperors throughout history, it is no wonder they often expect, and are, spoiled rotten.

Because the Maltese thrives on human interaction, they are lively and fast learners and easily motivated by anything they deem is an appropriate reward.

If they are not socialised properly early in life, and often due to their small size, they can become reactive or fearful of other dogs and people.

Physical attributes

The silky coat of the Maltese requires regular grooming to avoid becoming matted.  They also have a tendency to have tear stains on their faces, so daily cleaning around their eyes can help.

They are considered to be one of the hypoallergenic dog breeds as they do not shed too much and have a life expectancy of around 12-15 years.


Maltese are very intelligent and active dogs that needs to be challenged physically and mentally.

Alert to anything suspicious, they do tend to bark a lot, but this can be helped with proper and early socialisation, obedience training and adequate exercise.

Most of the behaviour issues I see in the Maltese can be linked directly back to owners not setting clear boundaries, reinforcing attention seeking behaviour and generally not meeting their dog’s mental and physical needs, which can lead to anxiety and other problems.

Lifestyle considerations

The Maltese is a small dog with a big personality and make great companions in most family and living situations. They need to be watched around younger children though, as they need to be handled gently.

They are one of, if not the Number One, most popular of all dog breeds and they expect to be involved in all family activities, so leaving them all day alone without any company does not bode well for these guys.


From a health point of view, the Maltese is generally a very sturdy and healthy breed.   Like most other small breed dogs, dental disease is an issue with many Maltese and one to keep on top off with daily brushing and regular dental cleans.

The Maltese is also predisposed to  allergic dermatitis which commonly manifests as paw licking, patellar luxating and a congenital liver condition called a portosystemic shunt.

To find out how HIF Pet Insurance can help your pet in times of need, visit HIF.com.au

Terms and conditions, waiting periods and exclusions apply. You should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available at hif.com.au/pet before deciding if this product is appropriate for you. HIF Pet is issued by The Hollard Insurance Company Pty Ltd AFSL No: 241436 and promoted by HIF Insurance Australia Pty Ltd as an Authorised Representative No.250504 of Petsure (Australia) Pty Ltd AFSL 420183.


About the Author: Lara Shannon is a certified dog behaviourist and trainer, pet food nutrition specialist, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of World of Dogs and Eat, Play, Love Your Dog

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