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 get a quote from Bow Wow Meow Pet insurance specific to the Maltese breed, or to cover your own dog for illness or injury*, visit their website.

You can use their Breed Selector tool too if you would like to find out if the Maltese is compatible with your lifestyle.

*Waiting Periods, limits and conditions apply. Any advice is general only. You should read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) available at bowwowinsurance.com.au. Pet Insurance issued by Hollard AFSL 241436, administered by PetSure AFSL 420183 and promoted by Pet Tag Holdings AR no. 318913.

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

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Receive the latest news

Get a FREE Book Extract

Join our community and receive a FREE extract from Eat, Play, Love Your Dog on ‘How to look after your dog’s mental wellbeing’.