The Maltese terrier has been and still could be the most popular breed in the small dog world. Not only do they make the perfect family pet they are also great for first time owners and people who live on their own. Maltese dogs are both affectionate lap dogs and exuberant playmates. While they don’t require much space they do love their daily walks. For those with children, like all dogs, interactions should be supervised as these are small dogs and can be easily trampled on.
This lively and playful dog breed is quite intelligent, and should be easy to train. Training and socialization together play key role in how a Maltese turns out. Treat him like a helpless baby or spoil/indulge him, he is likely to end up over dependent, insecure, or bratty and yappy. You should require him to show the same good manners as you would expect from a larger dog. This is easily accomplished because Maltese respond very well to training and many excel in competitive obedience and agility. They are notoriously difficult to housebreak and should have easy access and constant toilet breaks as a pup if kept inside. Excessive barking may also need to be controlled as they love to let you know of every new sight and sound, teaching them to stop barking on command will help.
Expect your Maltese to be very active when inside the house. Maltese do well in apartments, townhouses and is a perfect pet for those living in the city or without yard space, but would love to accompany you in daily walks. Larger dogs may view him as a delicacy, so a Maltese must always be leashed or fenced for his own protection. Fences should be triple-checked for slight gaps through which he might wriggle through.
If you are looking for a low maintenance coat then this dog is not for you. Maltese breed standards refer to a single, silky, heavy, shiny, flat coat that contours the outline and hangs to the floor. This texture also means that the coat can easily matt. If neglected, the coat will also cause serious health problems such as skin infections, pain and restricted movement. Keep the coat well out of the eyes otherwise constant tearing will cause a painful dermatitis. They require brushing at least three times a week (read blog coat care on how) and depending on what length you keep the coat in professional grooming every 4-8 weeks. As they require a lot of grooming they should be socialised to the experience at a young age. This means introducing them to a brushing routine from the moment you get them and professional grooming as soon as they have had their vaccinations.
There are a number of health problems associated with this breed. Some of these include glaucoma, deafness, thyroid problems, low blood sugar and sensitivity to chemicals and drugs. Maltese are prone to gingivitis and dental problems and need a diet that includes chewy food such as raw chicken necks.
As with many other toy breeds the most common health issue relates to the leg joints. Patellar luxation, the locking of the kneecaps, is not entirely uncommon and can progress to cause more serious osteoarthritis. This condition can usually be addressed with surgery. When purchasing your puppy, have a vet check it over thoroughly. When picking a Maltese pup or even a cross breed you should be looking for nice straight legs on both the pup and the parents the diagram below shows what you should look for
For more information or to contact a breeder check out the Maltese club of Victoria
Bianca is the owner and groomer at Funky Fur dog grooming and always looking for ways to help you care for your pet.