Maltese: Puppy Training, Health Care, and Breed Information

All the dog breeds I’m covering are widely popular, but the Maltese puppy is by far one of the most highly-demanded and exclusive dogs on the market today.

Jump to: Breed History, Appearance, Temperament, Health Issues and Maltese Puppy Training.

Why is the Maltese puppy so popular? They’re adaptable, have nearly zero health complaints, and they’ve got all the personality and affection you could want from a household pet.

The Maltese puppy is beyond cute – they’re just plain melt-your-heart adorable. The personality of a Maltese puppy mixes a clownish sense of humor, with gentle affection. All the Maltese asks is that you spend time with him or her – they need a lot of love, and why say no? The two-way bond between a Maltese puppy and a human family is truly deep and special.

Breed History – Maltese

The pure-bred Maltese puppy is a very old breed whose history is somewhat lost in time. It’s believed they originated in Malta, and may be related to the Spitz.

To give you an idea of how old this breed is, Maltese puppies have been found depicted in the artwork of ancient Egypt.

Thanks to this ancient lineage, their extreme beauty, and their personalities, Maltese puppies were favorites of the very rich throughout history. You’ll find that your cheeky little Maltese expects to be treated as royalty.

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Appearance – Maltese Puppy

Luxurious, ultra-soft, pure white hair arranged in a poof-ball shape is the crowning glory of the Maltese appearance. Coupled with a cute round face, and a regal “mustache” of facial hair, you can’t help but fawn at a Maltese puppy.

Set against this glorious white fur, is the Maltese puppy’s black nose and big, round, dark eyes. His ears are droopy and long, hanging at the side of his head, and have a touchable soft covering of feathery fur.

An adult Maltese dog weighs between four and eight pounds, and is about eight to ten inches tall. There are smaller variations, often called “teacup” Maltese puppies. Be wary of these, because this is sometimes an underhanded marketing trick to sell sickly Maltese puppy runts.

Some other notes about the Maltese puppy related to their appearance:

  • A Maltese puppy will hardly ever shed, and their fur is hypoallergenic.
  • Maltese puppies love to play in the mud – so much for that shining white coat! Even if they don’t do this, you’ll want to brush your Maltese about two or three times a week.
  • The fur around the eyes of a Maltese puppy can become stained by his tears. There are products to fight this staining, but regular cleaning and proper diet is enough.
  • The large ears of a Maltese puppy will require regular clearning to avoid infections.

Social Temperament of the Maltese Puppy

The Maltese is yet another breed that is occasionally the victim of dastardly “puppy mills” which pay no mind to the needs or well-being of the puppies. Meanwhile, a smart, caring Maltese puppy breeder will take special care to prevent breeding dogs with hereditary health problems, and will give the pups a kick-start to their essential socialization training.

With that said, a Maltese puppy that’s properly cared for will be a life-long joy to your family. Here are a few notes to keep in mind, relating to the social temperament of Maltese puppies:

  • Make sure to introduce your Maltese puppy to other dogs, children, and other people, but to do so in a careful way. Puppy socialization training is a big deal early in life. Properly socialized Maltese puppies will be confident and outgoing for life.
  • Make sure to always give your Maltese lots of exercise. If you don’t, he’ll do it himself by zooming around the house, barking his adorable little head off to burn up energy. This will become a nightly ritual in a Maltese puppy that doesn’t get enough play time.
  • Since Maltese puppies bond so closely with humans, it’s important to avoid separation anxiety.
  • Befitting such a regal breed, the Maltese puppy is basically fearless and makes a fine watchdog.
  • A Maltese puppy will make you laugh. They have a strong sense of humor and like to show it.

Unique Health Problems – Maltese Puppies

The Maltese breed is one of the most stable dogs, both mentally and physically, that you could ask for. This is even more so when bred carefully. Maltese dogs usually live about 14 active years.

Still, no living thing is invincible. Here’s what to know when caring for your Maltese puppy:

  • Extreme heat and cold are difficult for Maltese dogs to bear.
  • Like most dog breeds, the Maltese is prone to Progressive Retinal Atrophy, an eye problem.
  • They also sometimes suffer from respiratory (breathing) problems.
  • Some Maltese puppies suffer from liver shunts, meaning the blood doesn’t pass through the liver. The liver cleanses the blood, so this is a problem.
  • Patellar Luxation, a leg problem that can cause sudden pain, but is usually not too severe.
  • Distichiasis, where the eyelashes grow inward instead of outward.
  • Toy dogs need more dental care than bigger dogs, because they rarely get to chew on bones. Brush your Maltese’s teeth about once a week.
  • One strange dental problem is that some Maltese puppies never lose their baby teeth. If yours seems to be outgrowing his or her Maltese baby teeth, see a veterinarian.
  • Make sure you give your Maltese puppy the quality dog food he deserves, and don’t overfeed.

Training Advice – Maltese Puppy

Maltese puppy training is astonishingly easy to carry out, especially when you take into account their mischievous and spoiled-rotten personalities. They’re smart and willing students.

Use the same training methods I recommend for all dog breeds: strongly encourage the right behavior the second it happens, and rely on a sudden stoppage of social contact to punish the wrong behaviors. This will teach any dog how to avoid suddenly finding themselves alone, which is by far the best motivator. By comparison, cruel methods of punishment won’t get you the results you want anyway.

A few specific notes about various aspects of training a Maltese puppy:

  • Some people say that potty training / house training a Maltese puppy is a huge problem, but they’re really not so bad. You just have to do it right. I’ve written an article with several specific methods on house training a puppy, but the best one that gets results for me every time is to combine crate training with potty training. It’s important that you read the right ways to house train your Maltese puppy, instead of guessing, and that you be consistent. It gets results.
  • Since extreme hot and cold are bad for a Maltese puppy’s health, you might find yourself using an indoor toilet for your Maltese. I recommend the Wizdog Indor Dog Toilet, and have written an article on using one to toilet train a puppy.
  • Your Maltese puppy will have no trouble picking up all the basic obedience training commands, if they’re taught effectively.
  • Maltese puppies respond wonderfully to clicker training.
  • Three of the most common behavior problems with Maltese puppies are all covered in detail in my articles on inappropriate chewing, excessive barking, and eating dog poop. Those articles will help you figure out both how to prevent, and reverse these issues.

To get your Maltese puppy off to the best possible start, consider sending him or her to Puppy Kindergarten. In any case, you’ll be doing some training on your own at home – for which, I recommend a comprehensive guide to Clicker Training Your Maltese Puppy.

Return to the guide to training a dog at home, or the list of popular breeds.

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