The Maltese is a sweet, lively dog with a reputation for intelligence. This toy breed is marked by alert, dark eyes and a silky, white, single coat that lies flat and hangs to the ground unless clipped for ease of care. The Maltese breed originated on the Mediterranean island of Malta, and is believed to have descended from 2,000 years of pampered lap dogs kept by nobility there. Despite their tiny size, Maltese are playful, high-energy dogs. With proper training, they can be great pets for families and for people who live in apartments or small houses with limited space outdoors.
Maltese dogs typically are lively and spirited, and they keep their playful personalities well into maturity. The affectionate Maltese is among the gentlest of the toy breeds. They are devoted to their masters and love attention. Many Maltese can't handle being left alone for long, and they often exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety, including barking and chewing items in the home.
Although Maltese generally love children, many breeders don't recommend these dogs for homes with very young kids. At 5 to 7 inches high and only 4 to 7 pounds as adults, Maltese are so small that young children frequently injure them while playing with them. While these dogs are very affectionate with their owners, they can be a little shy around strangers. They make good watchdogs; they are always alert and will definitely notify you when someone is at the door. Despite their diminutive size and innocent appearance, Maltese can be quite feisty and bold. Although generally friendly to other animals, Maltese must be watched to prevent them from challenging dogs much larger than themselves.
Intelligence and Training
These intelligent little dogs can learn training commands quite quickly, but Maltese also can be a bit stubborn. For training, it is best to have dog treats in your hand, ready to reward your dog quickly for good behavior. Maltese can be difficult to housebreak, especially if you live in a wet or cold climate. This small Mediterranean dog really doesn't like damp or chilly weather. Many owners find it best to give a Maltese an indoor litter box or a covered outdoor potty area.
While Maltese don't require much outdoor exercise, they still enjoy romping in the backyard and going along on short walks. They are small enough that they can be playful indoors without causing much damage. If you play with your Maltese about 10 minutes a day, your dog should have sufficient exercise.
If you are overindulgent and overprotective of your Maltese, your dog might grow to be jealous of any visitors. Jealous Maltese typically act out by obsessively barking, and might even become aggressive with non-family members.