The Bichon Maltese is a very small, intelligent, cheerful and energetic dog. Ideal as a companion animal, especially for the youngest members of the household. It is considered one of the oldest known breeds. Thanks to its playful character, it is usually a very common dog in families with children.
- General Build: The physical appearance of the Bichon Maltese is characterized by its small size, silky white fur, short and muscular legs, long floppy ears, dark round eyes with an alert expression, and a medium-length tail with thick fur.
- Coat: One of the most striking features of the Maltese is its long coat, which can reach the ground if not regularly trimmed.
- As mentioned earlier, it is white and silky, smooth, and fine, draping on either side of the body from a central line extending from the nose to the tail.
- They do not shed and have no undercoat, which is why they are considered hypoallergenic.
- Weight and Height: They weigh between 6.6 to 8.8 lbs and stand at a height of 7.9 to 9.8 inches at the withers.
- Color: The coat is necessarily pure white or ivory, with only some traces of cream color allowed.
The Bichon Maltese is an intelligent dog with an alert disposition.
It is affectionate, sociable, and calm. It generally appears cheerful and friendly, always ready to play and engage with its owners and other animals.
It is a smart and intuitive little companion, eager to spend time with its family.
It is playful and dynamic, making it a great companion. What makes it happiest is being in the company of its owners and receiving affection.
This breed is highly recommended for families with children or individuals seeking an affectionate companion.
It’s worth noting that this dog tends to feel distressed when left alone at home, as it thrives on being around its family.
Apartment Living: This small breed adapts well to apartment living as long as it receives playtime and walks. When its activity needs are met, the Maltese simply wants to be with its owners.
Tolerance of Solitude: As previously mentioned, the Maltese does not tolerate being left alone for extended periods and may experience anxiety and develop destructive behavior.
Watchdog: This breed is typically alert and will always alert you to any anomalies it detects in its surroundings through barking. While it may not be a guard dog due to its small size, it excels as a watchdog.
Living with Children: Maltese Bichons generally enjoy playing with children. However, it’s important that children learn how to interact with them, respecting when the dog is tired or needs to rest and handling them gently. Given their small size, they may be wary of rough or careless children.
Relationship with Other Pets: It’s important to socialize your Bichon Maltese with other animals, especially larger ones, as their small size might make them perceive larger dog breeds as threats. However, they are generally sociable and have no issues socializing with other pets.
Playful: In general, they are very sociable and playful, and they usually have no problems getting along with other pets.
Learning: Maltese Bichons enjoy pleasing their owners, which makes them highly motivated to learn. You can teach them tricks like standing on their hind legs, doing tricks, and shaking paws, which they’ll approach as a fun and enjoyable game.
Training: Always use positive reinforcement to train your Bichon Maltese, rewarding desired behaviors. Punishing or being harsh with them is counterproductive, as they are sensitive dogs, and it will only instill fear and mistrust. House training might be a bit more challenging, but there are tricks to teach them to go potty on a pad or in a designated area. Don’t despair; you can find articles on our blog on potty training.
Lifespan: Maltese Bichons are generally in good health, strong, and robust, with an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Daily Walks and Activities: Maltese Bichons love going for walks with their owners and exploring new scents and spaces.
Due to their small size, 1 or 2 daily walks are generally sufficient, although they would love to accompany their owner wherever they go.
Coat Care: Regarding their coat, you can choose to keep your Maltese with a long and shiny mane, but it requires good care.
You can also opt for a shorter puppy cut, which is easier to maintain and looks great. Avoid shaving them because their white skin is sensitive and could get sunburned.
- For long manes, daily brushing with the right brush or comb is essential. Consult your trusted veterinarian or canine groomer for advice on the appropriate grooming tools and products such as oils to keep the coat tangle-free and shiny. Consistent care is crucial to prevent knots and tangles, especially if you plan to show your dog.
- For short manes, a puppy cut is ideal, and brushing is needed about 3 times per week.
Pros and Cons
Advantages of Bichon Maltese:
- The Bichon Maltese is a perfect companion animal, affectionate, devoted, and playful.
- It adapts well to apartment living.
- It makes an excellent family companion.
Disadvantages of Bichon Maltese:
- If left alone for long periods, it may become unhappy. If you are away from home all day, consider a less dependent, small breed from our selection.
- Their coat requires daily brushing to prevent tangles, and the area around their eyes needs daily cleaning to prevent tear stains.
- They need at least two daily walks for exercise.
The Bichon Maltese is generally a healthy and robust breed, but they can be prone to a few common health issues:
- Patellar Luxation: To prevent this, maintain a healthy weight for your dog and provide regular exercise to strengthen the muscles around the kneecap.
- Eye Irritation: They may experience eye irritation, such as conjunctivitis and increased tear production. Daily eye care with a dog-specific eye cleanser is recommended. Always consult your veterinarian.
Don’t forget to provide them with dental chews to clean their teeth periodically, as this breed is prone to tartar buildup.
History and Origin
The origins of the Bichon Maltese are not entirely clear, but it is believed that the ancestors of this breed were spread across the Mediterranean by Phoenician merchants from ancient Egypt more than 2000 years ago.
According to the FCI, the name “Maltese” may have come from maritime places like the Adriatic island of Melita, an ancient name for Malta. However, the term “Maltese” is thought to be derived from the Semitic word “malat,” meaning port or refuge.
In the 15th century, they became popular among French aristocrats and were introduced to the British Isles during the reign of Henry VIII, becoming pets of nobility and royalty.
After the Middle Ages, the breed almost disappeared, and crosses with other small dog breeds like poodles were carried out.
In the 19th century, there were up to nine different Maltese breeds. The
FCI recognized the Bichon Maltese in 1955, and its latest standard was published in 2015.
It falls under Group 9: Companion and Toy Dogs, Section 1: Bichons and related breeds. The American Kennel Club recognized it in 1888, and the last standard was established in 1964.
- Their popularity skyrocketed in the 1960s when Frank Sinatra gifted Marilyn Monroe a Maltese puppy named ‘Maf.’
- They retain the hunting instinct of their ancestors, who were tasked with catching rats and mice in the holds of ships and warehouses in coastal cities in Central Asia.
- They have a high life expectancy, with an average of 12 to 15 years, and some have been known to live up to 19 years.