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How To Care For A Maltese

Complete Guide to Caring for a Maltese: Grooming, Diet & More
Published Friday, May 31, 2024 by Elena R.

Caring for a Maltese dog can be a rewarding experience, but it comes with its own set of responsibilities. These charming little dogs, known for their long, silky white coats and friendly personalities, require specific care to keep them looking and feeling their best. If you're a new Maltese owner or just looking for some helpful tips, you've come to the right place. 

This guide will walk you through all the essential aspects of Maltese care, from grooming and feeding to exercise and health. With clear, easy-to-follow instructions, you'll learn how to keep your Maltese happy and healthy. So, let’s get started with everything you need to know about taking care of your adorable Maltese dog. 

Understanding the Maltese Breed 

Before we get into the specifics of caring for your Maltese, it's helpful to understand what makes this breed so special. Knowing their history, characteristics, and common behaviors can give you a better idea of how to meet their needs. 

History and Origin of the Maltese

a statue of a maltese dog

The Maltese breed has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. Originating from the Mediterranean island of Malta, these small dogs were beloved by aristocrats and royalty for their beauty and charm. They were often found in the laps of noblewomen in ancient cultures, symbolizing status and wealth. Over time, the Maltese became known for their companionship and were prized for their affectionate nature. 

RELATED: The History and Origins of the Maltese Dog 

Maltese Dog Characteristics and Temperament 

a playful maltese dog

Maltese dogs are small, typically weighing between 4 to 7 pounds, and they have a lifespan of 12-15 years when properly cared for. One of their most distinctive features is their long, silky white coat, which requires regular grooming to maintain. Beyond their physical appearance, Maltese dogs are renowned for their gentle and friendly demeanor. They are highly affectionate and enjoy being close to their owners, often seeking out cuddles and lap time. 

These dogs are also quite playful and energetic, despite their small size. They love engaging in activities and can be quite spirited during playtime. Their intelligence makes them relatively easy to train, as they respond well to positive reinforcement and enjoy learning new tricks. 

RELATED: The Best Pros and Cons of Owning a Maltese 

Common Traits and Behaviors of Maltese Dogs

Understanding the typical traits and behaviors of a Maltese can help you provide better care: 

  • Size: Small and lightweight 
  • Coat: Long and silky, white fur 
  • Temperament: Friendly, affectionate, and playful. 
  • Exercise Needs: Moderate. They don’t require extensive exercise but benefit from daily walks and playtime. 
  • Health: Generally healthy but can be prone to specific issues like dental problems and patellar luxation. 

RELATED: 5 Facts About the Maltese Dog We Guarantee You'll Love 

Grooming Your Maltese 

Grooming is a crucial aspect of caring for a Maltese. Their long, silky coats require regular maintenance to keep them looking their best and to prevent health issues. Here's a detailed guide to help you master the grooming routine for your Maltese. 

Brushing Techniques and Frequency 

a person brushing a maltese dog

Daily brushing is essential for a Maltese. Their fine, silky hair can easily become tangled and matted, which can be uncomfortable. Use a slicker brush or a metal comb designed for long-haired breeds. Start at the head and work your way down, making sure to gently untangle any knots. Be thorough but gentle to avoid causing discomfort. 

  • Daily Routine: Spend about 10-15 minutes each day brushing your Maltese to keep their coat smooth and tangle-free. 
  • Tools: A slicker brush for general grooming and a fine-toothed comb for tackling tougher knots. 

RELATED: 5 Easy Steps To Maltese Grooming 

Bathing Tips and Recommended Products For Maltese Dogs

a person giving a maltese dog a bath

Bathing your Maltese every 3-4 weeks helps keep their coat clean and shiny. Use a mild, dog-specific shampoo to avoid irritating their skin. Avoid human shampoos, as they can be too harsh for your dog’s sensitive skin. 

  • Preparation: Brush your Maltese before the bath to remove any tangles. 
  • Bathing Process: Use lukewarm water and apply the shampoo gently. Rinse thoroughly to ensure no residue is left, as this can cause skin irritation. 
  • Drying: Pat your Maltese dry with a soft towel. You can also use a blow dryer on a low, cool setting, but make sure not to hold it too close to avoid burns. 

RELATED: Grooming your Dog at Home Guide 

Maltese Ear Cleaning and Nail Trimming 

a person cleaning a maltese dog's ears

Regular ear cleaning and nail trimming are essential parts of your Maltese's grooming routine. Maltese dogs are prone to ear infections, so keeping their ears clean is crucial. 

  • Ear Cleaning: Use a vet-recommended ear cleaner and cotton balls. Gently wipe the outer part of the ear and avoid inserting anything into the ear canal. 
  • Frequency: Once a week or as needed if your Maltese has a history of ear problems. 
  • Nail Trimming: Overgrown nails can cause discomfort and health issues. Use a dog nail clipper and trim the tips of the nails, being careful not to cut into the quick (the sensitive part of the nail). 
  • Frequency: Every 2-3 weeks, depending on how quickly your dog’s nails grow. If you hear them clicking on the floor, it’s time to trim. 

Managing Tear Stains in Maltese

a person wiping a Maltese dog's face

Tear stains are common in Maltese dogs and can be unsightly if not managed properly. These stains are usually caused by excessive tearing, which can be due to various factors, including diet and genetics. 

  • Daily Cleaning: Use a damp cloth or a tear stain remover wipe to clean the area around your Maltese’s eyes daily. 
  • Products: There are specific products available that can help reduce tear staining. Consult your vet for recommendations on safe and effective tear stain removers. 

RELATED: A Guide to the Best Maltese Haircuts 

Nutrition and Diet For Maltese

a maltese dog surrounded by food

Feeding your Maltese a balanced diet is essential for their health and well-being. Proper nutrition supports their energy levels, coat condition, and overall vitality. Here's what you need to know about the Maltese’s dietary needs and feeding habits. 

Nutritional Needs of a Maltese 

Maltese dogs have specific nutritional requirements that must be met to keep them healthy. Their diet should be rich in high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. 

  • Protein: Look for dog food where meat is the first ingredient. Protein supports muscle maintenance and overall health. 
  • Fats: Healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, are crucial for maintaining a healthy coat and skin. 
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Ensure the diet includes essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health, including calcium for strong bones and antioxidants for immune support. 

RELATED: 11 Human Foods You Can Feed Your Dog 

Best Dog Food Options for Maltese 

Selecting the right dog food is critical. Choose a premium brand that meets the nutritional guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). 

  • Dry Kibble: Look for high-quality dry kibble specifically formulated for small breeds. 
  • Wet Food: Occasionally, you might supplement with wet food for added moisture and variety. Ensure it’s balanced and complements their primary diet. 
  • Homemade Diets: If you prefer a homemade diet, consult with your vet or a pet nutritionist to ensure it’s balanced and meets all of your Maltese's nutritional needs. 

RELATED: Puppy Feeding 101: A Comprehensive Guide for Raising a Healthy Pup 

Maltese Feeding Schedule and Portion Control 

Maintaining a consistent feeding schedule helps regulate your Maltese’s metabolism and prevent overeating. 

  • Frequency: Feed your Maltese two to three small meals a day. This helps maintain their energy levels throughout the day and prevents hypoglycemia, which small breeds can be prone to. 
  • Portion Sizes: The amount you feed will depend on their age, weight, and activity level. Typically, an adult Maltese needs about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of high-quality dry food per day, divided into meals. Puppies may require more frequent, smaller meals. 

Foods to Avoid 

Certain foods are harmful to dogs and should be avoided to prevent health issues. 

  • Toxic Foods: Avoid chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and anything containing xylitol (a common sweetener). These can be toxic to dogs. 
  • High-Fat Foods: Foods that are high in fat can lead to pancreatitis and other health problems. 
  • Table Scraps: Human food can upset your Maltese’s digestive system and contribute to obesity. Stick to dog-specific treats and foods. 

RELATED: 10 Human Foods You Should Never Feed Your Dog 

Exercise and Activity For Maltese Dogs

a maltese dog running on grass

Keeping your Maltese active is essential for their physical and mental health. Regular exercise helps prevent obesity, promotes cardiovascular health, and provides mental stimulation. Here’s how to ensure your Maltese gets the right amount of exercise and activity. 

Exercise Requirements for Maltese Dogs 

a maltese dog being walked on a leash by a person

Maltese dogs, while small, are energetic and playful. They don’t require as much exercise as larger breeds, but they still need regular activity to stay healthy. 

  • Daily Exercise: Aim for at least 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. This can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day. 
  • Types of Exercise: Include a mix of walks, playtime, and mental stimulation activities to keep your Maltese engaged. 

Fun Activities and Games For Your Maltese

a maltese dog playing fetch outdoors

Engaging your Maltese in fun activities and games is a great way to meet their exercise needs and strengthen your bond. 

  • Walks: Daily walks are essential. They provide physical exercise and allow your Maltese to explore new sights and smells, which is great for mental stimulation. Make sure to use a harness rather than a collar to protect their delicate neck. 
  • Fetch: Playing fetch with a small ball or toy can be a great way to exercise your Maltese. It’s also a fun way to bond and train your dog. 
  • Puzzle Toys: Puzzle toys that dispense treats can keep your Maltese mentally stimulated. These toys challenge them to figure out how to get the treats, which can keep them occupied and engaged. 
  • Training Sessions: Incorporating short training sessions as part of their daily routine can provide both mental and physical exercise. Teach new tricks or practice obedience commands to keep their minds sharp. 

Tips for Keeping Your Maltese Active Indoors and Outdoors 

Whether indoors or outdoors, there are plenty of ways to keep your Maltese active. 


  • Interactive Toys: Provide a variety of toys, such as squeaky toys, chew toys, and interactive toys, to keep them entertained. 
  • Indoor Play: Set aside time each day for active play sessions indoors. This could include games of tug-of-war or hide-and-seek with their favorite toys. 
  • Training Drills: Use indoor space to practice training drills. This not only keeps them active but also reinforces good behavior. 


  • Safe Play Area: Ensure your Maltese has a secure, fenced area where they can run and play freely. 
  • Socialization: Take your Maltese to dog parks or arrange playdates with other small, friendly dogs. Socializing with other dogs can be a great way to burn off energy. 
  • Exploration Walks: Change up your walking route occasionally to keep things interesting. New environments offer different stimuli, which is great for their mental health. 

Maltese Health and Wellness 

a maltese dog being checked by a veterinarian

Maintaining your Maltese’s health is crucial for ensuring a long, happy life. Regular vet check-ups, preventive care, and attention to their well-being can help prevent many common health issues. Here’s how to keep your Maltese in top shape. 

Common Health Issues in Maltese Dogs 

Maltese dogs are generally healthy, but they can be prone to certain health problems. Being aware of these issues can help you take preventive measures and seek early treatment if necessary. 

  • Dental Problems: Maltese dogs are prone to dental issues, such as periodontal disease. Regular dental care is essential to prevent plaque buildup and tooth loss. 
  • Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. Regular vet check-ups can help detect and manage this issue early. 
  • Heart Disease: Some Maltese dogs are prone to heart problems, such as mitral valve disease. Regular vet visits are important for monitoring heart health. 
  • Hypoglycemia: Maltese puppies are particularly susceptible to low blood sugar levels. Frequent, small meals can help prevent hypoglycemia. 
  • Allergies: Maltese dogs can suffer from allergies that affect their skin and coat. Identifying and avoiding allergens, as well as following your vet’s recommendations, can help manage this issue. 

Preventive Care and Vaccinations 

a maltese dog getting vaccinated by a veterinarian

Preventive care is key to keeping your Maltese healthy. Regular vet visits and vaccinations can help protect against many common diseases. 

  • Vaccinations: Ensure your Maltese is up-to-date on all recommended vaccinations. This includes core vaccines, such as rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and adenovirus, as well as any non-core vaccines recommended by your vet based on your dog’s lifestyle. 
  • Flea and Tick Prevention: Use vet-recommended flea and tick preventatives to protect your Maltese from these parasites, which can carry diseases. 
  • Heartworm Prevention: Administer a monthly heartworm preventative as prescribed by your vet. 

Regular Vet Check-ups and Dental Care 

a maltese dog getting his teeth brushed by a person

Routine vet check-ups are essential for monitoring your Maltese’s health and catching any potential issues early. 

  • Annual Check-ups: Schedule a comprehensive vet exam at least once a year. For older Maltese dogs, bi-annual check-ups may be beneficial. 
  • Dental Care: Brush your Maltese’s teeth daily with a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste. Regular dental cleanings by your vet can also help maintain oral health. 

RELATED: Brushing Puppy Teeth: Essential Guide & Tips 

Recognizing Signs of Illness in Maltese

a maltese dog with a thermometer in its mouth

Being attentive to changes in your Maltese’s behavior and appearance can help you spot potential health issues early. 

  • Changes in Appetite: A sudden loss of appetite or excessive thirst can indicate a health problem. 
  • Lethargy: If your Maltese seems unusually tired or inactive, it may be a sign of illness. 
  • Coughing or Difficulty Breathing: Respiratory issues can be serious and require immediate veterinary attention. 
  • Digestive Issues: Vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation can signal digestive problems. 
  • Skin and Coat Changes: Itching, redness, hair loss, or unusual odors can indicate allergies or skin infections. 

RELATED: How Often Should I Take My Dog To The Vet? 

Maltese Training and Socialization 

a maltese dog standing on two legs

Proper training and socialization are essential for a well-behaved Maltese. These small dogs are intelligent and eager to please, and this makes them relatively easy to train. Here’s how to ensure your Maltese grows up to be a well-mannered and confident little companion. 

Basic Training Tips for Maltese Puppies 

Starting training early sets a strong foundation for good behavior. Use positive reinforcement techniques to encourage desired behaviors. 

  • Start Early: Begin training as soon as you bring your Maltese puppy home. Early training helps instill good habits and prevent bad behaviors from developing. 
  • Consistency: Be consistent with commands and routines. Use the same words and signals for commands to avoid confusing your puppy. 
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your Maltese with treats, praise, or playtime for good behavior. Positive reinforcement is effective and helps build a strong bond between you and your dog. 
  • Basic Commands: Focus on basic commands like sit, stay, come, and down. These commands are essential for your dog’s safety. 
  • Short Sessions: Keep training sessions short and engaging, around 5-10 minutes, to maintain your Maltese’s attention and enthusiasm. 

RELATED: How to Train a Puppy 

Importance of Socialization 

two maltese dogs running together on grass

Socialization is crucial for Maltese dogs to become well-adjusted and confident adults. Exposing them to various environments, people, and other animals helps prevent fearfulness and aggression. 

  • Early Exposure: Introduce your Maltese puppy to different people, places, and other animals during their early months. This exposure helps them become more adaptable and less anxious. 
  • Positive Experiences: Ensure all interactions are positive and non-threatening. Reward your Maltese for calm and friendly behavior during socialization. 
  • Puppy Classes: Enroll your Maltese in puppy socialization classes. These classes provide controlled environments for socialization and can also aid in basic training. 

RELATED: Mastering Puppy Socialization: Transform Your Pup into a Confident, Sociable Adult Dog 

Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Maltese Dogs

a maltese dog looking out the window

Maltese dogs can be prone to separation anxiety due to their strong attachment to their owners. Here’s how to manage and prevent it. 

  • Gradual Alone Time: Start by leaving your Maltese alone for short periods and gradually increase the duration. This helps them get used to being alone without becoming anxious. 
  • Comfort Items: Leave comforting items like a favorite toy or blanket when you’re away. These items can help soothe your Maltese and make them feel more secure. 
  • Calm Departures and Arrivals: Avoid making a big fuss when leaving or returning home. Calm and low-key departures and arrivals can help reduce anxiety. 
  • Training Exercises: Teach your Maltese that being alone is okay by practicing independence training. Use commands like “stay” while you move to another room, gradually increasing the distance and duration. 

RELATED: How to Treat Your Dog’s Separation Anxiety

Positive Reinforcement Techniques 

Using positive reinforcement is one of the most effective ways to train a Maltese. It helps build trust and encourages good behavior. 

  • Treats and Praise: Reward your Maltese immediately after they perform a desired behavior. Use small, tasty treats and enthusiastic praise. 
  • Timing: Ensure the reward is given immediately after the desired behavior to create a clear connection between the behavior and the reward. 
  • Consistency: Be consistent with rewards. Always acknowledge good behavior to reinforce it. 

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment For A Maltese

a maltese dog surrounded by a numerous family

Providing a safe and comfortable environment is essential for the well-being of your Maltese. This includes setting up a cozy living space, choosing the right accessories, and ensuring their safety both indoors and outdoors. Here’s how to create the perfect environment for your Maltese. 

Setting Up a Comfortable Living Space 

a maltese dog in an inside dog house

A well-organized and cozy living space can significantly enhance your Maltese’s quality of life. 

  • Designated Area: Choose a specific area in your home where your Maltese can relax and feel secure. This could be a quiet corner of a room or a dedicated pet space. 
  • Comfortable Bed: Provide a soft, supportive bed that is appropriately sized for your Maltese. Look for beds with removable, washable covers for easy cleaning. 
  • Bedding: Add soft blankets or towels to their bed for extra comfort. Ensure the bedding is kept clean and free from any irritants. 

Choosing the Right Bed and Toys for a Maltese

a maltese sitting in a dog bed surrounded by dog toys

Selecting the right bed and toys for your Maltese can make a big difference in their comfort and happiness. 

  • Bed Type: Consider orthopedic beds for older dogs or those with joint issues. For younger Maltese, a plush, cushiony bed works well. 
  • Toys: Provide a variety of toys to keep your Maltese entertained and mentally stimulated. Choose toys that are safe and appropriate for small breeds. Chew toys, squeaky toys, and puzzle toys are all great options. 
  • Rotation: Rotate toys regularly to keep your Maltese engaged and prevent boredom. 

Safety Tips for Maltese Owners 

a maltese dog running in a fenced yard

Keeping your Maltese safe is a top priority. Here are some tips to ensure their safety at home and during outings. 

  • Pet-Proofing Your Home: Ensure your home is safe for your Maltese by removing any hazards. Keep electrical cords out of reach, secure cabinets containing harmful substances, and ensure that small objects that can be swallowed are kept away. 
  • Supervision: Always supervise your Maltese when they are outside or in unfamiliar environments. Their small size makes them vulnerable to accidents and attacks from larger animals. 
  • Identification: Make sure your Maltese has proper identification, such as a collar with an ID tag and a microchip. This increases the chances of being reunited if they ever get lost. 
  • Secure Fencing: If you have a yard, ensure it is securely fenced to prevent your Maltese from escaping. Check for any gaps or weak spots in the fence. 
  • Travel Safety: When traveling by car, use a pet seatbelt or a secured crate to keep your Maltese safe. Never leave them unattended in a car, especially in extreme temperatures. 

Providing Mental and Emotional Comfort 

a maltese dog cuddling with its owners

Ensuring your Maltese feels mentally and emotionally secure is just as important as their physical comfort. 

  • Routine: Establish a consistent daily routine for feeding, walks, and playtime. Predictable schedules can help reduce anxiety and make your Maltese feel more secure. 
  • Companionship: Maltese dogs thrive on human interaction. Spend quality time with your Maltese each day to strengthen your bond and provide emotional support. 
  • Quiet Space: Provide a quiet, safe space where your Maltese can retreat if they feel overwhelmed or need to rest. 

Final Thoughts 

a cute maltese dog looking at the camera and winking

Caring for a Maltese involves regular grooming, a balanced diet, daily exercise, and proper training. These steps are essential to keeping your Maltese healthy and happy. Remember to provide a safe and comfortable environment for your dog and stay vigilant about their health with regular vet check-ups. Each Maltese has its own personality and needs, so pay attention to what makes your dog feel best. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure your Maltese lives a long, joyful life. 

Scroll down to see expert Q & A about caring for a Maltese.

Elena R.

About The Author

Elena is a leading expert in the field of dog behavior, care, and training, with over a decade of experience in writing about dogs. As a published writer and lifelong dog enthusiast, Elena currently shares her home with three beloved canine companions. She is dedicated to staying up to date on the latest advancements in dog care and training, ensuring that her articles provide readers with accurate and valuable insights. With her extensive knowledge and passion for all things canine, Elena's contributions to the Premier Pups community offer both expertise and authority on a wide range of dog-related topics.
Elena R. - Author Photo

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Groom My Maltese? Daily brushing and a bath every 3-4 weeks are recommended. Clean their ears weekly and trim their nails every 2-3 weeks.

What Is the Best Diet for a Maltese Dog? Feed high-quality dog food with meat as the first ingredient. Offer two to three small meals a day. Avoid toxic foods like chocolate, grapes, and onions.

How Much Exercise Does a Maltese Need? Aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise each day, including walks and playtime. Use interactive toys to keep them engaged.

How Can I Prevent Tear Stains on My Maltese? Wipe their eyes daily with a damp cloth. Ensure they have a high-quality diet and plenty of fresh water. Consult your vet if stains persist.

What Are the Common Health Issues in Maltese Dogs? Common issues include dental problems, patellar luxation, and heart disease. Regular vet check-ups and dental care are essential.

How Can I Train My Maltese Effectively? Use positive reinforcement with treats and praise. Be consistent with commands and routines. Early socialization is key.