Adding a Maltese Dog to Your Family

Family Life with a Maltese

Maltese make good family dogs for families with older children. This dog makes a tiny, cuddly companion and loves attention. They are known to have plenty of energy and be very playful. The Maltese prefer enclosed spaces and does well in small yards and even in apartments or townhouses.

Due to their small size, the Maltese is physically very fragile. This is why the breed is not recommended for young children. Accidently stepping on the dog, or sitting on your Maltese can cause the dog broken bones and other serious injuries.

A Maltese requires plenty of socialization as a puppy to feel comfortable in a variety of social situations. This breed may bark and snap at young children, because the dog does not understand children’s quick movements, noises, or indirect rough play (like pulling ears and tails).

When inadequately socialized to the family’s daily routine, the Maltese may become anxious when left alone. Separation anxiety causes the dog to manifest many destructive behaviours when the family is out of the house.

This breed is often brought to shelters or abandon by owners who can not tolerate their barking, their snappiness with young children or their separation anxiety issues.

Before getting your family a Maltese, make sure your family can tolerate the Maltese’s behaviour for both the good and the bad personality quirks. It is unfair to the dog and children to break hearts when the dog is not the right fit for your family.

These dogs are known to be hypoallergenic and can be more pleasant for people who are normally allergic to animals. This breed requires daily grooming of their fur and coat.

It is a great opportunity for children to take on age-appropriate tasks of responsibility. These dogs also get tear-stained fur around their eyes on a daily basis and need daily eye cleaning. Caring and grooming your Maltese helps promote bonding between your family and your dog.

Maltese Breed History

The Maltese dog is believed to have originated from the Central Mediterranean Area, from the island – Malta, where the dog was a companion to noble women.

The Maltese was specially bred to achieve its tiny size. In the 17th and 18th century the breed was made even smaller so that the dogs were about the size of a squirrel. The breed traveled with the nomadic tribes through Europe and the Middle East where the dog protected the people from rodents.

In 1888, the purebred Maltese was recognized by the American Kennel Club. This little dog has a classic “halo” effect around the eyes, meaning the dark eyes are surrounded by darker skin pigmentation. The Maltese’s nose can become pink or brown in winter, “winter nose” and darken in the summer as a result of sun exposure.

In recent years, the Maltese has been bred with Poodles, Pugs and Shih Tzus to accomplish more desirable and social traits such as being smaller, more friendly, and shed as little as possible.

Maltese Health

Although most Maltese are healthy, the breed is susceptible to some specific health issues. Some health issues that can affect the Maltese breed are:

Luxating Patella – Or sliding knee cap, causes pain when walking. Treated with surgery.

Liver Shunt– When the blood circulates abnormally and bypasses the liver which is important for detoxifying and cleaning the blood. Treatable through diet, medication and surgery. This condition can also cause the dog to become anemic, if treatment and diagnosis are delayed.

Eyes infections from inadequate cleaning, or infrequent cleaning.

Some people chose to monitor their dog’s health with the FitBark, a wearble, discreet device worn on the dog’s collar that constantly monitors your dog’s activity, sleep and nutrition, and is breed specific. The FitBark pairs easily with your Fitbit, Apple Watch, HealthKit or Google Fit device to monitor progress. Researchers and veterinarians have developed a unique algorithm to provide you with real-time, quantitative data on your dog’s health. Great for finding out how your dog really feels and eases communication during veterinarian follow up appointments.

Developing a strong relationship with a trusted veterinarian is important to maximize the health of your Maltese.