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Maltese Behavior

It is important to understand the basic temperament and behavior of the Maltese, if you are thinking about bringing this breed into your home.

You will want to make sure that this breed fits well into your family and your life style.

If you are already a Maltese owner, it is important to know the basic temperament and needs of the Maltese breed dog that may clear up any questions you have regarding personality and behavior.

Without the proper environment, behavioral issues may occur.

Maltese behaviorThe Maltese is an Indoor Dog

This is an important aspect of this breed.   Under no circumstances should a Maltese be left out in the yard for any longer than they need to eliminate and perhaps run around for 5 to 10 minutes.  This is a very sensitive breed that can quickly overheat.  The Maltese has been bred for centuries to be an inside dog and nothing is going to change that now!

This breed will be happy in a small apartment or a huge sprawling farm house, as long as they are given their needed essentials.  The Maltese is not spoiled, they simply require a very comfortable environment.   This dog should have their own quiet area to eat, a very comfortable dog bed to rest and sleep and a play area where they can always depend on knowing where they toys are.  This is also important when it comes to teething and chewing issues.

A Family Dog?

While the Maltese may be famous for its long and elegant coat that can be grown for a "show dog" look, don't let this fool you!  This dog breed is fabulous as a family pet.   Most Maltese dogs are extremely playful and love children.  They thrive on attention and interaction.  While the Maltese will also be happy with just 1 owner, if enough attention is paid to them, they will get along with children and also other pets.  The only important element to keep in mind is the size of this dog.  With an adult full grown weight of just 7 pounds ( 3.17 kg) children must be taught to play carefully.  Rough play and wrestling play can be dangerous to this fragile dog.  Owners must also always be on guard for a Maltese under their feet.  Often following their human family members around the house, too many small breed dogs have been accidentally stepped on or tripped over.  This has caused broken bones or worse! 

The Maltese must also be properly socialized.  A puppy does not enter the world understanding the rules of interaction.  Once a Maltese is trained in socialization, they will be happy and content. 

Behavioral Issues

One of the most common and frustrating behavioral issues is when a Maltese dog eats feces. Learn more about this in detail in our Eating Feces Section

There can also be issues with barking and in some cases, severe barking.


Nipping can be frustrating to an owner, when you want to play with your puppy their nipping "nips" playtime!  When a young puppy nips, this can be due to teething which is a temporary phase.  However, this can also be a pup's method of play which they consider to be acceptable if not show otherwise by you.

When a puppy is very young and with its littermates, a lot of "rough housing" and nipping occurs.  The way in which a little pup learns that a nip is too hard is that their brother or sister lets out a fast loud "YELP".  This immediately teaches that puppy that their nipping was not appreciated and they learn to stop.

The same method must be applied when your Maltese is nipping you.  If you act as if it hurt very much and you are not happy, they will learn to stop.  This is best done by letting out a fast and loud "OUCH ! ".  Then, retract your hand (or foot, etc) and act very sad.  Walk away and ignore your pup for a few minutes. 

Any time that you play with your dog and they do not nip you, great praise must be given to reinforce to the dog that  they are begin very good.

This must be done every time your puppy nips at you. If only done once and a while, the dog will have no idea what is expected.  After approximately 3 days to 2 weeks, your Maltese will learn that nipping = you being hurt and zero attention and that not nipping = praise, lots of attention and fun.

Attention Issues

The Maltese requires attention; this is basically inbred into the dog. While no owner can spend every moment with their dog,  separation anxiety can occur if a Maltese is left alone for too long with out planning.  This can cause major turmoil in the home.  Luckily, there are steps that you can take to help with this.   Most importantly, one should not bring a Maltese home unless they:
  • Have plenty of time to lavish on the dog
  • Have the motivation and time to implement training and separation anxiety guidelines


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