Every owner and potential owner wants to know about the accurate and expected size of their Maltese...and we feel that all owners and potential owners should know what size their puppy will be and then what to expect in terms of growth as the pup matures into adult.
When you have a pet, the expected weight and height is important. If you are currently thinking about adding a pet into your household, you will want to make sure that the breed is one that you can easily accommodate.....If you are already an owner, you will want to know that your Maltese is growing at a good rate....and that once he or she is an adult, they are not underweight nor overweight.
Some owners worry about their dog being too small....or in some cases too large...They worry that their dog is either not receiving enough calories...or is perhaps eating too much and the size is due to excess calories as opposed to bone structure and normal body mass.
Understanding What the Breed Standard Weight Means
Per AKC breed standards, Maltese size (when growing is done and the dog is an adult) is between 4 -7 lbs (1.81 - 3.18 kg). This is a small stature and this is why this breed is classified as a Toy. Now, with this being said, even though this is the expected range for conformation, there will be dogs who are a bit smaller and there will be those who are a bit larger.
For purebreds, stature mostly depends on genetics (although diet, exercise and health play a role...more on this ahead). Generally speaking, a pup will grow to be very close to the size of his or her parents (the dam and the sire).
When breeding properly, the female (dam) should be larger than the male (sire). This is done to help the female with pregnancy...her hips and pelvic area will be slightly larger....and this gives her a better chance of being able to deliver naturally as opposed to Cesarean. Being closer to the 7 pounds, she will be more sturdy, bones are larger, etc...and this and more helps her carry her litter throughout pregnancy.
While you can look to the parents to get a good idea of adult weight, one must also remember that genetic traits such as size go back as far as 5 generations (and in some cases even further back than that). Breeders are aware of this and will pair 2 dogs together with this in mind. They will look into the lineage of 3 to 5 generations back to ensure a good match and better chance of expected litter.
With the size range expected to be between 4 and 7 pounds, if a dog is eating well, is active and happy, one should not be concerned if he or she is at the 4 pound range. If an adult dog is in the 2 to 3 pound range, this is when an owner should be somewhat concerned regarding possible health issues that can occur....
Smaller than expected size can be due to poor breeding practices....It can happen when some tries to produce "Miniature Maltese", which is not a recognized breed....They are dogs who are purposely bred to be smaller than nature intended....and they often have related health issues.
If someone has a 2 to 3 pound dog, they should also look to possible nutritional causes....Allergies & stomach ailments are 2 top reasons why a dog may not be eating as they need to be, thus not gaining weight as needed and in the end, not being as large as they should be. If you are a concerned owner, it is best to consult an experienced, reputable veterinarian who will be able to tell you if your dog has standard bone structure or if any issues are due to genetics.
Smaller than average dogs will need to be watched even more than normal. Bones will be smaller, more fragile. This can easily lead to problems such as luxating patella or hip dysplasia (slipped knee cap or slipped hip & joint socket). When this happens, it most often occurs when the dog jumps from too high of a height. 2-3 pound Maltese should not be allowed to jump down from the sofa, bed, etc. If the dog likes to be on furniture, one method of preventing possible injury is to place pet ramps for him or her to use.
While all owners are strongly encouraged to use a harness and not a collar when walking or any time that the dog is on leash, this is particularly important when Maltese size is smaller than expected. The neck area will be especially vulnerable to injury.....when on leash if he or she jumps forward and the leash goes taunt, it can put all of the pressure on his or her neck....and a collapsed trachea can be the result. To dramatically reduce the odds of this happening, it is recommended to use a harness....it distributes any pressure across the back, shoulders and chest, thus greatly decreasing the chances for this type of injury.
Larger Than Expected
When Maltese size is over 7 pounds, it is natural for an owner to be concerned. It should be noted that 7 pounds is the high end of the AKC conformation standard...Therefore if you are not planning on showing your dog in conformation events, there is no need to worry if he or she is at the 8 or even 9 pound range.
One should pay attention however if a Maltese is over 9 pounds....While it can be genetic, there is also the possibility that the dog is overweight. This can cause many problems....it puts stress on the heart, stress on the dog's bones and so much more. To any owners who have a dog that is 9 pounds or over, we always recommend a complete veterinary checkup. If the Maltese size is found to be due to genetics, one may be a bit frustrated that their dog is well over the expected size and feel as if they were misled by the breeder (Sometimes it is due to poor breeding practices...and sometimes it can be a quirk...a genetic gene passed down from generations back that the breeder could not have predicted).
If being larger than the standard is due to being overweight, a slow yet steady diet and exercise program will usually be recommended. It would be extremely unhealthy for a Maltese to lose weight too quickly. In most cases, one will want to have a loss of 1 pound per month be the goal.
This can be accomplished by cutting down on snacks between meals and being aware of how much fat and other unhealthy elements are in the dinners. This is one reason why we strongly advise home cooking...you can read much more about the advantages of home cooking here.
Another element will be exercise...and it will be important not to overwork the dog. Even 9 or 10 pounds is a small size and one cannot expect too much....A rapid increase in exercise can just put too much strain on the dog's bones (particularly the knees and hips)...he or she can also become dehydrated quickly or have heart strain. For these reasons and more, it is usually recommended that an owner simply add 10-15 minutes to the daily walk. While one will not want to run for the entire time, one should be careful not to saunter....walking should be done at a brisk pace.
Average height will be between 8 - 10 inches (20.32 - 25.4 cm). One must remember that this height is measured from the floor up to the dog's shoulders.....Therefore, if you were to include the head, height could range between 13-17 inches.