Call us: 555-555-5555


Maltese Behavior



The Maltese is typically a happy dog, often quite eager, alert, and very active for his size.

This is a breed that seems to be very aware that he is considered a lap dog, as many tend to expect to be a bit spoiled. There may be some stubbornness or intolerance in regard to a few aspects. 

A Maltese is the right dog for you if you want a pet that keeps you busy and on your toes. Whether this is with grooming, spending time with him, choosing just the right toys, or having him right by your side while you are focused with things around the house, you cannot ignore the presence of a Maltese. 

Here, we'll go over some details of what is often seen with this breed. 

Expected Behavior for Maltese Puppies and Adults

Sleep: It is normal for new puppies to sleep upward of 19 to 20 hours. Though, even with all of this sleeping, a pup may not sleep right through the night. It can be several weeks before he is accustomed to his new home to snooze through until the AM. 

As a Maltese matures over the course of his first year toward adulthood, he will sleep less. Including both naps and overnight, adults take in a total of 12 to 14 hours. 

Energy Levels: Puppies are quite hyper. It is very normal for them to be so revved up that they cannot seem to calm themselves. They may romp around well passed the time that you'd thought that they would, and then sink down for a nap with barely a warning. 

Maltese puppies may seem a bit demanding, always wanting to play, be seen, be heard, and be interacted with. While you will want to spend a good amount of time with your Maltese, which is important for good bonding and for teaching lessons, it will also be important to allow your puppy to play independently. 
For this, you will want to have a great toy collection that includes toys that draw the pup in and hold his attention. Those that speak or make silly noises like the Pet Qwerks Talking Babble Ball Dog Toy are often great for this. As well as treat dispensing toys. 

As a Maltese matures, he will calm down quite a bit and not be so hyper. Though, he will still be an alert, active dog. 
There are some elements that can cause a Maltese to seem lethargic with low energy levels or otherwise withdrawn. Changes to the household can trigger this, as well as issues with lack of stimulation. In all cases, health issues should not be ruled out. 
Releasing Pent-up Energy: Like most toy breeds that have a lot going on inside a little body, some behavioral issues can develop if a Maltese does not have a healthy release for his energy. This breed should be walked twice per day, for at least 20 minutes, and at a pace that is brisk for the puppy or dog.

Some session of cardio are always welcomed as well, such as a short game of fetch or other interaction that involves running.

Once a Maltese has had his fill of exercise, he will tend to be able to relax and feel fine in the house. But, without this sort of energy expenditure, restless behavior can develop.
This can manifest as excessive barking, pacing, destructive chewing, and a general disobedience. 
A Need for Company: The Maltese is a dog that loves to interact with his humans and have someone close by. 

While he may seem to be in his own world sometimes, he is happy when he knows that a treat or a pat can be immediately available, should he want it.

So, when a Maltese needs to be left at home when owners are away at work, this can lead to trouble coping.

Separation anxiety, which encompasses feelings of isolation and stress from being alone, is common with this breed. 

Fortunately, there are quite a few things that you can do to help a Maltese when home alone for the day. 
It is usually a combination of things that will all work together to establish a comforting environment. 

This includes not allowing a Maltese to have free reign in the house and instead, creating an area that will be interpreted as a secure 'den'. This is never done with a crate, as these are terribly confining and only add to a dog's stress level.

What does work wonderfully is a nice sized indoor playpen, like the IRIS 24'' 4-Panel Pet Playpen with Door. It has enough room for a Maltese to move around and play.
Other important elements involve making sure that there is background noise (TV, radio, or CDs specifically for dogs), having your Maltese equipped with some 'stay busy', treat-release, and companion toys, and making sure to leave lights on. 
Behavior Around other Dogs: If raised in a house with other canines, a Maltese can get along with them quite well; though he may always need to have his own space for resting and to retreat as desired. 

This breed tends to be a bit wary of unknown dogs, and may react by barking or by trying to remove themselves from the situation. 

Behavior with Cats: Just about all toys sized dog and cat combinations need to be done with care. When having one and wanting to bring the other into the home, this should be tested first by seeing if the dog or cat tolerates the other. 

Keeping the cat's food and litter box out of reach from a Maltese is often needed. 
Barking: This breed is dubbed by many to be a 'yapper' and you may hear stories of Maltese dogs being abandoned at alarming rates in certain areas of the world. However, Maltese do not bark any more than other dogs of his size and energy level.

This said, some do tend to be very vocal; if so, there are steps you can take to help cut down on how much a Maltese barks. This includes interruption (via a loud hand clap or behavior interrupter device) and then a refocus to another activity, such as playtime with an interesting toy. While he will still let himself be heard, things can often be quelled to an acceptable level. 
In addition, some dogs do just great at home, but act out in public. One of the most common scenarios, is when a Maltese seems to dislike people encountered along the way while out on walks. Fortunately, there is training that can help with this. 
Shy Behavior: It can surprise some owners to see their Maltese acting timid, since the breed in general is very outgoing. However, each dog is unique and will have their own personality. Some Maltese may be on the shy side, a bit weary of new situations, people, and even sounds. 

Often, with a gradual introduction to new things, a Maltese can adjust and become accustomed to things. This said, each dog does have their limits. For example, you may find that your Maltese learns to do well walking on sidewalks with you, but draws the line at being in large crowds. 

Adjustments can always be made, such as using a canine stroller, or even a canine sling bag like the i'Pet Hands-free Small Dog Carry Sling which is a fun and comfortable method of keeping a Maltese up high by your side. 
two Maltese dogs

There are lots of options, but only a few brands that meet the needs of this small toy dog that can be sensitive to additives that cause issues including upset stomach and poor skin and coat health. 
two Maltese dogs

There are a lot of parts that all come together for optimum comfort, health, safety, and happiness.

This is a great round-up of all the important elements of feeding, grooming, coat care, and more.
Are You a PetMaltese Member Yet?

Become a free Member to receive newsletters alerting you to new articles. You will also be able to submit a photo of your Maltese to be added to the site. 
Share by: