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Maltese Size


If you are an owner of this wonderful breed, or a potential owner, no doubt you want to know about the accurate and expected size of Maltese dogs. And it is normal to worry about size, both when a Maltese is a puppy and when he is an adult. 

You'll want to know if your Maltese is growing at a good rate, and that once he is at his adult size, that he is neither under or overweight.

It's very common to be concerned about a Maltese being too small and perhaps not taking in enough nutrition. And though it happens far less often, there are some Maltese that can really surprise owners by being much larger than expected. 

Understanding Maltese Breed Size Standards

Per AKC breed standards, in regard to weight, expected Maltese size (as a full-grown adult dog) is under 7 lbs. (3.17 kg). 

This means any weight from 6.9 lbs. (3.12 kg) and less.

This said, it is nearly impossible for an adult Maltese to be in the 1-pound range. It is also very rare for a Maltese to be in the 2-pound range. You may see this every now and again; however, it is the exception and not the rule. 

Therefore, most Maltese will be 3 to 7 lbs. as adults. 

However, the 'under 7 lb.' range is for dogs appearing in the show ring. And it is a guideline for breeders in regard to their goals, as they strive to produce pups that meet the strict AKC standards. 

So, it is not unheard of for some Maltese to be 7, 8 or even 9 pounds. 
Blossom Sweet Honey, at 8 months old
Photo courtesy of Kim Morris, New Britain CT 
In regard to height, which is an important size factor as well, there is no standard height. However, most male Maltese will be 8 to 10 inches (21 to 25 cm). And most female Maltese, since they tend to have slightly smaller bone structure, will be 8 to 9 inches. This measurement is from the floor to the withers (top of the shoulder blades). 

Because some Maltese dogs can be slightly larger than expected, this would bring the possible height to 11 inches (27.94 cm). 

Size Classification

Being less than 7 pounds, the Maltese is classified as a toy breed dog. There are 21 dogs in the AKC toy group. Some breeds can be almost as small as toys, but are in other groups, such as the Terrier group. 

Of the 21 toy sized dogs, the Maltese is one of the smallest. He is very comparable to the Chihuahua, which has a weight of 6 lbs. and under, and an unofficial height that ranges between 6 and 9 inches, which is similar to the Maltese's 8 to 10 inches.
Cubbie, at 1.5 years old, photo courtesy of Amy Jo

Undersized Maltese

Though there is no minimum size for the Maltese dog, it is almost anatomically impossible for an adult to be just 1 pound, and very rare but possible to be 2 pounds.

There are lots of Maltese that are toward the lower end of the range, just in the 3 or 4-pound range. These smaller dogs may be referred to as teacup Maltese, however this is not an official variation or type. There is just one Maltese breed. 

Being very small, there can be some care concerns. 

Cold intolerance - Having a single coat of hair, this breed already can struggle a bit with keeping warm during chilly or cold weather. And even drafts inside the house can call out for a soft sweater or an extra blanket.

However, very tiny Maltese often get chilled even faster. 
You'll want to be careful in choosing the spot where your Maltese sleeps, rests, and where he lies down to play. Check for drafts by getting down to floor level. And if your puppy or dog tends to shiver, place some some warm clothing on him, such as the adorable Zack & Zoey Cotton Polo Shirt in size extra-small.
Hypoglycemia - This refers to a rapid drop in blood sugar levels. Puppies in general are very prone to this, as are very small dogs. Signs include dizziness, trouble walking, a 'drunken' gait, confusion, and/or sleepiness. Moderate to severe cases can be dangerous and therefore should be considered an emergency situation and treated by the vet.

For minor cases, offering a dab of honey rubbed onto the gums, or a bit of Nutrical can bring sugar levels back to normal. 
Size related injury - Trauma is the leading cause of death for all puppies in general, and this is always a top concern for toy breed dogs that are sized very small like the Maltese. 
You will want to take extra care to always keep your Maltese in a certified canine car seat when driving him (a booster seat is best), be very aware of where he is at all times so that he is not accidentally stepped on, and never hold him while attempting to multitask if you need to use your hands for other tasks. If you are busy doing things, but want your Maltese up near you, use a cute and cozy sling like the i'Pet Hands-free Small Dog Carry Sling.

Larger Than Expected Maltese Dogs

Though this is generally a tiny sized dog, this is not to say that a Maltese cannot be over-sized. And it is not unusual for owners with big Maltese to have trouble finding information about this.

In fact, with breeds that are 'supposed' to be very little, it almost seems as if talking about overweight or exceptionally large dogs is taboo. 

However, being much larger than expected can be contributed to 1 of 2 things:

1) Breeding practices. If a Maltese is a purebred, and he is 9, 10 or even 11+ lbs., (due to body structure and not being overweight) this is a matter of the person responsible for producing the litter not carefully pairing the dam and sire.
When one breeds, this should be with the betterment of the breed in mind, and to strive to meet the breed standards as closely as possible. This is part of what keeps the bloodlines strong and allows any certain dog breed to continue in refinement and development. 

For this, the pedigrees of both dam and sire should be examined, to ensure that dogs up to 5 generations back have qualities that should be passed down. 

If an over-sized Maltese is bred, there is a good chance of this producing larger than average puppies, and therefore dogs that do not fit the standard. 
2) Being overweight. Those that have standard Maltese may find the notion of an overweight Maltese to be absurd. However, no dog breed is exempt from this possibility. This is most often seen with those on the higher end of the expected size scale, and almost always with mature adults.  
If you happen to have a Maltese that is too large due to carrying excess weight, there are steps that you can take to help your Maltese lose weight in a healthy manner.
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See helpful feeding guidelines, schedules, and tips for making sure that your Maltese is properly fueled.
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