Having a Maltese is similar to having other small toys dogs such as the Pomeranian (4 to 7 lbs.), the Chihuahua (2 to 6 lbs.), and the Papillon (8 to 10 lbs.).
There are pros and cons to having such a tiny dog:
Pros: Is great for small apartments, does not require a large yard, cost of feeding is quite low even with high quality dog food, it is easy to bring a Maltese with you to run errands, etc. especially if you keep him in a carry sling.
Walking a Maltese twice per day is rather easy as well (since a brisk pace for a Maltese will not take you very far when compared to a brisk pace for a larger dog).
Injury and trauma is a concern, care must be taken to not accidentally step on a Maltese, and a fall can be quite devastating. This is not the best breed for homes with rambunctious toddlers; close supervision and teaching proper handling techniques will need to be done.
This is not the type of breed that can go hiking up trails with you or running alongside you. But, he'll be happy to trot along as best he can, and be carried the rest of the way.
Cubbie, photo courtesy of Amy Jo
The Maltese has a single coat of hair (not fur). Having a dog with a coat of this texture has some advantages and disadvantages.
Shedding is very minimal. It is a myth that breeds with hair do not shed, because all dogs do. However, hair re-growth cycles are much less noticeable with the Maltese than other breeds with thick coats of fur that have seasonal shedding cycles.
Additionally, the single coat of hair means that any allergies
that you may have with dogs may be less severe; however, do keep in mind that there is no such thing as a 100% hypo-allergenic dog. This is because many people are allergic to the proteins found in a dog's saliva, and this is present whether you are talking about a Maltese or a Chow-Chow.
Another thing to keep in mind is that pet allergies may be to dander as well; Dander is found on dogs with hair, just often in less quantities.
Finally, a great bonus to having a Maltese is that he is a breed that can have a range of different hair styles
. Options are limited with many other breeds either due to fur not being able to grow long or close shaves damaging the coat. Not so with the Maltese breed that can easily go from a long show coat to a short puppy coat, or even a close shave, but then grow the coat back again.
Due to the silky, one-layer coat, many Maltese tend to get chilled quite easily. This is often quickly rectified by placing a cute shirt, vest, sweater or other clothing on the dog.
Skin issues are also not uncommon with this breed due in part to a coat that offers minimal protection, with dry skin being the most common skin problem. This can be rectified by using high quality shampoos
and coat products, and taking steps such as adding humidity to the house in the wintertime.