Maltese Puppy Training & Breed Information
Maltese puppies make beautiful companions in most family and living situations, including inner city apartments. They are one of the most loved and popular of all dogs in the toy group. The reason for this is that they have fewer health problems than most toy dog breeds and are right up there for playfulness, spunk and charm!
Apart from their obvious stunning appearance the Maltese dog breed has a lovely gentle and affectionate nature and just the right mix of cheeky mischievous character. You’ll find the main requirement of your Maltese puppy will be to spend time with you. Maltese dogs consider themselves to be a part of the family and expect to be involved in all family activities!
Whether you are out and about in the car, playing fetch at the park or simply snoozing on the couch in front of the TV your Maltese puppy will want to be right by your side. Maltese dogs are a breed that do form a truly special and close bond with their human family.
Maltese Dog History
The exact origin of the Maltese breed is unknown. What we do know is that they are an ancient breed – probably one of the oldest of all pure bred dogs.
It is most likely that many hundreds (possibly thousands) of years ago the Maltese breed was born in Malta or Italy. They are almost certainly a descendent of the Spitz type dog and may also contain Spaniel and Poodle blood.
Throughout the years the Maltese breed has featured prominently in art work from ancient Egypt and many parts of Europe. And why wouldn’t they? After all they are such a beautiful subject.
For many centuries Maltese dogs have been the chosen companion of royalty and the wealthy. This may explain why they love nothing more than being pampered and spoiled rotten to this day.
Maltese Puppy Appearance
Lets be honest here, the crowning glory and first thing you notice when seeing a Maltese dog is their stunning silky pure white coat. They are world famous for this luxurious long straight hair.
The Maltese dog breed has a small compact body which appears to glide or hover along when they stride out with their long flowing coat. They have a highly expressive face featuring large dark eyes, a black nose and long heavily feathered ears. A fully grown Maltese puppy weighs in at between 4 to 8 pounds and stands 8 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder. So called “teacup maltese puppies” are smaller than this again – be cautious if you come across any maltese breeders who are advertising litters of “teacup maltese puppies for sale”.
• Maltese dogs are considered to be a hypoallergenic breed, which makes them suitable for dog lovers who suffer from allergies. The long luxurious coat of a Maltese is a single coat which does not shed (or sheds very little).
• Regular grooming and brushing is required to keep the coat of your Maltese tangle free and looking its best. A good solid brush about 3 times a week is advisable if your Maltese has a long coat. Many Maltese breeders and pet owners recommend a “maltese puppy cut” which is short and very easy to maintain. One habit you are sure to encounter is that Maltese puppies love to get down and dirty – If there is a muddy puddle in sight your Maltese is sure to find it!
• Tear staining can also affect the beauty of your Maltese. Be sure to clean the area just below the eyes daily if necessary (there are many products on the market for this purpose). The diet you provide to your maltese puppy can also contribute to the unsightly tear staining.
• The low set droopy ears of your Maltese puppy will also require regular cleaning to prevent any build up of moisture or infection.
Maltese Puppy Temperament
A well bred, socialized and trained Maltese puppy has a lovely stable, out going and sound temperament. They are a welcome addition to any dog loving family. I strongly advise that you purchase your Maltese puppy from a reputable maltese puppy breeder. Doing so may save you and your family a whole lot of heartache and visits to the Vet in the future. A good maltese breeder cares deeply for the health and wellbeing of the breed going forward. They do everything possible to produce hardy and healthy specimens through breeding from quality stock and carefully planning each litter of puppies.
The temperament of the Maltese is the reason why this little breed has become so popular right around the world:
• Maltese puppy socialization is essential for all young puppies. It is especially important to expose (in a pleasant, non threatening way) your maltese puppy to other dogs and many different people, including kids. Maltese puppies get along well with children but due to their size and fragile nature they are not recommended for young children. A well socialized puppy grows to be a confident, courageous, lively, playful and trusted member of your neighbourhood.
• The bond shared between a Maltese and his/her owner is a truly strong one. Unfortunately this can lead to canine separation anxiety if you are forced to spend extended periods away from your dog. I have written a detailed article on this subject – separation anxiety in dogs.
• Maltese are an ever alert breed who are protective and sometimes even territorial. They make excellent little watchdogs who will sound the alarm at the slightest disturbance. Maltese have courage beyond their size and some would say they are without fear.
• One common trait in Maltese dogs is their mad time or “zoomies”. From out of nowhere a maltese puppy will charge around the house at full throttle – often with a loud accompanying bark! These periods of madness can be minimized through exercise and some mental stimulation like obedience training.
• Maltese puppies are very affectionate and like to prove it to you every day. As I’ve mentioned they also have their fair share of naughtiness and a real mischievous streak.
Maltese Dog Health Concerns
Due to careful and responsible breeding practices it is pleasing to say that the Maltese is a generally healthy breed. They have far fewer problems (physical and mental) than the majority of dog breeds and just about all in the toy group. Reputable maltese breeders have done the right thing by the breed which means Maltese puppies often live a healthy and active 14 years or more.
There are a few health concerns you should be aware of when selecting your Maltese puppy:
• As with many toy dog breeds the Maltese can experience tooth and gum problems from an early age. Give the teeth and gums a thorough brushing every week to prevent these problems arising. Some maltese puppies also retain their baby teeth which can cause further problems – your Vet needs to check this out.
• What you feed to your Maltese plays a significant role in determining the health, wellbeing and longevity of your dog. Discover how to provide proper maltese nutrition here – choosing the best dog food.
• Maltese puppies do not enjoy extreme temperatures – hot or cold. They do best in a nice mild climate.
• Other health problems to be aware of that can affect your Maltese are – respiratory complaints, luxating patella, liver shunt, PRA progressive retinal atrophy and distichiasis.
How To Train A Maltese Puppy
A Maltese puppy is a highly intelligent animal. They have the ability to learn new behaviors quickly and with plenty of enthusiasm. Maltese training sessions are a brilliant way to build and strengthen the human-dog bond you will enjoy together.
When training your Maltese be sure to use plenty of encouragement, praise and rewards (positive reinforcement). Keep training sessions short, intense and fun – continue to challenge your Maltese so he/she doesn’t become bored. Always rely on consistent training methods and repetition to shape new behavior and forget all about any forceful punishment. Maltese don’t respond well to leash jerks or other harsh “corrections” – plus they don’t need them anyway.
Some of the more common Maltese training issues:
• The big one – Maltese house training. There is more written about house training a Maltese than any other training issue. In truth, I don’t believe that the housebreaking process needs to be so difficult.
• Maltese puppies are much easier to house train and more cooperative than most toy breeds. My advice is to pick out a good potty training schedule and follow it with absolute consistency and persistence. Supervision is the key to successfully house training your Maltese puppy. You must try your very best to prevent messy mistakes and always reward desirable eliminations. I prefer to use a crate during the house training period – it nearly always produces a good result.
• If you live in a cold climate or choose to potty train your Maltese puppy indoors I recommend using a Wizdog indoor dog toilet.
• All of the basic obedience training commands such as sit, down, come, stay, down and leash walking are all easily grasped by Maltese puppies. Consider clicker training when teaching these behaviors – I’ve clicker trained a few Maltese puppies and they respond beautifully to this gentle method. Maltese puppies love obedience training sessions as it is time spent with you and it provides them with some much needed physical and mental stimulation.
• Many Maltese owners report problems regarding their dog’s excessive barking. On some occassions the barking can be attributed to being a symptom of separation anxiety, but there are many other triggers as well. You can read more about problem barking and how to put a stop to it here – Maltese barking problems.
• Some Maltese puppies are mad for chewing – they love to wrap their teeth around anything and everything. It’s best to teach some basic household etiquette early, including some chew toy training. This develops good habits in your puppy and prevents many behavior problems from ever arising.
• Another common issue with Maltese puppies is coprophagia or eating the feces of their own or other animals. This disgusting habit occurs mainly during puppyhood and fortunately most grow out of it.