Complete guide to having a Maltese dog as a pet
The Maltese dog has been known by a variety of names in the last centuries, including the Maltese Terrier, so called because it was the ancient dog of Malta, which is an island in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Europe. Over the centuries it has also been also been known as the Maltese Sleeve Dog, the Roman Ladies Dog and Melita which was the former name for Malta. Although this dog may also be quite commonly known in the U.S. as “Cokie”, the Maltese breed itself was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1888.
It is believed that their origin dates back to almost 500 BC as their depictions can be found in Greek and Roman literature.
The appearance of a Maltese dog
The Maltese has a compact body with a black button nose, brown eyes, and droopy ears. They also have a slightly rounded skull. The Maltese dog belongs to the AKC ‘Toy’ group. These dogs can grow up to a height of 8 to 10 inches and weigh from 2 to 7 lbs. in the female and 3 to 8 lbs. in the male.
The Maltese dog has a single layer of a white coat, there being no undercoat, which is soft and silky to the touch. Whereas puppies have curly, short hair, adults have hair that can grow long enough to reach the ground. Many people prefer to trim the hair of adult Maltese dogs to maintain the ‘puppy look’ and this does help the dogs to stay cleaner and develop fewer tangles.
Common medical issues with Maltese dog
The Maltese is a healthy breed but like any living being, they can suffer from certain health problems due to genetics or environmental factors. Thus, proper care is needed to keep them healthy.
Here are some health issues that a Maltese dog may face –
- Breathing Issues – Maltese dog can suffer from asthma or several other problems which may cause issues with breathing.
- Collapsed Trachea – Many ‘toy’ breeds, including Maltese, can suffer from this problem. Usually, there is a genetic disposition but sudden injuries to the neck can also cause them.
- Aberrant cilia – This is a condition where the eyelashes of the dog grow abnormally and may even touch the eye.
- Hip Dysplasia – Hip Dysplasia is a condition in which the ball and socket of tiny dogs like Maltese, slip out of place.
- Skin Problems – Due to having a single-layered coat, the Maltese can suffer from many skin related problems.
- Colitis – This condition can cause the colon of a Maltese dog to swell up or be inflamed. There can be many triggers for this condition but in most cases all the causes are treatable.
- Congestive heart failure – Senior Maltese dogs that are above the age of 10 often experience heart murmurs. If the signs are left untreated it may cause congestive heart failure.
- White Dog Shaker Syndrome – This condition is related to an autoimmune reaction which causes full-body tremors. It is generally caused due to environmental conditions.
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus – This is a fatal congenital condition that mainly affects young puppies. If the condition is not serious, the dog may live up to 10 years. In serious cases, immediate surgery should be done.
- Liver Shunts – This is a type of congenital condition which affects the flow of blood to the liver.
How should you look after your Maltese dog?
Every dog breed needs proper care to be of sound health. Here are some care tips for your Maltese dog –
- Take care of their teeth – Just like humans, dogs need to have clean teeth, otherwise, they can suffer from bad breath, tooth decay, mouth infections, tooth loss, sepsis, etc. Thus, make sure to brush their teeth using a canine toothpaste.
- Feed them quality food – It is crucial to feed your dog healthy food so that they can receive the proper nutrition and be healthy. Choose only branded food products. Never compromise on food quality as it may make them sick.
- Make sure they exercise daily – Walk at least 20-30 mins, two times a day with your dog to keep them healthy. As these are small dogs, they don’t need intense exercise. Sustained, low-cardio exercises can keep them healthy.
- Don’t feed them unfiltered tap water – Unfiltered tap may contain toxins, unregulated chemicals, chlorine, fluoride, and other harmful agents, which can all be harmful to your dog’s health.
- Take care of their coat properly – Make sure to brush the coat of your dog daily if they have long hair. If they have short hair you can brush them every 3 days. It is also a good idea to bathe them every 3 weeks to prevent dry skin.
- This breed of dog is bred to be a companion so they are lively and love to play, although very young children should be supervised when playing with the dog as they do tend to be snappish.
Nutrition for Maltese dog
Every dog should be fed the proper food so that they can receive the right nutrition. Most Maltese dogs will prefer dry food over wet, but it is a good idea to combine the two so that they don’t suffer from runny bowels. A good way to encourage them to eat their food is to warm the food to tepid.
If you chose to feed them grain-free food, make sure the ingredient list contains meats like chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, pork or fish. Avoid products which have exotic-meats. Avoid fillers, by-products, artificial additives, and generic meat sources. Choose Wholesome food ingredients which have zero additives.
Grooming your Maltese dog
It is very important to follow a proper schedule for grooming your dog. Here are some grooming tips for Maltese dog –
- Brush their hair everyday if they have long hair. Otherwise, every 3 days. Make sure to comb and spritz them too.
- Bathe them every 3 weeks
- Wipe their face and eyes 2-3 times a day
- Trim or file their nails every 5-6 weeks
- Scrub their teeth at least once everyday
- Clean their ears every 4 weeks
The best nurturing environment for your Maltese dog
It is essential to create the correct nurturing environment for your dog to keep them healthy and happy. Here are some tips that you can follow –
- Puppy-proof your house. Maltese puppies like to chew on any object they can find. So, make sure to keep all small objects out of their reach as they might choke on them.
- Choose a designated area for them in the beginning. A designated area will help the dog to adjust properly before the puppy is fully housetrained. It will also keep the puppy safe.
- Use indoor canine playpens instead of using crates so the puppy can more around and play in them.
- Provide them with toys and pee-pads. Feed the proper food and reward them with healthy snacks.
- Provide them a quality bed so that they can sleep properly.
- Buy the proper grooming supplies to make sure you don’t hurt them.
- Play with them often and show them love.
How long can a Maltese dog live?
Maltese dogs can have a life expectancy of about 12-14 years. With proper care and good genetics, some dogs may even live up to 15 years which is equal to 99 human years!
It is always a wise idea to invest in pet insurance, and particularly with small breeds of dogs. In the case of the Maltese they can be prone to several health problems and pet insurance will help you cope with costly veterinary treatments.