The Maltese is a tiny dog with a long, silky white coat that hangs all the way to the floor. There is no undercoat and the hair should not be wavy or curly. The ears are pendant and covered in hair and the tail, also covered in hair, drapes over the back. The eyes are round, dark and sport dark rims, and the nose is also black. The muzzle is slightly tapered. The neck is long, and the dog should carry his head high. The Maltese is slightly longer than tall, with a level topline. They are sturdy, though fine-boned, and when the move, they appear to be floating under their long, flowing hair.
Size and Weight
Weight standards vary, but generally, a Maltese weighs between 4 and 8 pounds. Typically, an adult Maltese stands between 8 and 10 inches at the shoulder.
Coat and Color
The Maltese coat is white, silky and straight, flowing from the dog's body all the way to the floor. They do not have an undercoat, and therefore do not shed much, if at all. They are considered to be a hypoallergenic breed and are many people with dog allergies find they can live with a Maltese, sneeze-free. The dog's coat should be pure white, but lemon or light tan ears are permissible.
The coat of the Maltese sheds very little, if at all. A Long-haired Maltese will need to be brushed daily in order to prevent tangles and mats. If the dog does develop a mat, do not bathe him. Make sure all mats are worked out before bathing, as water will tighten the hair of the Maltese and make the situation much worse. Brushing the Maltese also helps keep him clean, so even a short haired dog should be brushed regularly. Maltese get dirty very easily and regular brushing can mean the difference between bathing the dog every week, or every two to three weeks.
Tear stains are a common problem, thanks to the white hair of the Maltese. Rub the face with a soft cloth and gentle, veterinarian-approved cleanser to keep stains to a minimum. Additionally, their faces can become stained from food and water. Wipe the dog's face after every meal, and dry his beard after he drinks. Some owners prefer to teach their Maltese to drink from a water bottle, to prevent face staining.
Check the Maltese's ears on a regular basis for signs of wax buildup, irritation or infection. Clean the ears with a cotton ball and a veterinarian-approved cleanser; never use a cotton swab in a dog's ear canal. Also, Maltese grow a lot of hair in their ears that needs to be removed. Ask your groomer or vet to do this or to show you how to pluck the hair at home. Teeth should be brushed on a weekly basis to prevent tartar buildup, promote gum health and keep bad breath at bay. Trim nails monthly if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally outdoors.