- 1 Basic Maltese Health Information
- 2 Issues Relating to Maltese Care
- 3 Common Maltese Health Problems
Maltese are generally healthy dogs, but there are some Maltese health problems all owners should be aware of.
In the event that you are considering this breed as your next pet, take some time to learn as much as possible about your dog to give her the best quality of life you can.
Basic Maltese Health Information
How Big Does a Maltese Get?
Maltese are a toy breed that stands between 7 and 10 inches high and the standard Maltese weight is less than 7 pounds. The American Kennel Club, or AKC, usually prefers Maltese to weigh between 4 and 6 pounds.
Maltese Life Span
The average Maltese life expectancy is between 12 and 14 years, although the health of your dog will determine how long she lives. Taking your puppy to a veterinarian for regular checkups from an early age will help to keep her healthy and happy for many years to come.
Issues Relating to Maltese Care
Because Maltese are so small, overfeeding them can quickly lead to weight gain. Avoid giving them table scraps or low quality food that contains extra calories. Feed your puppy a quality dog food from a young age and follow feeding guidelines to be sure you aren’t giving your dog too much food.
Do Maltese Shed?
Maltese dogs don’t have a double coat, so if your Maltese sheds at all, it shouldn’t be very much. This is one dog that thankfully won’t leave a lot of hair on your furniture and clothing!
Although they don’t shed, Maltese dogs still need to be brushed and groomed regularly to prevent mats in their long, silky fur.
Maltese Grooming Styles
Long Hair. Maltese are beautiful dogs with long, flowing white fur. Keeping your dog’s hair long can present unique challenges, like your dog being able to see or eat when hair hangs in her eyes. To keep your dog’s long fur out of her face, pull the fur into a knot on top of her head. Maltese are often seen with bows in their hair simply to keep it out of their faces.
Short Hair. To help control mats and control the need to constantly brush your pet, you might want to consider having your dog’s coat trimmed by a professional groomer or veterinarian. Give your dog a puppy cut to keep his fur short to resemble how his coat was when he was a puppy.
Common Maltese Health Problems
Dogs can develop allergies just like people can, and Maltese are no exception. Keep an eye out for excessive sneezing, slight breathing problems or itchy, red bumps on your dog’s skin that can be symptoms of allergies. Take your dog to see your veterinarian if you suspect that she has allergies to rule out more serious illnesses.
Maltese Skin Problems
Puppy Strangles. Juvenile Cellulitis, otherwise known as puppy strangles, is a skin disease that usually begins when a Maltese puppy is about 5 weeks old. Puppies with puppy strangles will have large lymph nodes, swelling around their eyes, head and neck, and possibly even oozing sores on their skin.
Your veterinarian will prescribe medication if your dog has puppy strangles. You will also need to bathe her in an antiseptic bath on a regular basis and make sure she has plenty of protein in her diet to overcome the illness.
Most Maltese recover from puppy strangles, although they could have scarring and permanent hair loss as a result.
Maltese Eye Problems
Maltese are generally healthy dogs and are not plagued by a lot of eye problems, but there are a few to watch out for that can cause problems if they develop.
Atresia of the Nasolacrimal Puncta and Duct
If the hole, or puncta, that connects to the tear duct is missing or abnormal, blocked tearing can lead to bacterial or yeast infections. Your veterinarian might suggest surgery to correct this congenital condition.
Maltese Tear Stains
Tear stains are brownish stains that appear on the fur around Maltese dogs’ eyes and mouth. The amount of staining is related to how much your dog’s eyes water, or how much saliva she produces. Fur that is constantly wet will usually have more staining.
Maltese Tear Stain Removal
Tear stains can sometimes be the result of an underlying infection, so checking with your veterinarian is a good idea if your dog is getting them. Have your doctor test for ear or eye infections, or any dental issues so he can be treated with antibiotics if necessary.
There are some additional steps you can take at home to help prevent tear stains or clear them up. Disinfect your dog’s brushes with Lysol on a regular basis and carefully comb all of her hair, paying special attention to the fur around her eyes and mouth. Keep her environment and bowls clean and disinfected — it is easier to stay healthy when your home is clean!
Maltese Breathing Problems
Maltese dogs commonly have problems with two breathing problems, which can be either harmless or a serious problem as your dog ages.
Reverse sneezing is common in Maltese and can show up when your dog is young, lasting throughout life. When a dog has a reverse sneeze she will stick her head out and have a short wheezing fit. It should pass in a few minutes and she should be fine without seeing a veterinarian if reverse sneezing is the problem. It is a good idea to take her in for a checkup if it seems more severe.
In some older Maltese, the cartilage rings that make up the trachea can collapse and partially block the airway. Dogs that have this problem will have unusual coughing spells that can resemble the honking sound of bronchitis in humans.
There is no cure for a collapsing trachea, but your veterinarian can prescribe medication to help control cough and inflammation. Be sure your dog doesn’t overexert himself, because stress and exercise can trigger coughing fits.
While some of these health issues are unique to Maltese, every dog breed has its own set of health issues to deal with. In the long run, learning as much as you can about Maltese health problems is the right first step to take when deciding whether or not one of these dogs is right for you.