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Archived Message

teacup maltese

by Heather

Hello! I have been looking for written information on teacup maltese, but so far I have not had any luck. Perhaps someone can give me information on them. I currently have a maltese who is of a "normal" size (8 lbs.) and am considering getting a teacup maltese. I would like to know if the teacups are more difficult to care for, if they have more health problems than the larger maltese, special considerations in their care, life expectancy, etc. Thank you!


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

As an AKC licensed judge, I would say a "tea-cup" is a term that covers minitature versions of a breed. There is not an official recognition of tea-cup Maltese, but some breeders use the term to describe Maltese which are below 2lb. Some people have doubts whether this is an appropriate process.
-Mr. C

There was much discussion of "tea cup" (not a real category) maltese--i.e., those that are quite small a while back. There are various posts from Jay and other breeders as well as owners. Check the archives. I believe it was sometime in July that these posts were written.
-cathy brown

In looking through a local advertiser/paper recently, I noticed that "everything" seems to be going teacup or mini. After reading the discussion on teacups which Cathy mentioned, I just have to shake my head. While they sound so cute, I now recognize the health concerns which come with it. I think the archives will be a great resource for you. Good luck--I am sure you will love whatever Maltese you take into your family next, because they are such sweet balls of fluff, no matter what their size or weight.

Dear Tiny-dog fancier: This is one that always gets my back up, and I am surprised if legitimate breeders and/or the American Maltese Association will ever recognize such a thing as a "toy" or "tea cup" Maltese. First, research the Maltese and you'll learn that it is not a bred down version of any larger dog (such as the case is with Standard Poodle, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, and Tea-cup Poodle. It would, in my opinion, be contrary to every principle in professional dog breeding. Cat people are always creating new "breeds." That is terribly irresponsible as well. The thing is, no matter how tiny your Maltese may be (God help and watch over the ones already out there under 4 pounds---nevermind 3 or 2) are still Maltese. And, more important, they are still Dogs: they poop, pee, bark, need $$$ vet care, need walks, runs, brushing, teeth cleaning and attention. Here in NYC, "home-breeders" are peddling "Toy Maltese" and everytime I walk my two beauties (a 13 yr old male at 10lbs, and a 13 yr old female at 5 pounds, both kept in full coats, and a huge grooming effort, both trained, socialized, peppy, etc.) I am asked where to get one, but the new "toy" kind. It's getting so that I'm reluctanct to walk my dogs along Madison Ave., or in the park for fear of giving the impression that these beautys just grow up that way. Enormous efforts go into caring for the mental and physical well-being as well as their grooming. I urge you to consider: first, a legitimate rescue of an adult Maltese, next, a purchase from a breeder whose breeding bitches are allowed to rest between whelpings (skip a whelp) and who refuse to result to breeding with weaker runts to arrive at the non-existent "toy." Sorry to postulate, but I see way too many abnormally small dogs who are huge disappointments to their owners because they're scared, have neurological difficulties, have 4 out of 4 "bad" knees, etc. etc. And, they get dumped at the neareset "shelter." So if breeders are listening--give this one a great deal of careful consideration. What is the point of making more "saleable" sizes when they're filling up shelters and rescue groups, and being accidentally smashed playing in the run with 15 to 100 pound dogs. Please. Remember: above all do no harm. Thank you
-auntChristine (Christine) Pellicano

Oh, dear, what is all of this? First an AKC Judge giving credibility to a "tea-cup" Maltese, then others stating that four pound Maltese have health problems. Why not take a look at the origin of the Maltese breed which historically fit in a sleeve or pocket. Check the records, please. First, our current AKC Standard reads: "Under 7 lbs., with from 4 to 6 lbs. prefered." It is clear, it is simple. Over 7 lbs. is untypical, lacking correct breed type. Our current standard was approved and has been in effect since November 12, 1963. That is over 30 years!!! There is no mention of "tea cup" Unfortunately, there are ill-advised and ignorant breeders who thinking "bigger is better" strive to create their own Standard. The breed Standard is the "blue print" judges are pledged to judge by the Standard and ethical breeders breed as closely as they can to the Standard of the breed. According to our Standard, a Maltese is the correct size if it is Under 7 lbs.--that means 1,2,3 lb. Maltese are CORRECT by our Standard. Personally, I feel greed and ignorance of the history and the function of our breed drive those who breed Maltese in excess of 7 lbs. There is a myth that huge, long-backed Maltese have big litters (or perhaps it is true), but that is where the long-backed dwarf-types that resemble Lhasa Apso's come from!!!!! These are not Maltese! They may carry AKC papers but they lack type. Prior to 1963 our AKC Standard read, "Under 3 lbs. Ideal..." There were many lovely sound Maltese in those days that were under 3 lbs., free-whelped and were SOUND! They weren't sickly, they weren't runts, they were the correct size. Those who know their history of the breed will recall many references to Maltese that "should be no larger than a ferret." Try stuffing a 9 lbs. Maltese up your sleeve. lol Somehow the Maltese managed to survive into the 90's throughout perhaps as many as 8,000 years as a small toy dog that could be carried in a pocket or sleeve. Those of you who want breed "over 7 lbs. Maltese, rather than bastardize our AKC Standard should work through the American Maltese Association to change our Standard. Until such time as our Standard is changed, there is one correct size for Maltese with 4-6 lbs. being prefered. These were not crippled, sickly runts, nor misfits, but rather beautiful beloved treasures that (I can document) lived into the high teens and early 20's. Those who have larger than 7 lbs Maltese, I am not attacking you or your dogs. They are beautiful and loveable, but not correct by our current AKC, AMA Standard of the breed. Please keep in mind that "mice have babies." Size does not determine health, nor ability to produce young. Possibly what confuses you is that there have been greedy breeders through the years who have acquired huge bitches on virtue of their size rather than their genetic make-up and bred them to the smallest sire available, again ignoring genetic make-up in the misguided attempt to produce large litters of small Maltese. Thus, creating "runts." Please, treat the Standard of the Breed with respect, strive to breed to fit the blueprint laid out in our Standard; work to change it if you sincerely believe it is incorrect--but until such day as our Standard changes (if it ever does) recognise it as the only true blue print. It is very easy to kid yourself into believing that whatever you possess is "Correct." Please, it is our Standard that is correct. It contains the essense of what a Maltese is and has been for centuries. I love all animals and all living things but that doesn't give me the right invent terms like "tea cup" or claim that Maltese that are CORRECT by our Standard are "misfits and runts." The giant breeds, Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, have the shortest life spans of all as far as I know, roughly 5-10 years. Liver shunt is no stranger to these breeds. Generally, in the giant breeds those with liver shunts die fairly young (prior to four months) because of the rapid growth taxing the liver. As far as joint and bone problems I have yet to know of a Maltese (unless it was injured) suffered bone problems to the extent that it required surgery. If you want to know about bone problems read up on giant and large breeds! I am not saying that Maltese are without health problems, but compared to their larger cousins Maltese are healthy and sturdy little dogs. Or, to quote the first paragraph in our Standard, "He is gentle-mannered and affectionate, eager and sprightly in action, and, despite his size, possessed of the vigor needed for the satisfactory companion." These are not my words, but the words of the great protectors of the Maltese Dog throughout history. "Four to Six pounds" is the prefered and correct size! Beverly Passe
-Beverly B. Passe-Myi Maltese

Please try not to use the term "teacup". Some less-than-good breeders made up that word for Maltese *they say* will weigh under two or three pounds as adults. These same breeders try to divide other weights into Toy Maltese and miniature Maltese. These are all silly terms not used by responsible Maltese breeders. Using them immediately stamps a breeder as unknowledgeable or misinformed, not someone you want to buy from. Maltese are NOT divided by weight in any way, shape, or form. It is perfectly natural for one to weigh more or less than another. A Maltese is simply a "Maltese, no matter what it weighs.

How can you say that a Maltese over 7lbs is not correct breed type ? The Maltese I think we will all agree go back to Europe so lets look at the size standard world wide..FCI Europe Weight & Size 6 1/2 to 9lbs males 8 1/4 to 10 ins females 7 3/4 to 9 ins .The upper limit may be increased by 2/5 inch in dogs of exceptional beauty.. England. Size not over 25.5 cm (10ins) from ground to top of shoulder , note no weight but a well balanced maltese with the right amount of body substance that measures 10ins at shoulder should weigh 10-12 lbs.. These are two standards that cover a large number of countries in the world . they may not be correct by American Standards but are correct by World Standards .

Excellent post, I was hoping that someone would mention some of the other Standards. I'm not sure which direction World Standards are going, however, it does appear most of them are falling in place with our own American Standard. These things take time. There is a lovely little book called, "Maltese Dogs-the Jewels of Women" published by the Maltese Club of Great Britain several years ago. Unfortunately, it takes a long time to catch up with the findings of archaeologists. It states that prior to the advent of archaeology in the 19th century that it was believed that the Maltese Dog originated in Malta, but that archaelogists discovered references in stone and uncovered mythical-lore which would seem to place this Toy-dog in widely distant regions of Asia. To quote directly, "In China--the land of ancestral worship Western archaeologists were not granted permission to dig, but latterly the Chinese themselves have begun excavations. Several districts yielded priceless objects from the country's ancient past and, it was learned abroad that among them, "a model of a Maltese dog thought to be a child's toy, was unearthed in the Northern Desert and, dated at 8,000 B.C." Throughout intiquity, if one studies the history of the Maltese, one will find that "the smaller were the most prized." In discussing breeds you will eventually get to the subject of "type." Type is what sets one breed apart from another. I wasn't around 8,000 years ago (although sometimes I feel like it) to set breed type for Maltese, nor was I around when the Maltese was first entered into AKC stud books (as a small "under 3 lbs ideal" silky coated dog) around 1900, nor did I work on the revision of the Maltese Standard in America in 1960, but I do have enough humility and respect for those older and wiser than myself to try to carry on the "essence" ("type," if you like) of an 8,000 year tradition. I have personally seen 20# white dogs registered as Maltese with AKC papers. To me, they are not Maltese because they lack "type" no matter what their papers say. This is not to say that they should be less loved, less cherished or appreciated--but only that they lack breed "type." If we do not appreciate "type" logical extreme of this abandonment would be the end of all purebreds. Would a white doberman still be a doberman? Would a hairless Afghan still be an Afghan? Where do we draw the line? In our AKC Standard of Maltese which is the most widely used Standard in the world, it is clear: "Under 7 lbs., with 4-6 lbs. prefered." I find it interesting that AKC still has many references stating that Maltese originated on the Island of Malta. Whereas that has been known as fallacy for well over 100 years. Unfortunately, many who write dog books do so for profit and are not scholars. Instead of searching out for current research, they have so little interest in the individual breeds that they just copy or rephrase cheap little dog books, add some nice pictures, and more myths are spread. Please realize that I'm not trying to put down anyone's beloved pet, just stating what scientists have discovered through the history of the Maltese breed. The point you make about measurements is a good one. The other day I saw what looked like a Pug with a straight tail. Upon asking the owner what breed it was I was amased to learn it was a grossly over-weight (18#) Chihuahua!!! My point being, at what point do you draw the line? Nice post! bev
-Beverly B. Passe-Myi Maltese

I should have said that most of the Maltese that we breed from today go back to the dogs brought into Europe but if the American dogs go back to china i apologizefor my mistake. You state that the AKC is the most widely used standard in the world? Yet the FCI covers all of Europe and the English Standard covers England Australia New Zealand South Africa and some of the asian countries. I belive the A.K.C.covers the American Continent,Japan & some asian countries..So I feel that it is not the most used standard..You also refer to a book the Jewels of women yes I also read this book but the latest book out of the U.K. The Maltese Today by Vicki Herrieff who has to be one of the leading experts in Maltese in the World states(The sum total of all of these standards,to a greater or lesser degree is the same dog) With the difference in Height we seem to have a slightly different type of Maltese so lets look at the word TYPE. To quote a all breeds judge Laurane Buchanen who published a article in a number of Australian Dog journals (TYPE is probably the most misunderstood and abused term used in the dog world todaY. How often have we heard outside the ring oh I would not put thet one up,it is not my type. Surely the basic meaning of type (as used in the canine terminology)is that combination of characteristics that,put together,distinguish one breed from another.In fact in a open letter to judges some years ago.one noted dog personality,Ben DeBoer,referred to an explanation produced by an early scottie breeder that I think is perfectly valid today. The scottie breeder defined type in a way that included these classifications BREED type to distinguish one breed from another STRAIN type to distinguish line bred typing within a breed.FAMILY type to distinguish a group of dogs so closely line bred that they have great similarity. We seem to be mixing Family and strain or line typing with what we should be looking for ..The proper Breed Type) I feel that The Maltese Dog has more than size to offer and we can not say a dog is not correct because of its size. It seems to be the matter of size in the Maltese World Wide is evenly divided and I feel that the small dogs have a lot to offer but so have the larger dogs as long as they do not go over the height 10ins at shoulder. If you refer to the book The Maltese Dog by the well known American Virginia T Leitch the most comprehensive book on maltese in the world you will note that all sizes are refered to and all are noted as being correct. Some day we may have one standard but I do not think so. as with I would prefer to exhibit the type that fits the English Standard. That is not to say I do not like the American Maltese I feel that they have a lot to offer the world and in some areas you lead the world. But I can trace my dogs back to the 1920s and you seem to feel that they are not correct, The girl who I have in the ring at the present time was a reserve in show winner at 10 1/2 months and she is over 7lbs in weight and her wins have been with international as well as Australian judges so who is wrong?? I rest my case Hilary

Hillary, I am greatly enjoying your well-thought out posts. However, I must take exceptions to a couple of points. The source I quoted, "Maltese Dogs--The Jewels of Women," was published by the Maltese Club of Great Britain. It supplies research that supports the origin of the Maltese in China. Probably these original Maltese reached Malta, then England via early trade routes (after such time China isolated itself from the rest of the world). You site Virginia Lietch whose book published in 1953 was probably the best researched work of its time. Having personally seen the famous Jon Vir Maltese in this country, I must tell you that Virginia bred to the current standard of "Under three lbs. ideal." Her line was famous because of it type: They were very tiny, compact, fine-boned with silky coats--and as far as I know free-whelped and had few health problems. If you go far enough back in our American pedigrees you will generally find Jon Vir Maltese. Secondly, "type," is not confusing if you understand it is the Standard of a given breed. It is what makes a Maltese "Maltesey." It is based on the origin and history of the breed. Myself, I would find it difficult to pack a ten pound Maltese around in my sleeve or pocket. There are accounts where it is said that the Maltese survived the Dark Ages hidden in the sleeves of the clergy. Accounts that one was hidden under the skirt of Mary Queen of Scotts at her beheading, or carried in the bosoms of grand Victorian ladies, etc. Surely, you can see the humor of a ten pounder stuffed in such places:) Actually, the number of people who believe a certain thing doesn't make that "thing" correct. For example, the entire civilized world at one time believed the world was flat! Certainly, it has been well-documented and proven now to most that our world is of a sphere shape. "Type" is the official standard of the breed, and I suppose that if you live in Australia, then 10 inches or so is "correct type." On the other hand, if you study the historical background of the Maltese Dog, it is clear that the Maltese was not only one of the most ancient Toy dogs, but also one of the smallest. I am to humble to try to rewrite history or to protest the authors of our AKC Standard. I have often wondered what judges do who judge world wide in shows where standards differ from their homeland. My 4-6 lb. Maltese have won BIS's under many judges who were from Australia, Germany, and other countries and few knowledgeable judges have faulted them for being in the 4-6 lb. range. There have been attempts here in the US to bring our Standard in line with other standards around the world, but thus far, they have failed. Perhaps some day we will have a "world" standard. Our AKC Standard calls for a "compact," (which means small or a lot contained in a little space), fine-boned dog; therefore, a Maltese over 7 lbs. would lack type (as far as size is concerned). We do have a loop hole, we have no disqualification on size as do, say, the Chihuahua's. Personally, I feel this is what allows our Maltese to grow larger as time passes. Also, ambiguous is the phase that states, "over all quality to be favored over size." As for your claim that the FCI and English Standards currently dominate the world, I and English Standards dominate the world perhaps someone could help us here. I was under the impression that the AKC Standard was used in Canada, North and South America, US possessions, Japan, parts of Europe, and most of China. Maybe someone knows by country which standard is in used? Best I can give you and your arguement at this time is that correct type by your standard used in your country, is correct type for you as you are probably (like myself) pledged to uphold it. I cannot, however, let it pass that Maltese that are less then 4 lbs. are unsound or unhealthy just on the virtue of their smaller size. I have in my short life seen many more unsound large canines, then I have tiny canines...think about it! Bev
-Beverly Passe

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