Click here to visit the most complete Maltese site on the WWW

Archived Message

My daughter has allergies

by Mary

My children want a dog desperately, but my older daughter has an allergic reaction to most of the dogs she comes in contact with. This includes itchy skin and eyes, wheezing and sneezing. Someone told me that a Maltese might be the answer, but I'm not really familiar with the breed. Can someone tell me if this is true? Also, my husband contends that small breeds are yappy, nervous and submissive piddlers....so this may have to be quite a sale! (He thinks that anything under 40 pounds isn't really a dog at all.....) I would love to hear the pros and cons from those of you who really know. Thanks for any advice!


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.

Mary, The Maltese breed is excellent for people who have allergies, you might consider reading previous posts about this. It usually depends on the individual dog as far as being yappy, etc. My Taffy is not yappy, does not do submissive peeing, or anything. She is the best dog I have ever had. She only shakes if she is extremely excited, or scared, like at the vet. Otherwise she does not shake. Some of these things tho, just depend on the dog. I couldn't reccommend a better small dog other than a Maltese. She thinks she is a big dog too! My husband prefers big dogs too, but Taffy has won his heart like no other.
-Robin K.

Maltese have a single coat that is silky in texture and has a propensity to stay very clean and free of the dust and dander that usually contain the allergens that most people have a reaction to. It is both the human-like quality of the Maltese coat and the absence of a soft undercoat that combine to make this breed an incredible pet, even for people normally allergic to dogs. My wife is allergic to dogs - and we breed Maltese ! They are all over our house, every day, and do not trouble her hardly at all. However, she does still have a reaction sometimes during grooming (clipping) when she inhales bits of dog hair floating in the air. She suffers no ill-effects ffrom simply brushing and combing them - and they are bathed about once evry 7-10 days to avoid buildup of dirt, dust, etc. She also does have reactions to dog urine so I know her to not simply be reacting to the dust or dander, but to the dog, itself. A sensitivity test for your daughter may help determine exactly what she is allergic to.

On your second issue, the husband. I must admit my wife picked this breed for "us" - while she was watching Westminster on TV many years ago - I think I was watching a basketball game on TV in another room at the time. I did a quick double-take on the little white dust mop parading across the screen and reacted in typical "male" fashion. Not no ... but h--l no ! Toy dogs are not even dogs - they're some sort of weird mutant cat, or something. They are only good to feed to REAL DOGS ! Boy was I mistaken, I've had (as a child) Pointers and Labs which we used for hunting, a Cocker as a pet, and Dobermans as a companion in early adulthood. None of these breeds can "hold a candle" to the loving, endearing, and charming companionship of the Maltese. They will worm their way into your arms, your heart, and eventually your very lifestyle - an irrestible force of love and loyalty that will melt the heart of even the staunchest "big-dog" afficianado.

Good luck on both issues.
-Larry Stanberry Divine Maltese

You should look at the post lower down on this page dated 11/1 from Kim Bainbridge - "Looking into Maltese". There are several responses to the allergy question. I am responding to your husband's current attitude towards small dogs. My husband's and my idea of a dog before we adopted a maltese was a German Shepherd, which is a wonderful breed but impractical for a working couple in a Manhattan apartment. We discovered the Maltese breed through good friends whose dog we dogsat for two weeks this summer. At first my husband was put off by such a cute, white little fluff ball, thinking it made him look silly taking such this dog for walks. But by the end of the two weeks, my husband was adament that we get a Maltese. Our pup, Lucca, is a male and now about 5 months old. He is affectionate, playful and fully convinced that he is a much larger dog (no yappy, nervous piddler is he!). I am amazed and delighted at how besotted my husband is with this dog. They are truly buddies, go for walks, play fetch, watch TV and generally hang out together. Once you are OK on the allergy issue, you and your family must all be comfortable with whatever breed you chose, but I really believe you will find the maltese dog to be unusual in that it is really a big dog trapped in the cutest little body. Best of luck, whatever you decide.

Mary, I have bred Maltese for several years and couldn't recommend a breed more whole heartedly. I too have allergies but seem to manage fairly well with periodic allergy medication. They make wonderful pets and even the most macho of men usually come around to fall head over heels for these balls of fluff. They each have their own personalities, some may have a tendency to bark more than others, some are real bold while others tend to be a little wimpy. Make sure you deal with a reputable breeder who will be honest about their puppies because their main concern should always be finding the right home for the right puppy, not just any home. I am also very involved with Maltese rescue and have heard on several occasions people developing an allergic reaction to our breed and needing to part with their pets that they have had for several years. Nothing is worse for me than taking a dog who may be older and trying to find him a new home. Please be sure to expose your daughter to the breed for several hours before making a final decision. Maybe you two can go visit a breeder and have her play with some puppies or adults and have them lick her. The most recent rescue situation I have encountered is a child being allergic to the dogs siliva. Finally make sure that you want this puppy as much as your children do since he/she will ultimately be your responsibility. If you do determine that this is the right dog for you and your family, I'm sure you'll experience that unconditional love that the Maltese give so well. Good luck.

I have never heard of anyone being allergic to the breed, but to be sure my Granddaughter was not allergic to them, I took her with me to look at them first. I let her play with them, the puppies and the adult dogs. We spent about an hour with them, early in the morning, and left her same clothes on all day. Generally she would have a reaction immediately but no later than 24 hours. She had no reaction to them at all, and after many years still does not. As far as the personalities, my dogs all differ there. I do have one that is very vocal, but only one in the group, and he minds well, so it is not a problem. I know what your husband is talking about when he says small yappy breed, and I would not describe the maltese as being in this category.
-Marsha A.

Mary,While I am no help with the allergy issue, I can vouch for the other. My husband and I searched for a long time to find a breed that we could agree on. I was the one who thought the only dog to have was a big one while he wanted a dog to sit in his lap and watch the game with him. One day I stumbled upon this web site and found the answer we had been looking for. We have only had our puppy for about six weeks but have not had any of the problems your husband is afraid of. I know every dog is different but all of the Maltese I have been in contact with have all been very loving and companionable. Doc never fails to put a smile on my face after a hard day at work! You might ask your husband to read up on them on this site. It worked for me and I will never regret it. It took Doc about 2 seconds to prance his way into my heart. Good Luck!

P.S. There are books that offer ways to tell about a dog's personality before you bring him home, unfortunately I can't give you any first hand info on this but it might help.
-Sherri and Doc

Mary, Never liked small dogs; always had a Lab. The Maltese was my wife's idea. Now I will always have a Maltese. Such a sweet dog, happy to see yu when you come home and then doing "her own thing" five minutes later. Loves to go camping, fishing, boating, etc. Small dogs are not necessarily "yappy" dogs. My wife is alergic to dogs & cats, but not Maltese's. Good luck!

Having a daughter with alot of allergies, I know what you are going through. My daughter had skin testing and proved to be very allergic to cats, among other things. I really was hesitant but I wanted a dog! So I asked my her peditrician and she did a specific dog allergin test (for dog dander, saliva etc.) which required one needle stick. But Michelle wanted to go through with it and now we have a dog. It is the sure way to go! I had read in medical books if you're allergic to one breed you will become allergic to them all sooner or later. It's a quick test and then you"ll know.

My daughter had been skin tested and found to be very allergic to cats among other things. I really wanted a dog but was really hesitant. I had read in medical literature that if you're allergic to one breed of dog, you'll become to allergic to another breed sooner or later. I was scared, but our peditrician is a dog lover and she ordered a dog specific allergen test. It included dog dander,urine and saliva. It was a quick and then we could be sure. Now we have our beutiful Chloe Bear. As for maltese dogs, they are just incredible. They become a true member of you family. Yes, my husband loves her too.
-diane and chloe

Thank you all for the wonderful advice! I took the suggestion and found the older postings on this issue, and read through those too.

My daughter has had the allergy tests, and took allergy shots for several years. Cats and horses are a definite no-no......dogs seem to be hit and miss as to her reactions. We will definitely spend some time with a breeder to be sure.

As to my husband: I think he's still pining for the German Shorthair Pointer we had before the children were born. (Old Joe was his hunting buddy and finally died of old age at 17.) But he's a softie, and I have no doubt that he'd bond despite his own protests. You should see him with our Lovebird riding around in his shirt pocket.......

Thanks again. I'll keep you posted on our decision. Mary

Copyright 1996, 1997© Maltese Only All rights reserved