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Breed characteristics?
by Martha McNear
Breed characteristics? Hello! I was searching for a Maltese FAQ page when I came upon your page. I hope you can help me with some basic Maltese questions, or perhaps you can direct me to the proper location. I am looking for a small(ish) pet dog for my 10 year old daughter. This dog will hopefully become her best friend and help her with social skills and responsibility issues.

I have previously owned Shetland Sheepdogs who were trained and shown in Obedience. Does the Maltese do well with Obedience? What are the primary temperament characteristics of the Maltese. The dog I am looking for must be playful, active but not hyper, athletic, friendly to children and strangers (although a healthy reserve is fine), non-aggressive, willing to please, able to bond with a 10 year old, etc. I recognize that I will be the ultimate caretaker of this pet but I hope I can guide my daughter in its care. We currently have two indoor cats (we recently lost two elderly cats to old age [19 & 25 years]), a box turtle who spends the Spring and Summer days in our fenced yard and a horse who lives at a stable. Do you think a Maltese would fit our requirements? My daughter would fall for the cuteness factor, but I must be practical. I thought a Jack Russell terrier would work, until I learned of its potential aggressiveness toward kids. If you don't think a Maltese would work for us, perhaps you can suggest an alternative breed. Thank you very much,


Martha, I may be biased but I think a Maltese sounds exactly what you are after, in fact, you have just given a very good description of one. My experiences of Maltese living with cats have all been good, but of course you would keep a very close eye on the puppy to be sure that the cats don't hurt him. My guess is that they will give him a wide berth, though! One of our Maltese just had his basic obedience exam and came top of the class, so they certainly have the potential to be good at obedience also, because most of all they just want to please and be loved.
Deanna (Moose & Squirrel)

A Jack sound o.k for your sit....
Dear Martha; I am sure everyone who comes to this discussion would agree that the Maltese are the most superb pet. They are friendly, smart, loyal, totally adorable, and they live to make us happy. They are not mean or agressive. I am sure you and your whole family will quickly fall in love with these little dogs.
Martha, I'm sure everyone on this site will agree on the Maltese. They are a very lovable, smart, quick learning breed. If you opt for a Puppy, they take alot of time and patience in training, grooming etc. My Buster is 6 mos old and loves everyone. Hasn't been around small kids yet so I can't give you info on that. He wants LOTS of attention and love. If you consider this breed please read Jays Site (Malteseonly) completely before you make a decision.
Libby & Buster
Hi Martha, My name is Kim. I have a nine year old daughter who owns a Maltese. She is the sole caretaker of this dog. He is always groomed to perfection. They have such a beautiful bond, that sometimes I just watch her outside with him. He loves her to pieces and when she comes home from school, he jumps in her arms. I would recommend a Maltese but maybe you should get one that is not very small. Maybe 6-7 pounds. They are great pets and they are very smart. Go for the obedience as they will thrill you when they perform. Good Luck and if you need any help or have any questions my email address is
Martha, I don't have my little Maltese yet, next week! (I hope), but I have a 10 year old and a 5 year old and these dogs are excellent with my children. My aunt has one, and when my 5 year old little comes to visit, he won't leave her alone until she gets a blanket and lays on the couch and sucks her thumb, at which point he will jump up on the couch with her and snuggle underneath the blanket. She loves it too! Good luck. I'm sure you will be very happy with this breed. Also just a word of caution, I have heard that Jack Russel's are very very difficult to housebreak, Maltese aren't. That's enough of a reason for me!
I know I'm biased, but out of all the pets I've had (cats, various breeds and mixes of dogs, assorted rodents), my Maltese has been my favorite. He is just about the smartest dog I've ever owned. You asked about obedience: Puff is brilliant. I never shown dogs, but I'm sure if I wanted to, and had the time, Puff would have done well at an obedience trial. He learns quick and responds well to either praise or treats. He's a little headstrong (in a down-stay he will whimper a little or try to crawl forward), but I'm sure if I put some effort into it I could have gotten him to do it perfectly. Even after his hearing loss at 3 years old, I taught him new handsignals and tricks. He knows 12 different handsignals, and his willingness to please shows through. He is very friendly, but a good watchdog (will bark at strangers and pizza delivery men). He loves cats! He used to go downstairs to play with our tennant's balinese every day while I went to work. He's very lively (even at 14!), but has never been what I'd call hyper. He is somewhat agressive towards other male dogs, but neutering and training helped that considerably. He has never shown agressiveness towards people. The only thing I wouldn't suggest is having one around rodents. I don't know about others, but the only animal I ever saw Puff really try to hurt was my hampsters (not a problem, just moved them to a room he wasn't allowed in). Sorry to go on so, but I never tire of talking about Puff. Jack Russels are great too (just to be fair). My friend has two that are just darling.. and have a similar personality. Their's have no problems with small children as far as I know. They race their Jacks (just for fun.. not for money!), and boy are they fast! Cute too.
Thanks for your advice! Yes, I knew I would be getting biased opinions, but I have found that people who truly love their breed will be honest about its characteristics, thereby preventing harm and heartbreak. Keep those messages coming: it sounds as if this dog will work for us. After we make a firm decision, I will be looking for a breeder!
Martha McNear
I have a terrible cold, but will try to gather coherent thoughts here.... My Phoebe is five months old now & I've had her since fourteen weeks, she is fabulous! Very even tempered, playful, affectionate, intelligent, and just a complete delight! I also have two grandchildren who live with us - ages four and five, now Phoebe does have a pen and spends time in there, but she loves the kids and they love her.Kids do get rambunctious and so do puppies, hence the pen, even though I am home all the time. Kids and dogs do differ somewhat in personalities & levels of response/responsibility. With your daughter being ten I think a Maltese might just be a good choice - but perhaps an older one? I also have a fourteen pound Maine Coon cat who Phoebe loves, the cat was rather reluctant to get involved with this little wiggly ball of fluff - but they do play now. The biggest problem I have had with Phoebe is chewing, everything and anything that will fit goes into her mouth and when she gets wound up she will nip fingers and hands - as puppies do naturally in play. I have been amazed at how well she has learned her grooming routine and she is using wee pads & that works great! I did massive amounts of research into several different breeds before deciding on a Maltese, books and web sites and talking to breeders. It is a big choice and you are wise to aske questions. Good luck on your decision & your daughter is a lucky girl to have such a thoughtful Mom.
Leslie R
I think a maltese is the perfect dog for you. I have two children ages 11 and 8 and our little girl Snowball (age 8 months) loves both of them. She will sit and snuggle up with them on the couch and is always so happy to see them after school. She gives quite the greeting. They are extremely social and very affectionate. I couldn't ask for a better temperment. We live in military housing where there are lots of kids and they all come to our house to see Snowball. They absolutely love her and she loves them. She greets each and every one of them. It's like she knows they're there to see her not us. Good luck finding a good breeder. I know you'll be happy with your choice.
My Buddy is an attentive, affectionate, and loyal little dog. I had never even seen a Maltese dog until I rescued mine at 1 1/2 years old. I have had him for 9 1/2 years now, and I don't regret it for a second. He is the ultimate companion/friend. He may well be the perfect pet for your daughter. I am never alone in my home with Buddy around. He follows me everywhere, he sleeps with me, we play with his toys, we watch tv together. This breed is so easy to fall in love with--they seem to love you unconditionally. Buddy likes people, and is still full of life even at 11 years old. This website has good info on the breed as well as this bulletin board. I hope that you find the perfect dog for your daughter. They bring us so much love!
Martha, a Maltese would be the perfect pet for you! I have an 11 year old boy, and a 3 1/2 year old girl. Our Angel is now 11 months old. She adores us all and is so wonderful with the kids. She is the greatest companion and playmate for all of us. She is so gentle and sweet with my little one but puts on her big play self for my son. She is kind, affectionate and full of love for us all. We too have horses. Our Angel loves to sometime just be a real dog and run all over the ranch, then at night she is fast asleep on one of our laps. She is another family member to us and I am sure if you get a Maltese you will be so blessed beyond your wildest dreams. They light up your life!
My daughter is 16 (for a few more days) and we got our Darby almost two weeks ago. We have a Lhasa that is almost 10 and I can't tell you how much my daughter enjoys the puppy. Whe we got Muffin (old dog) my daughter was too little to help out much, and was afraid of the nipping. With Darby she just melts, and he is so sweet and devoted to her. The first day we got him we had an hour long drive home. She held him on her lap, and then once we got home he would whine every time she left the room. That did it. ("OH, he loves me!") She has a lot of patience with him, and we both try to display even amounts of affection on Darby and Muffin. I have to say it is hard as Darby is such a sweet, affectionate and funny pup!

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