Maltese are cute dogs. There is no denying that. Regardless of whether they sport a shorter or longer coat; this is a dog breed that is guaranteed to make your heart melt. If you are potentially interested in getting one, then you will likely have some questions regarding their size. How big do they get, on average, when can you expect them to reach their full adult size, and so on. Here is all you need to know.
So, how big do Maltese get? Maltese are classified as toy breeds; reaching between 8-10 inches in height and weighing no more than 8 pounds. They typically reach their full adult size in as little as 8 months following birth. Like most other dog breeds, the males are slightly bigger than the females. Either way, you can expect them to mentally mature around the 12-month mark.
The Maltese breed is in fact among the oldest toy breeds in existence. They have a long history dating back at least two millennia! They are so ancient, even Aristotle spoke of them.
Nevertheless, the exact origin of the Maltese is challenging to pinpoint and are somewhat uncertain.
While these dogs may be small, they are certainly regal in appearance and boast a strong personality.
In temperament, they are easy-going, affectionate, and gentle. Pair this with their size and you can see why they are so suitable for apartment living.
Let us now take a closer look at the size expectations of a Maltese, including when you can expect them to reach their full adult size, the time it generally takes for them to reach mental maturity, and the various stages of the process.
Lastly, we will be talking through what you can expect this breed to look like if you did decide to take one in.
So, be sure to keep on reading to get all the information you need regarding this interesting toy breed.
Are There Different Sizes Of Maltese Dogs?
There is only one standard classification for Maltese dogs; they only come as a toy breed.
Maltese typically weigh no more than seven pounds by the time they are fully grown. Males are a little taller than females, usually by an inch or two. That being said, generally, they are never taller than ten inches at the shoulder.
The Maltese is in fact among the smallest breeds available and is comparable to the chihuahua in terms of their size.
While there is in fact only one recognized and authorized size, it is important to note that some illegitimate and irresponsible breeders offer “teacup” Maltese. These are Maltese in the lower end of the weight range, weighing under four pounds as a full-sized adult.
Teacup ‘varieties’ are prone to a host of genetic disorders and have a higher health risk compared with the official, standard toy counterparts.
It comes strongly advised that you do not entertain the idea of getting one or allowing this practice to continue.
Keep in mind; it is impossible for an adult Maltese to be one or two pounds – regardless of what some breeders may advertise and say.
If a genuine purebred Maltese does weigh more than the average (9-11 pounds) and this is due to their build and not being overweight, it is likely that the breeder was not stringent enough in the dog selection process.
A breeder should always breed for the betterment of the progeny and aim to meet the standards.
This is how bloodlines are strengthened, and it allows the breed to continue developing and refining further.
To achieve breeding successes, pedigrees of both sire (males) and dam (females) should be meticulously looked at to ensure that the litter (up to five generations back) has the qualities of the breed standard and are to be passed down.
If the end result is an oversized Maltese, this results in larger than standard puppies that do not fit the criteria of the breed and can cause issues down the line.
Average Maltese Height, Weight, And Size
The average Maltese height is between 8-10 inches for males and 8-9 inches for females. These dogs typically weigh no more than seven pounds by the time they are between six to eight months old.
Like any dog in the toy range, the Maltese was bred as a portable, sweet-matured companion.
It comes as no surprise to learn that they were treasured and pampered by the aristocracy thousands of years ago.
One thing to emphasize is that with this breed, there is very little variation in their final size, however, growth rates can vary between dogs quite a bit.
For this reason, Maltese of the same age can be very different in terms of how much they weigh, regardless of their sex.
By looking at the parental dogs used in breeding, you can get a more accurate picture of what to expect.
That being said, Maltese puppies can exceed the age of their parents when fully grown.
In these instances, it is likely that a dog in the lineage (such as a grandparent) was of a larger disposition.
At What Age Is A Maltese Fully Grown?
Maltese are fully grown by the time they are eight months old; this is typically when they stop growing and are physically at their full adult size.
Maltese may continue to put on weight until they are ten to twelve months – but this differs between dogs and usually comes in the form of muscle.
Toy breeds, like the Maltese, grow rapidly, gaining about one pound a month from ages two to eight months. After eight months, it’s highly unlikely a Maltese will continue to grow.
Let us now take a closer look at the respective weight ranges for each month of life:
|Weight – Low Average
|Weight – High Average
As you can see, there can be quite some variance for Maltese even at the same age. For example, one four-month-old pup could have double the weight of another!
Equally, puppies may differ in size during the various months of early life but end up being the same final adult weight!
When Do Maltese’s Mentally Mature?
The average Maltese will reach full mental maturity within 15 months following birth.
When you consider this breed typically lives in the region of 12-15 years, you do not have much time to enjoy them in the puppy stage.
So, make sure that you cherish and spend as much quality one-to-one time with them as you can during this phase.
Enjoy it for what it is, even if this does mean a little bit of time, effort, and commitment.
On a positive note, it is during the puppy stages that you can form a strong bond with your Maltese; sharing a number of experiences that you will fondly remember for a lifetime.
The truth is, all dogs experience the same mental development stages. However, some breeds go through it quicker than others. For Maltese, they fall somewhere in the middle.
Let’s look at the six stages of puppy mental maturity:
This is the neonatal period, lasting from birth to two weeks of age.
At this stage, your Maltese will double in weight and begin developing a sense of smell.
They need to eat a lot during this time to support their growth, but it should be a high-quality feed designed for puppies.
Equally, they need to sleep a lot to facilitate their growth too. In fact, you can expect to see your dog sleeping for up to 90% of their time during this stage.
This is the transitional period from weeks 2 to 4. Their eyes start opening, and their hearing begins to improve.
They will discover their vocal cords with cute barks and yelps.
- At week three, your puppy may start standing up; some even walk.
- By week four, the puppy will be more independent and playful.
This is the socialization period and is a crucial stage in your puppy’s relationship development. They develop strong bonds with whoever is around and takes care of them the most.
Puppies will transition from their mother’s milk to puppy food; all of this occurs during the 4 to 12-week mark.
This is the juvenile period, and it occurs between the 10 to 16 week period.
Puppies begin to assert themselves more, challenge authority, to decide the pack leader.
They start losing their puppy teeth, and they become much more trainable and open to learning.
This is the adolescence period, the last development phase before your puppy reaches puberty.
Your Maltese will learn basic instincts, such as lifting his leg when urinating.
Your dog will have lots of energy as he prepares for sexual maturity.
This is the final stage before your dog is an adult, at least in terms of size. This phase begins around months two and lasts until they are fully mature, between 12 to 18 months.
At this stage, dogs go through puberty. Male dogs will have increased testosterone, and females begin their menstrual cycle.
It is at this time that you may consider neutering. Although, it comes strongly advised to discuss your options with your vet as it will have repercussions on their personality and behavior.
What Does An Adult Maltese Dog Look Like Fully Grown?
Maltese dogs are one of the few breeds that can look remarkably different depending on their haircut. Some owners like to let their Maltese dogs coats grow out and remain longer in length. Whereas other prefer a shorter coat.
See below, two different haircuts on the Maltese:
Shorter Hair Maltese
Longer Hair Maltese
Either way, the Maltese have a sort of round head with dropped, feathery ears. They have dark button-like eyes with black noses.
These dogs have sloping shoulders, deep chests, and a level topline. As these dogs carry their heads high, their necks are long to support their heads.
They have fine-boned legs will a substantial feathery covering. Maltese have round feet with black paw pads and plumy tails.
The full-grown Maltese coat is spectacular; it’s long and silky, with a center part running the complete length of the back.
A shorter coat is much more manageable from an owner’s perceptive. It is also much more versatile for the dog too!
For both lengths, in order to keep their coat in excellent condition, daily grooming is a must. Typically the longer the coat the more maintenance it needs.
This means a lot of brushing, with appropriate tools. It will also mean occasional bathing, using particular products designed for dogs and their sensitive skin.
Beyond this, regardless of coat length, Maltese are prone to chills due to their single coat. They will naturally struggle to keep warm during the colder seasons; so you will need to support them during this time.
Maltese are generally high-maintenance breeds, so you will need to go above and beyond to keep them clean, comfortable, and hygienic.
Unless your Maltese is for show, you can trim your dog’s hair shorter to a puppy clip or other short styles.
Otherwise, you will need to consider hiring the expertise of a professional dog groomer. Better yet one who has experience in this particular breed – and the different hairstyles they commonly sport.
The Maltese are a spectacular little dog with a fun-loving temperament; friendly with pretty much all people no matter who they may be. They are very social and love being around their owners.
For this reason, amongst others, Maltese are excellent companions with a size that can easily suit apartment living or a much larger home.
Just take into consideration their size when it comes to young children who can easily and inadvertently harm them if they are not careful.
Some other things to consider is that this breed is notoriously difficult to housebreak, and they can be picky eaters.
They are generally quite lively and have a desire to remain active or will easily become bored and destructive. 30 minutes of exercise a day is required at a minimum.
Then again, no pet is perfect and these are the distinct aspects of owning one of these toy dogs.
They do have relatively high grooming requirements, with more effort and commitment required if you do opt for the longer, more luscious coat.
On the plus side, Maltese don’t shed very much and are ideal for allergy sufferers, so there shouldn’t be much hoovering, or concern for those with allergies.
Plus they are highly intelligent and responsive, great attributes for when it comes to training.
All in all, if you are considering this toy breed, then you’ll be making an excellent choice if you do decide to bring one home.
Just be sure to research for reputable breeders and do your research and your due diligence ahead of time.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.