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If you want a gentle, playful, and affectionate pup, getting either a bichon frise, a Maltese, or a Havanese may be a great choice for you. Being breeds from the same broader family, they have numerous similarities, traits, and behaviors. That said, there are also notable differences between them.
The following sections include a detailed comparison of the three dog breeds, so you can make an informed decision if you want to get a loving, smart, and playful pup for your family.
Bichon Frise vs. Maltese vs. Havanese: A Detailed Comparison
Let’s jump right in and see how these three breeds compare based on a number of different factors.
Bichon frise is a mischievous, active small dog with an uncertain origin. It is believed to be a descendent of the barbet as “bichon” comes from the word “barbichon,” the diminutive of the word barbet. The barbichon family also includes the Havanese and the Maltese breeds, and they are native to the Mediterranean region.
The Maltese dates back approximately 2,000 years, so it is considered to be one of the oldest toy breeds.
As they are members of the same family, the three breeds have several common characteristics. Maltese, Havanese, and bichons frises are similar in size. That said, the Maltese can be slightly smaller and lighter than the other two. While they can be extremely cute, it is better for you to avoid “teacup” bichon frise and Maltese pups because weighing less than 4 pounds at maturity makes your pooch prone to genetic disorders and many health issues.
Bichons are always white with a puffy, cloudy look, while Malteses have a long silky coat with white, smooth locks. On the other hand, Havanese pups have a longer double coat that feels silky and lightweight and may come in shades of brown.
All three breeds reach adulthood once they turn one year old. That said, the Havanese does reach full size at 6 to 8 months old.
In terms of lifespan, the three toy breeds live between 12 and 15 years on average.
Unsurprisingly, the three related dog breeds have numerous traits in common when it comes to their temperament. For instance, Havanese and bichon frise are both well-mannered, love human companionship, and are extremely affectionate. The Havanese dog breed used to be known as the “Velcro dog” because it gets very attached to its owners.
These dog breeds make for excellent apartment pets, although they do require plenty of exercise. You should take the pups out for long walks or play in the park to support their development.
Bichons frises are often considered great therapy dogs because of their sweet, loving personality. However, you should not overprotect your bichon pup because a spoiled pooch will become fearful and very shy. Havanese also adores their human and is extremely energetic; they can also be trained to support people with disabilities.
Maltese, bichons frises, and Havanese are great family pets, too. Bichons can be friends with kids or other pets, although the Maltese dogs are not as tolerant. Due to their small, fragile appearance, they may not be the best pets for a household with small kids as they can get easily injured. Maltese can also become quite jealous of kids or other dogs in the household due to their protective nature, especially if they are pampered by their owners.
The three small breeds are prone to separation anxiety if you leave them alone for a long time. This leads to destructive behaviors, barking, and other problems that can become serious in the long term.
The Maltese is known for its alert eyes and intelligent, devoted personality. All three breeds can learn new tricks very easily as long as they receive plenty of praise and treats. They are playful, but some owners might find them quite resilient.
If you do not have experience training pups, you may want to contact a professional to help you with basic training.
Other Things to Consider
These small breeds have several common health issues you should take into account before adopting one. For instance, both bichons frises and Malteses require frequent grooming and a robust cleaning routine. At the same time, Havanese have a long coat that requires consistent grooming. Some owners opt for a professional groomer that keeps the coat clean, untangled, cleans the pup’s ears and eyes, cuts nails regularly, and all the other tasks you should do on a frequent basis to keep it healthy.
Maltese are prone to digestive issues and joint problems. Bichons may suffer from allergies, joint issues, and bladder stones.
Another thing that the Maltese can have an issue with is that their long coat that falls to the floor is parted, and the exposed skin can easily get sunburnt. They should also avoid damp areas or staying wet because they are prone to chills.
If you prefer a hypoallergenic dog, you may want to choose either a bichon frise or a Havanese as they don’t shed as much as other dogs. On the other hand, Malteses don’t have a double coat, so they might still shed a little. That said, even they are still considered a hypoallergenic breed.
All breeds require frequent grooming to avoid tangled coats and associated health issues. Overall, however, the bichon frises is the highest maintenance of the three.
Bichon Frise vs. Maltese vs. Havanese: Which Should You Get as a Pet?
All pups come with a temperament based on the early training and education they receive from you or their previous family – and some other quirks that make them all special. This is often inherited from their parents, too, so it may be a good idea to see the pup’s mother before adopting your pooch.
If you have small kids in your household or other pets, bichons and Havanese dogs will be able to adapt to the new environment. In case you live alone and you prefer a hypoallergenic pup, any of the three breeds may be suitable for your needs, although Maltese dogs do shed more than the other two breeds.
You need to make sure that you or your family members have enough time to spend with your pet. They can suffer from separation anxiety and must enjoy plenty of exercise each day, so they are recommended for people with lots of free time.
Whether it’s a long walk or an interactive ball game, these pups will love spending time with you while burning their extra energy.
With very playful personalities, bichons frises, Maltesese, and Havanese may bring lots of joy and happiness to any loving family. They are intelligent, can be trained with ease when using the right methods, and thrive on human interaction. You need to spend sufficient time training and grooming them, although they are known for their protective, loving personality that will reward you with lots of affection and happy memories.
I would highly recommend getting a bichon frise simply because it’s the one that I have first hand experience with. However, all in all, all three of these breeds can make for excellent companions and will stay your family for well over a decade if healthy.
If you still can’t decide between a bichon frise and a Maltese, you might also want to consider getting a maltichon to get the best of both worlds so to speak.
Considering Other Breeds Too?
See how bichon frise compares with: Beagle | Bolognese | Boston Terrier | Brussels Griffon | Cavachon | Cavalier King Charles Spaniel | Cavapoo | Chihuahua | Cockapoo | Coton de Tulear | French Bulldog | German Shepherd | Golden Retriever | Goldendoodle | Havanese | Labrador Retriever | Lhasa Apso | Maltese | Maltipoo | Papillon | Pomeranian | Poochon | Poodle | Pug | Samoyed | Schnauzer | Scottish Terrier | Shetland Sheepdog | Shichon | Shih Tzu | West Highland Terrier | Yorkshire Terrier