Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Which Breed to Get?

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Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles SpanielThe Maltese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are both silky soft long-haired dogs that have remained popular for a very long time. As such, many people find themselves debating between the two breeds for their next pet.

But are the two breeds similar in any way? Do they suit similar households? These are both things that are important to consider. Continue reading to find out which – if either – of the two you should be getting.

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Maltese and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel History

Both the Maltese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel have long histories, but the Maltese’s history is by far the longer of the two. The breed is known as an ancient toy breed, although exactly how ancient, experts are unsure, as their history is rather mysterious and hard to pin down.

One theory is that the Maltese originated in Malta, hence the name, and that the breed developed from spitz-type dogs from around the Mediterranean. Alternatively, there is a theory that the breed developed in Italy, and developed in a similar way. There are even experts who believe that the dog is a descendant of East Asian spitz-types.

Regardless of this bichon-type breed’s exact history, it is clear that it has been a favorite of many for a long time.

The breed was a favorite among the British royals for a while in the late 16th century, and found its way into the hearts of French aristocrats, too. After almost being bred too small and bordering on extinct in the 18th century, the breed was so well-beloved that efforts were made to save it by breeding with Spaniels and East Asian breeds.

On the other hand, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s origins are well known. The breed is the descendant of the Spaniels that featured heavily in portraits from 16th century England. Getting their name from the “merry monarch” of Britain, the breed was a favorite of royals, so much so that King Charles himself made it a legal requirement to allow the breed into any public building!

Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: What Are the Breeds Like?

With the history lesson out of the way, let’s compare the two breeds based on a number of different aspects.


Both relatively small, the dogs share a few things in common when it comes to their appearance, but are generally quite different.

The Maltese will usually measure between 8 and 10 inches tall and will weigh around 7 pounds, whereas the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will measure between 12 to 13 inches tall and will weigh around 13 to 18 pounds.

The Maltese has silky white, long straight hair that completely covers the body. It has a rounded skull with a black nose, dropped ears, and short legs, which are unusual for a breed thought to have developed from spitz-types.

The Cavalier King Charles, alternatively, have large round eyes, a full muzzle, and high set, long feathered ears. Their coats can come in red, Blenheim, black, tan, or tricolor.

Life Expectancy and Aging Profile

As small breeds, the Maltese and the Cavalier King Charles benefit from a slower metabolism and growth rate than larger breeds. Their metabolism means that they grow slower and mature slower, developing fewer conditions that result in fatality.

This explains why the Maltese has an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, and will usually reach its full size by the age of one year old. The Cavalier King Charles has a similar life expectancy of 9 to 14 years, usually reaching its full size at around 18 months old.


Temperament is incredibly important when it comes to choosing a new dog breed. It is essential in order to make sure that the breed you’re bringing home will get on well with you and your household.

The Maltese is a very lively and fun dog. The breed loves people and will form very close bonds with its family very quickly. The Maltese is sweet, trusting, and lovely to have around. They are goofy, playful, and excitable.

They do, however, often end up being rather spoilt as many owners find them very hard to say no to!

The Cavalier King Charles is an equally happy, friendly dog. The breed is incredibly affectionate and cuddly, and is loved for its cuddly and devoted nature.

Forever loyal, the breed bonds very strongly with their families and will show nonstop love and affection to those they care for. Naturally, of course, the breed has the energy of a spaniel, too, meaning they can be really entertaining to have around!


Both breeds are relatively easy to train, but their intelligence does differ. The Maltese is an intelligent breed and will train without much effort. They are eager to please and love positive reinforcement. Using treats will help, but the Maltese will learn with or without a bribe.

The Cavalier King Charles is not incredibly intelligent, but the breed loves to please people. It is so obedient and happy to do anything asked of them. Owners should be aware that the breed may take a little longer than other breeds to understand more complex tasks.

Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Which One Is Easier to Keep?

With getting a dog being a responsibility first and foremost, let’s take a look at what it takes to take care of these two dogs properly.

Required Living Space

The Maltese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are both smaller breeds, so they can thrive in both a smaller flat or larger home.

So long as both breeds are provided with sufficient regular exercise and mental stimulation, they will excel in any environment. The breeds require enough space to sleep and rest comfortably, as well as enough space to run around and play inside.


The Maltese is a relatively high-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming.

The breed’s long, flowing coat needs daily brushing and will need to be bathed regularly, as the breed’s white coat often develops marks, and stains, and collects visible dirt. Therefore, owners will need to wipe their Maltese’s face after eating, drinking, etc. to minimize dirt.

Dental care, ear, and eye cleaning, and nail clipping are also essential.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel will also require regular grooming. The breed needs to be brushed and bathed regularly. Brushing should be done several times a week, and bathing will be required every 2 to 4 weeks depending on the weather and what the dog has been up to.

This breed also requires regular ear and eye cleaning to prevent infection and should have its teeth brushed regularly.

Walking and Exercise

It is really important to ensure that any dog is getting enough exercise on a daily basis, but with small dogs, this is even more important, as they are often prone to weight problems.

In order to prevent this and to keep the dog stimulated, owners should provide a Maltese with 30 minutes of exercise each day, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel with an hour of exercise each day.

This can be in the form of running, jogging, walking, swimming, athletic training or even just purpose-led play.

Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: How Much Do They Cost?

Cost is another essential factor to consider when looking at getting a dog. Buying puppies will easily be the most expensive option. If cost is a concern for you, it is always worth looking at avenues such as adoption and rescue.

Otherwise, for a Maltese, owners can expect to pay between $600 and $2,000 for a puppy, as well as monthly costs of around $50 to $80 in food. For a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, on the other hand, owners can expect prices to fall between $800 and $2,500, with monthly costs on top.

In addition to food, owners should be aware that monthly costs can add up. Things like grooming, veterinary insurance, veterinary bills, toys, vaccines, and treats, can all increase the financial strain that a dog may bring. It is worth doing a full budget before choosing your dog breed, taking into consideration any health concerns that they may have (these may cost you more in insurance!).

Maltese vs. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

Of course, there is more to choosing a dog breed than the breed’s basic traits – it is also useful to know how well they are likely to gel with your household dynamic and routine.

For example, those with children need to be sure that both their child and dog will be happy and safe. In this case, the Cavalier King Charles is definitely the breed for anyone with children, but the Maltese is less comfortable around them due to its small size.

It is also important to know whether or not the breed will get on with other pets. Some dogs can show aggression to other dogs, and this is best to be avoided. With these two breeds, both will be fine with most pets so long as they are adequately socialized. For puppies, this will mean bringing them together with the other pet at a young age.

Another thing to think about is how often you will be home as an owner. Many dogs are more than happy to chill out at home on their own, but this is not a guarantee. If you work at an office and will be out at work for hours at a time, you need a breed that can cope with that – unfortunately, neither the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel nor the Maltese is well adapted to time alone.


The Maltese and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are both small dogs with fun, loving natures. They can make great pets so long as you have the time to spend at home with them and the time to keep them well-groomed!

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