Maltese vs. Golden Retriever: Which Breed to Get?

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Maltese vs. Golden RetrieverGentle and smart, Maltese and Golden Retrievers are two of the most popular dog breeds in the world.

If you are considering adopting one of them, read on to find out everything there is to know about them, including their personality, what the breed is like, and what you should expect, so you know which one suits you best.

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Maltese and Golden Retriever History

Maltese dogs have a history of hundreds of years. It is believed they first appeared in the Mediterranean region of Malta, hence the name of the breed. The small, white pooch has been very popular over the years; it was admired by Aristotle, and even depicted on ancient Greek pottery. Back then, the breed was a status symbol, so it was very popular among the nobility.

It is one of the several different types of bichon breeds.

Golden Retrievers are native to the Scottish Highlands. Unlike the Maltese, which has always been a companion dog, Golden Retrievers are working dogs. The Scottish men used these dogs to retrieve birds shot down by hunters. Due to the local landscape, these dogs had to move quickly through ponds and marshes.

Maltese vs. Golden Retriever: What Are the Breeds Like?

Below, we’ll look at what these two breeds are like.


The playful Maltese grows up to 7”-9” in height and often weighs less than 7 lbs, which classifies it as a toy breed. The small, well-proportioned body has a white, fluffy coat. The fur is considered hypoallergenic as the dog doesn’t shed much.

The Golden Retriever is a large breed, often reaching 22”-24” at maturity and about 60 lbs in weight. The sturdy body is resistant and well-built for hunting and swimming. The athletic dog has deep and wide eyes and a long, straight coat that repels water. As the name suggests, these dogs are all shades of gold or cream.

Life Expectancy and Aging Profile

Smaller breeds usually have a longer lifespan than larger ones, so a Maltese may reach up to 15 years, while a Golden Retriever usually lives a maximum of 12 years. With proper nutrition, lifestyle, and care, your puppy’s life can be extended significantly compared to this average.


Maltese dogs are people-pleasers. They get lonely very quickly, so the right family should always be available to cuddle and play with the pooch. These dogs are excellent therapy partners and are very loyal, and even alert. They are considered good watchdogs, despite their small size, so they are quite loud if someone or something approaches their territory.

The Maltese makes quick friends with kids and other pets, including cats. However, they may not be a good choice if you have other larger pets at home, such as larger dogs, or very small kids, as Maltese dogs can be injured quite easily.

Golden Retrievers are hard workers, but this doesn’t mean that they are not exceptionally friendly, loving, and kind. Their temperament is ideal for families with kids, as they are social and outgoing. They are not good guardians as their friendly temperament means that they will make quick friends with all pets and strangers alike.


Maltese dogs are loving, friendly, and loyal. They are also intelligent and curious, so they generally enjoy learning new tricks. For a well-rounded adult dog, socialization and training should start from puppyhood.

Golden Retrievers are intelligent and playful, which means that they are a good choice even for inexperienced pet owners. They are people-pleasers, so training is quite easy as long as you keep sessions short and interesting.

They love to play games and retrieve things, so you could use these to make training effortless. Thanks to their intelligence, these dogs have long been used in many work fields, including police work, therapy, or rescue parties.

Maltese vs. Golden Retriever: Which One Is Easier to Keep?

Next, we’ll look at which breed is easier to keep.

Required Living Space

The Maltese breed is extremely adaptable when it comes to living spaces. Whether you have a small and cozy apartment, or a large country house, this pooch will adapt very quickly.

If you live in an apartment, you may need to be wary of barking when strangers approach – nonetheless, this makes the breed a great option if you want a trustworthy watchdog.  Perhaps the most important factor to consider is that the breed will not do well on its own, so regardless of the living space, someone should always be at home with the pooch, otherwise, it may develop separation anxiety and destructive behaviors.

A Golden Retriever is significantly larger and more active, so your home should be large enough for it to move around without trouble. A large country house is a great environment for the breed, and a large household – potentially with kids as well – is ideal.

However, as long as you provide plenty of exercise and games, this pooch may also adapt to apartment living, although having a large yard where it can play and roam will make everything easier. As mentioned, they are born to retrieve, so it’s best to have the right environment to keep them busy and happy.


The Maltese has a long, silky coat that just keeps growing. If you want to keep the coat long, you need to care for it every day. The slightly wavy, fluffy texture makes it prone to tangles, so routine grooming is a must. Daily brushing is required for long coats; if you opt for a short trim, 2-3 times per week is sufficient. As the coat just keeps growing, you need to schedule regular trims.

Golden Retrievers have medium-length, straight hair. While Maltese are considered hypoallergenic because they don’t shed much, Golden Retrievers are not a good choice if you suffer from allergies. They shed heavily twice per year, and moderately all the time. If you schedule regular brushing, you can keep shedding to a minimum as you brush the hairs before they fall all over your home.

Overall, caring for a Golden Retriever is considerably easier than for a Maltese. Nonetheless, both breeds require frequent baths to keep them clean, regular teeth brushing to keep oral problems at bay, trimmed nails (when necessary), and weekly ear checking. In addition to this, the Maltese may get tear stains underneath the eyes, so you need to pay extra attention to the eye area, especially as long hair can cause irritation.

Walking and Exercise

The Maltese requires about 30 minutes of light activity per day to stay healthy. This can be short walks or indoor playtime. Thanks to their small body, they don’t need much space or time when it comes to daily activity.

The Golden Retriever is a much more active dog. It is best for active households with access to a yard where the pooch can run, retrieve things, and play with dog toys. Walking or going to dog parks are also good options if you live in an apartment. These pooches love carrying things in their mouth, so having chew bones or other toys is a great way to satisfy this need.

Maltese vs. Golden Retriever: How Much Do They Cost?

The price of a purebred puppy depends on your location, the reputation of the breeder, and how popular the breed is in your area. In general, a Maltese puppy may cost between $600 to $800. A Golder Retriever will typically be more expensive, so you should expect to pay between $1,000 and $4,000. If you want a puppy descended from award-winning bloodlines, you will have to cover a much higher price.

Maltese vs. Golden Retriever: Which Should You Get as a Pet?

Based on the sections above, it should be fairly easy to choose between a Maltese and a Golden Retriever.

On the one hand, a Maltese requires much attention and is not suitable for very busy individuals. This pooch is often a great choice for seniors, single-person households, or even families with older kids. The small body can be easily injured, so kids should treat this pooch with care and always be supervised by adults.

The breed is quite versatile, doesn’t need much activity per day, and is suitable for people suffering from allergies. The long coat requires significant grooming and maintenance to be kept healthy and clean. It’s an excellent watchdog but may bark quite a lot if you live in a busy area. However, with proper training and socialization, a Maltese puppy can adapt to just about any lifestyle and household.

On the other hand, Golden Retrievers are the top choice of many families. It is the most recommended breed for those with kids because of its friendly, kind, and patient personality. This pooch will be quick friends with the little ones and even protect them if needed.

The Golden Retriever may also be suitable for aging adults, but choosing a mature dog with previous training is encouraged. Also, this breed requires significantly more activity than a Maltese and will love to join you in any adventure, whether it is hiking, swimming, or going on a trip.


If you are looking for a great companion and a cuddly, small-sized dog, a Maltese is most likely what you need. It is not a very active breed but is extremely loyal and good-natured.

However, if you are searching for the perfect family dog to play with and protect your little ones, a Golden Retriever is sure to win your heart. This well-mannered dog is more active but extremely devoted to its family and a great pleasure to have around.

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