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Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are incredibly cute, popular small dog breeds with plenty of attractive features that make them great pets. But the two have a few differences that make them suitable for slightly different lifestyles and households. It’s always worth doing plenty of research to see which breed best suits you before committing to a new dog.
Continue reading to learn about which of the two you should be getting – if either.
Maltese vs. Maltipoo: A Detailed Comparison
Let’s start by looking at the two breeds side by side.
The Maltese is a small bichon-type dog breed with a long and confusing history.
The breed itself is from around the Mediterranean, with many assuming and believing that the dogs were brought to Malta when the island was colonized by the Phoenicians. They have also been seen to have been around in the Roman Empire and were popular in China in the past, too. But the current standard of Maltese isn’t said to be linked to these ancient dogs by pedigree, instead, it seems that there has been mixing and melding along the way.
The Maltipoo, alternatively, has a much shorter history. It originated in the United States as one of many attempts to create a breed that was small, low shed, and that would happily live as a companion dog. The two parent breeds, the Maltese (as aforementioned) and the Poodle, have much more extensive histories.
Where the Maltese started in Malta, the Poodle can be traced back to Germany, where the Standard Poodle was a water retrieving dog. Their unusual coat allowed them to swim without waterlogging, keeping their vital organs and joints warm and protected.
From there, the smaller variations of the breed came about as a response to a market for smaller breeds, found their way into many circuses and working roles, and became a popular breed to mix with to create designer breeds such as the Maltipoo.
Despite the Maltese being one of Maltipoo’s parent breeds, the two breeds can look incredibly different. For one, the Maltese is significantly smaller. They tend to weigh no more than around 7 pounds, typically sitting between 4 and 7, and they’re usually between 8 to 10 inches tall.
The Maltipoo, on the other hand, can vary greatly in size depending on whether the Poodle parent is a Toy Poodle or a Miniature Poodle. This means that the breed can sit anywhere between 8 and 14 inches tall and can weigh between 5 to 20 pounds.
Coat-wise, the two also differ. Maltese have a long, white silky coat that is prone to getting dirty, stained, and matted. The Maltipoo, however, has a curly, tight coat that can come in colors such as cream, white, and silver.
The Maltese also have dark eyes and a round head, which is one trait that they do share with the Maltipoo.
Small breeds tend to have fairly long life expectancies, and the Maltese is no exception. On average, a well-cared-for Maltese can live for anywhere between 12 and 15 years. The slightly bigger breed, the Maltipoo, is likely to only live for 10 to 13 years.
Both breeds will reach maturity and full size between 12 and 15 months old, which is about average for a small breed.
The Maltese is a playful and sweet dog breed. They are intensely loyal and can be rather protective, but make fantastic pets as they’re always looking for affection and playtime. However, this need for attention can sometimes be the breed’s downfall, as it is part of the reason that they are prone to separation anxiety.
The Maltipoo, likewise, is an affectionate and fun dog. They are smart and gentle and are also incredibly loyal like the Maltese. They have inherited the playfulness and energy of the Poodle and will get on great with other dogs and people.
The Maltese is a relatively smart dog breed that is pretty easy to train, especially if positive reinforcement is used. They are people pleasers and will love rewards, praise, and play in exchange for tricks and skills.
The Maltipoo is a reasonably intelligent dog too, and it is easy to see why; the Poodle is often considered to be one of the most intelligent breeds out there because of their history as working dogs. They have been used for tasks, as assistance dogs, and for agility training. Add on the intelligence of the Maltese and the crossbreed was destined for to be smart.
Often overlooked, grooming is an essential factor to consider when looking at adopting or buying a new dog. Grooming is not cheap, and not all of it can be done at home unless you have been trained to do so. It’s important to consider the cost of grooming and whether it is sustainable for you before committing to a dog.
The Maltese is a relatively high-maintenance dog when it comes to grooming. They need daily brushing, especially when left with long hair. Without this, the coat is prone to matting and this can lead to dirt collecting in the coat and causing irritation. Any mats that are left to form should be worked on with a detangler or conditioner.
On top of this, the Maltese’s ears will need regular cleaning and checking, and may well result in regular vet trips if an odor or sensitivity occurs. The breed grows a lot of hair within the ears and this can cause irritation – the hair must be removed. A vet can show you how to do this.
The Maltese’s nails must also be trimmed once or twice monthly, and their eyes must be washed daily to prevent tear stains. Likewise, many owners choose to wipe the muzzle regularly to prevent water staining from drinking.
Since Maltipoos’ coat is different, they have different grooming needs. They will still need daily brushing to keep the coat free from dirt and mats, as the coat will hold on and collect loose hairs, dirt, and dander. Most importantly, Maltipoos need bathing regularly. Where the coat keeps the loose hair and dirt from dropping, it can create irritation and dirt build up next to the skin. Likewise, the ears will need regular cleaning to prevent infection.
Be sure to also include dental care in your grooming routine for both dogs, as failing to do so can lead to gingivitis, which may make it painful for your furry friend to eat.
Maltese puppies can be expensive, but adoption or fostering is also an option.
Otherwise, you are looking at $600 to $2,000 per puppy, or more for registered kennel club families. For a Maltipoo, you can expect costs to drop due to the lack of pedigree. On average, the breed will cost between $800 and $1,000.
Another important thing to consider is whether the breeds have any health conditions that they are predisposed to. Many of these conditions are manageable or avoidable, but it is always worth knowing what you need to be looking out for.
The Maltese, for example, is prone to patellar luxation, portosystemic liver shunt, progressive retinal atrophy, hypoglycemia, white dog shaker syndrome, collapsed trachea, and reverse sneezing.
The Maltipoo is also prone to patellar luxation, white shaker syndrome, progressive retinal atrophy, and portosystemic shunts, as well as epilepsy and Legg-Calves-Perthes disease.
Maltese vs. Maltipoo: Which Should You Get as a Pet?
Whilst all of the above is incredibly valuable information to know, there are a few key details that can make or break a decision when it comes to getting a dog. First of all, is that breed suited to your lifestyle?
With Maltese, they are fantastic companion dogs who will show you love at every opportunity. However, they also develop separation anxiety and depression incredibly easily, and so are poorly suited to those who shoot off to work for large chunks of the day. If you leave your Maltese alone to develop such issues, you are likely to see temperament changes, poor diet, whining, destructive behavior, and potential snappiness.
The Maltipoo, however, is completely fine to be left at home alone for short periods of time (a few hours or so), and with training, may be able to handle longer. However, they do still have a slight predisposition to developing anxiety, so be careful with how long they’re left for and ensure that there is enough around to keep them mentally stimulated.
Likewise, if you have children or there are regular child visitors to your home, the Maltese may not be the best call. Fine with older children who are able to respect boundaries and take care, the Maltese struggle to be around younger children. They are often snappy towards them and may feel left out if the focus is on the child. Maltipoos on the other hand are fine with children of all ages, so long as the children are careful not to hurt the small dog.
Whilst both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are brilliant dogs to have around, it is important to remember that they both require a decent amount of exercise (about an hour a day), as well as mental stimulation and affection. It is also important to note whether or not either breed will fit in with your current lifestyle.
For those who stay at home, perhaps retirees or those working from home with no children, a Maltese will be the perfect addition to your household so long as you can take the time to groom them. For more family-oriented people, a Maltipoo is a great, trainable, small, family dog who will fit in your apartment or home wonderfully.