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The Maltese and the Poodle are breeds that are quite different from one another, even though the Toy Poodle may be a similar size to the Maltese. That being said, both breeds can make wonderful pets so long as they are put into the right environment – they just suit different lifestyles.
Continue reading to learn more about them and see which one – if either – you should be getting.
Maltese vs. Poodle: A Detailed Comparison
Let’s start by comparing the two breeds side by side.
The Maltese and the Poodle are both old breeds, albeit the Maltese is the older of the two.
The Maltese is classed as an ancient toy breed, and its exact origins are shrouded in mystery. There are theories that it originated on the Isle of Malta, developing from spitz-type dogs from around the Mediterannean, or that perhaps it developed in Italy. Some experts even think that the breed is a descendant of East Asian spitz-types.
Wherever the Maltese came from, it has been a well-loved and adored breed for many, many years. It was a favorite of the British royal family in the late 16th century, and then, in the 18th century became a beloved part of the French aristocracy and members of their royal family, too. In the 17th/18th century, the breed was bred too small, and almost became extinct, but was luckily saved by adding in Spaniel breeds and East Asian breeds.
In 1888, the Maltese was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. It is one of the several different bichon-type breeds.
Alternatively, the Poodle’s history is very concrete. Originating in Germany, the Poodle developed in the 14th century when they were bred for hunting. Specifically, the breed was designed to hunt waterfowl. The breed eventually traveled across the continent and into France, where they became increasingly popular.
Their popularity continued to grow, and in the 1400s, the French bred small Poodles together to create the Toy Poodle and the Miniature Poodle. The Toy Poodle was an instant hit among the rich and the Miniature Poodle became a truffle-hunting breed. Their larger relative, the Standard Poodle, remained a hunting dog.
After some time, all three types of Poodles found their way to the United States, and they were eventually accepted as a breed by the AKC in 1886.
The Maltese is a small dog, measuring only 8 to 10 inches tall, and weighing 7 pounds or less. It has silky white, long, and straight hair that covers the body. Unlike the spitz-types that it is thought to have descended from, it has a rounded skull and black nose with drop ears, and short legs.
The Poodle, on the other hand, comes in 3 separate sizes. The Toy Poodle will be around 10 inches tall, weighing between 6 and 9 pounds. The Miniature Poodle is usually around 11 to 15 inches tall, weighing around 15 to 17 pounds, and the Standard Poodle will typically be anything larger than that.
But despite all their size differences, these three sub-groups of Poodle all look very similar. They have a thick, curly dense coat that can be blue, white, gray, brown, silver, apricot, or cream. All three will also have a slender build with a thin tail.
The Maltese has a reasonably long lifespan due to its small size. Likewise, the Miniature and Toy Poodle breeds are quite small and thus have longer life expectancies than their larger counterpart. This is simply due to the speed of metabolism in larger breeds being faster, and therefore the breeds growing quicker. This, in turn, leads to structural injuries in puppies, as well as a rate of maturity that can lead to age-related health conditions sooner than in smaller breeds.
That being said, the Maltese has an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, which is very similar to the Toy and Miniature Poodle, whose life expectancy is 14 to 16 years. The Standard Poodle, however, has an average lifespan of only 11 to 13 years.
As puppies, both breeds will grow pretty quickly. The Maltese will reach their full size by the time it is one year old, and the Toy and Miniature Poodles will get there by the time they are 6 or 7 months old. The Standard Poodle is slightly slower to grow as a puppy, reaching its full size before the age of 2 years old.
The two breeds have some similarities when it comes to their temperament, but there are also some key differences. The Maltese is a lively and fun dog that loves people and will form close bonds with his family very quickly. The breed is sweet and trusting, and often ends up being quite a spoilt dog breed, simply due to the fact that he is incredibly hard to say no to!
The Poodle is also very loving, they are very goofy and playful and as a breed, they are known for their unbreaking loyalty to their owners, but they do tend to have a rather spoilt “regal” attitude. They often seem to think that they are too good for other dogs, tasks, toys – you name it. But despite this, most Poodle owners will report that they are a joy to have around, and will make any home that little bit more lively.
This is another point that demonstrates the key differences between the Maltese and the Poodle. Whilst it is fair to say that both breeds are intelligent, the Poodle definitely outsmarts the Maltese. The Maltese is relatively intelligent and does train well as it is inherently a breed that is eager to please – especially if positive reinforcement is used.
Give a Maltese some treats as a bribe, and they’ll spend all day training with you!
But Poodles are another level of smart. They are thought to be one of the most intelligent breeds out there, and this is likely related to the fact that they have been used for tracking, hunting, and chasing since their breed developed. They are very easy to train and have a great attention span.
This characteristic means that they are often used as show dogs and Poodles can almost always be found in agility performances. But, it also means that they can make very well-behaved, fun pets to have around the home.
When it comes to grooming, the two breeds are both quite high-maintenance. The Maltese’s long, flowing coat often mats and so requires daily brushing and combing from the owner. The breed is also white, which means dirt and marks show up very quickly, so the breed often requires very regular bathing, too.
In between bathing, owners will need to wipe Maltese’s faces regularly to avoid food stains and tear stains on the white coat. Dental care, ear checking, and eye checking will also need to happen on at least a weekly basis.
Likewise, the Poodle’s dense, tightly curled coat will need regular trims and brushes. The breed will likely need a haircut every 3 to 6 weeks to keep the hair from knotting or becoming unruly. Bathing should be done as and when necessary, and like with the Maltese, eye, ear, and dental hygiene must also be stayed on top of.
Failing to do so may result in conditions such as rashes, periodontitis (gum disease), and discomfort.
When looking at getting a dog, it is important for potential owners to consider the costs involved. This includes the upfront cost of purchasing said dog, but it also includes the cost of feeding the breed each month as well as things like veterinary insurance. For the latter, it is worth speaking to your local vet to see what plans they have on offer for the breeds you are considering.
For a Maltese, owners should expect to pay between $600 and $2,000 for a puppy – or less if rescuing, purchasing an older dog, or adopting – and then an additional $50 to $80 each month in food.
For Poodles, the price ranges depending on the size. Toy Poodles and Miniature Poodles will cost between $1,000 and $1,200. A Standard Poodle will cost between $700 and $1,500. To feed, the Poodle will cost around the same as the Maltese – between $50 and $80 per month.
One of the factors that affect the price of veterinary insurance, and subsequently how much you will need to spend each month on a dog is the health conditions that the breed is predisposed to. Every breed is prone to a certain number of health issues, and most of the time these conditions can be avoided or managed with adequate care, but it is useful to know about them to ensure that you are prepared.
For example, the Maltese is prone to patellar luxation, portosystemic liver shunt, progressive retinal atrophy, hypoglycemia, white dog shaker syndrome, collapsed trachea, and reverse sneezing. The Poodle, on the other hand, is prone to Addison’s disease, gastric dilatation-volvulus, Cushing’s disease, epilepsy, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and eye problems.
The smaller two of the Poodles, the Toy and Miniature, as well as the Maltese, are certainly well suited to most living spaces. Whether an apartment with or without a yard or a home, these breeds should be absolutely fine so long as they are given enough exercise on a regular basis. They should have enough space to run and play, sleep, and somewhere safe to eat and go to the bathroom, but so long as that is supplied, they will be more than happy.
The Standard Poodle should be alright within an apartment, but it is worth considering that the breed has a substantial amount of energy, and so may find an apartment a little bit claustrophobic. The breed may also become destructive if not given enough exercise, and this can cause issues.
Maltese vs. Poodle: Which Should You Get as a Pet?
In addition to all of the above, potential owners should also consider which of these breeds best suits their routines and lifestyles.
Anyone who works away from home, for example, and cannot be there during the day, needs a breed that can happily survive time alone. The Maltese, unfortunately, is not one of these breeds. At most, the breed can handle around 2 hours of time alone. The Poodle is slightly better equipped, and can handle around a morning or an afternoon alone, but not the whole day.
Potential owners should also be sure to think about any pets they may already have. Not all breeds get on well with other dogs, so this is an important consideration to make. The Maltese, for example, can live with other dogs but only if socialized well enough at a young age. The Poodle is more than happy to live with other pets, and will often get along with pretty much anyone. Socializing is still important, though.
Likewise, those with children should consider the safety of both their dog and child. The Maltese is not well-suited to households with small children simply due to their size. The Poodle, size-dependent, is more than happy to live with children. The breed loves being the center of attention and will play with anyone that’s happy to give them the time of day!
Toy and Miniature Poodles are similar, in some respects, to the Maltese. They are both small, cuddly dogs with lots of love to give but who require a fair amount of maintenance on a daily basis. Neither breed is well equipped to handle much time alone, but both can handle living in smaller spaces without issue.
The larger, Standard Poodle, is a little bit more robust than the smaller breeds, and where the others may struggle in households with children, it will thrive.