General Tips About Maltese
It would be really difficult to find a more charming breed than the Maltese. Their intelligence and out-going personality make them a joy to own and their beauty attracts many admirers. Although the Maltese is a toy dog, this small breed is full of delightful personality with a zest for life. Their small size makes them easy to manage and they fit in with nearly anyone's lifestyle - from simple apartment living to being a world-wide traveler with a glamorous owner such as Elizabeth Taylor! The Maltese is happy to be your companion - ready to play and take walks or curl up in your lap.
Maltese and Children
Maltese love children, but do not always make the best pet for a child too young to understand that these dogs can be seriously hurt by rough handling. If you have a very young child and plan to add a Maltese to your household, be careful to supervise their time together and teach the child that the fragile build of the Maltese calls for gentle care.
There are no "set" prices for Maltese puppies. Prices vary from breeder to breeder and from one area of the country to another. This is not the time to "bargain hunt". Pet shop prices are usually as much as or more than a breeder's puppies. Chances are that veterinary bills for a pet shop puppy will be higher than a puppy bought from a breeder which is something to consider. Some breeders offer price options such as a reduced price on a puppy that is sold on a spay/neuter contract.
Finding the Breeder
Impulse buying can be fun as long as it's for new clothes and not a living being that will depend on you for love and care the rest of its life. So, since you have decided to own a Maltese, you will need to locate a breeder.
A pet shop is not a good place to purchase your Maltese. Most of these dogs come from commercial breeding farms (aka puppy mills) concerned only with producing for the retail market. Little or no concern is given to the quality, socialization, care or even health of the animals. Answering newspaper ads are another source that can be risky. Try to locate a dedicated, experienced breeder-exhibitor. The goals of these breeders are to improve the breed and they spare no expense in trying to breed the best Maltese they can. By contacting a breeder, you will have the opportunity to see where your puppy was raised and, possibly, see several generations of ancestors. The personality and appearance of these older dogs is a good indicator of how the puppies will mature. Adult Maltese should be friendly, confident and appear healthy, clean and well groomed. When you choose a puppy from a breeder/exhibitor, you will have someone to call on for advice and assistance in all aspects of puppy care. A breeders' commitment to his puppies is lifelong and he will welcome hearing from you, now and for the lifetime of your Maltese. To enable you to find a breeder in your area, the American Maltese Association can provide a list of its members.
Pet or Show?
One question you will be asked by the breeder is whether you want your Maltese to show or as a pet. A very young puppy can have "show potential", but cannot be guaranteed show quality. If you intend to show your Maltese, you should consider an older puppy - between 6-12 months of age - as the breeder can better determine if the puppy conforms to the standard.
Many people who want a "pet quality" do not understand why buying from a pet store is not a good idea. Many of the qualities which breeders select in their efforts to produce a show dog are also essential for pets. The parents of your pet puppy represent years of knowledge and study. They were bred to produce the best in temperament, conformation, coat, intelligence, health and soundness. Those puppies who do not meet the rigid show requirements possess all the same essential inherited qualities of the puppy who is a showable specimen. Your pet puppy will be a dog others will admire and one you will be proud to own.
Male or Female?
Actually either sex makes satisfactory pets. The male Maltese is equally as affectionate and loving as the female. A neutered male does not "mark" his territory if he is properly housebroken and neutered at an appropriate age nor does he exhibit other undesirable traits associated with male dogs. You have picked a breed in which there are generally more male puppies born in a litter than females. For that reason, it may be hard to find an available female as some breeders tend to keep those females for future breeding. If a breeder feels that a dog is not of breeding quality, although it would make an excellent pet, he may obtain a limited registration certificate for such a dog. This means that the offspring of the dog cannot be AKC registered. Breeders will prefer you to spay or neuter your pet Maltese to prevent breeding and future health problems.
When you find a breeder you like, spend time discussing your family and lifestyle. Then allow your breeder to help pick a puppy for you as he has spent weeks or months with the puppies and knows their personality and temperament. The reputable breeder wants you to have the puppy that best suits you and with which you will be happy. If you aren't happy, he knows the puppy won't be happy, either. Most reputable breeders require unwanted puppies be returned to them.
Depending on your lifestyle, if the breeder suggests that an older puppy or young adult would be better for you, keep an open mind and consider the possibility. People who are away from home for eight or more hours a day are not ideally suited to raising a very young puppy. Breeders sometimes have older puppies that they have held on to as potential show prospects. These older puppies will be house-trained much sooner than a very young puppy. If they have been well socialized, they may be the ideal choice for a working family. In some circumstances an adult dog may be available.
Older Maltese are very adaptable to new environments and quickly make themselves part of their new family, allowing those who could not raise a young puppy to have the company of a Maltese.
Crate Training - What
it's all about!
Most experienced dog people are advocates of crate training - a method of dog management which involves keeping the dog confined in a crate. Crating is especially appropriate for Maltese because they are small; they take well to crating and thus can avoid many risks.
Crating aids in housetraining. The fact that dogs are disinclined to relieve themselves where they have to sleep is an important factor in teaching toilet habits. A Maltese over 6 months old can usually "hold it" 8 hours is kept quiet in a crate while his owner is working or sleeping.
The owner of a crated Maltese never comes home to a potty mess on the rug, chewed electric cords or unraveled toilet paper! A crated Maltese is safer from burglars, service people, other dogs and visiting children. When the crated Maltese goes away from home, he's less likely to pick up germs or become lost, stolen, or hurt. Hotels are more likely to accept a dog they know will be confined to a crate.
When a Maltese is used to a crate, confinement at a veterinary hospital is not so bad. Likewise, the crate-trained Maltese is not overly stressed when he has to be confined for unusual situations like traveling, moving, boarding, when a female is in heat, or recuperation from an illness.
An investment in a crate is small compared to cleaning or replacing carpet or vet. bills for a broken leg. A crate or exercise pen approx. 2' x 3' is a good size to consider especially if the dog will be confined for several hours. For short term or for traveling, a lightweight Vari-Kennel #100 or #200 is a good choice. All things considered, a Maltese in a crate is a safe, not sorry, sight.
Remember that a young puppy does not have complete control over its elimination - the smaller the breed, the more often they must go. Frequent trips to the yard (or papers if you want a paper-trained dog) are very necessary in the first weeks. Do not play or talk to the puppy on these outings; he is learning that this is the elimination time; not play time. Always take him to the same area for this purpose. When he goes, lavish praise to reinforce his behavior - and then allow him in to play. If, within a reasonable amount of time, he doesn't go, it's a good idea to put him back in his crate for a short time and then try again later.
Use frequent periods of crate time to advantage (young puppies need a lot of rest anyway) to avoid mistakes in the house. The trick is to prevent mistakes from happening in the first place so don't hesitate to confine him especially when you are too busy to watch him. Your love and approval are necessary to your puppy and he will do anything to earn them.
Health and Feeding
The American Maltese Association highly recommends that you do not purchase a puppy under 12 weeks of age. A puppy under this age is subject to stress from conditions such as overhandling and not getting enough rest or refusing to eat due to changes in home and/or food. This stress can result in "hypoglycemia" - a condition in which the blood-sugar level drops causing seizures and possible coma and an emergency visit to the veterinarian. Your puppy or adult should be accompanied with a veterinarian certificate stating the health and condition of the dog as well as a record of vaccinations. For the protection of the puppy, the seller and the buyer, the puppy should have received at least one inoculation against distemper, hepatitis and parvo virus before going to a new home.
The Maltese is basically a healthy dog and can live 12 or more years. To contribute to his longevity and health, your Maltese should have regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations, adequate exercise and a diet of premium dog food - no "generic" foods, please. Ask your breeder or veterinarian to recommend a good brand of food. Table scraps, especially bones, should not be fed and do not allow your Maltese to get overweight.
Care of Maltese
TEETH - Teeth of toy dogs are often a problem. Some dogs retain their baby teeth too long, particularly the canine teeth. In this case, duplicate sets of teeth may be seen at the age of about 6 mos. Retained baby teeth can cause malocclusion, since they prevent adult teeth from growing into their proper position. These baby teeth should be removed by a veterinarian. Teeth should be cleaned regularly. Gum (or periodontal) disease is one of the most common problems causing formation of tartar bad breath, receded gums, loose or infected teeth and their eventual loss. In severe cases, it can lead to serious generalized infections and heart and kidney on the market today. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best method.
EARS - In drop-eared breeds such as Maltese, the ears should be kept clean and free of excess hair and debris. Your Maltese will alert you to problems by scratching or shaking his head and the ears will have a dark, smelly secretion. At this point, veterinarian care is advised.
TOE NAILS - Toe nails should be kept short. A good time to trim toe nails is after a bath while the dog is still wet as the quick is easier to see.
TEAR STAIN - Some Maltese tear and stain more than others and are more likely to stain as puppies when they are teething. Try to keep the hair under the eyes dry. Use a fine-tooth comb or soft toothbrush dipped in warm water to remove the matter at the corner of the eye. For excessive tearing and stain, you may wish to consult with your breeder or veterinarian.
GROOMING - Grooming the Maltese coat is a particular concern of every prospective owner. The Maltese coat is not difficult to care for if you do a daily once-over with a pin brush or steel-tooth comb to remove any matts that may be forming. If you neglect the coat for any length of time and allow matts to build up, a grooming session to remove them will be a miserable experience for you as well as your Maltese. If the dog becomes so matted you need to take it to a groomer, the groomer may have no choice but to cut the coat down very short.
For daily brushing, dilute some coat conditioner with water and lightly spray the coat as you brush to keep from breaking the hair and cut down static. Keep hair out of the eyes by either putting the hair in a single or double topknot, or keeping it trimmed over the eyes. The coat should be thoroughly brushed, with all matts removed, before bathing. For bathing, use a good quality shampoo designed for white dogs and a conditioner for long-haired breeds. After bathing, wrap the dog in a towel to remove excess water; then proceed to blow dry the coat, brushing the hair as it dries. Be sure your dryer is not too hot! Don't let your Maltese "air dry" - his coat will not look its best. Your Maltese can, of course, be taken to a professional groomer.
There are several excellent books that have been written on Maltese and all give more detailed information on coat care and grooming.
All Maltese would look best in their long, flowing coat of white hair, but as a pet owner, you may not be willing or have the time to spend keeping the hair clean, brushed and matt free. You do have other options such as a short cut which can be done periodically by a groomer.
The American Maltese Association appreciates your interest in the loveable Maltese and hopes that this information will help you make an informed decision as you choose a dog for your family. Maltese owners become loyal fanciers! We welcome you to the wonderful world of Maltese.
Copyright © 2007 A.M.A All rights reserved.