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Maltese Dog Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

Maltese doggies are the very embodiment of toy dog breed appeal. For centuries, they have been the accessory dog of choice for royalty from old, European dynasties. And why not? What’s not to love about these doggies with their sweet personalities and cute, little faces?

The best part is that you get to enjoy their loveable awesomeness for a very long time as they have a very long lifespan. 

On average, Maltese dogs live for 12 to 15 years. However, they have been known to exceed this living up to 20 years old like a Maltese from the Sunshine Coast known as Zac. These doggies live relatively healthy lives as long as they are well-taken care of and free from hereditary illnesses.

However, they are not completely free of health issues as we shall take a look at later. But first, let’s find out what it is about these dogs that gives them such a long life.

How Long Do Maltese Live?

Maltese dogs live for 12 to 15 years.

This is to be expected as most dogs in the same size category have lifespans in the same range. For some perspective on just how impressive this lifespan is, 12 to 15 dog years corresponds to about 54 to 76 human years. Here are some of the main reasons why these doggies live for so long.

Small build

Typically small dog breeds usually live longer. There are many theories to support this including the belief that metabolic activity in smaller pooches leaves their cells healthier for longer.

Whatever the case, Maltese doggies definitely benefit from their small build. However, this is not always the case.

Teacup Maltese doggies actually have a bit of a shorter lifespan with some dying as early as 10 years of age. This is due to a combination of both dwarfism-related health issues and their vulnerability to suffering serious trauma.

Non-threatening health issues

Another reason why standard-sized Maltese dogs live such long lives is the fact that most of the very few health issues associated with the breed are actually not usually life-threatening. As you will see shortly, they mainly affect the quality of life and are otherwise unproblematic.

Largely unproblematic genetics

There are several dog breeds out there that are more prone to some genetic issues than others. This is not the case with Malteses. Dogs in this breed that do have health issues usually do not reproduce which further contributes to the overall healthy nature of the dogs.

What Health Problems Do Maltese Have?

As earlier alluded to, Malteses have very long lives but they are not entirely free of diseases. If you are interested in owning one of these doggies, here are a few of the key health issues you may have to deal with at some point in time.


Maltese dogs have a very high metabolism. They are very active and easily burn through whatever calories they consume. They are therefore very likely to develop hypoglycemia especially after playing too much.

This is one of the main reasons why Maltese dogs shake so much. Serious cases could also result in loss of consciousness.


Not all Malteses are firecrackers. There are some that, if allowed to, can very easily settle into couch potato personalities. With their ravenous appetite and the reduced activity levels in these cases, packing on weight is pretty much inevitable.

Hip dysplasia

This is a condition where the hip socket does not form properly. The result is an unstable joint prone to developing arthritis.

Patella luxation

This is another common joint issue that Maltese dogs have to deal with. It is characterized by looseness of the patella bone in the knee joint. This affects the dog’s mobility and gait and is generally very uncomfortable for the pooch.


Cataracts are among the health issues that almost always affect older Maltese dogs. They may affect one or both eyes and need to be dealt with as early as possible.  

Skin irritation and allergies

Maltese dogs are also prone to developing skin issues. These are usually triggered by allergic reactions to things like pollen, some foods, parasites, and chemicals in grooming products.

How To Take Care Of A Maltese?

Maltese dogs are generally low maintenance dogs.

However, it is very easy to drop the ball and have an unhappy dog in your home. In order to avoid this, here are some of the most important care tips for you to follow.

Healthy diet

What your doggies eat makes the world of a difference. Malteses in particular need enough energy to keep them strong and healthy without crossing the line to obesity. For the right portions and balance for your Maltese, we recommend you try Pet Plate.

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In addition to the healthy diet, you should give your Maltese supplements to make up for any important micronutrients or compounds that aren’t present or in adequate amounts in the main diet.

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Invest in play time

Play time is very important for two main reasons. The first is that it helps prevent obesity in the vulnerable dog breed. The second is that it helps give them a physical and mental outlet to avoid frustration and destructive behavior. Two sessions of 30 minutes each should get the job done

Limit unaccompanied outdoor visits

As a toy dog breed, Maltese pooches are very likely to get injured accidentally. If you must let them outside, make sure to accompany them if there is no fence to keep them off the street.

How Often Should You Bathe A Maltese? Grooming Tips For A Maltese

One of the best things about owning a Maltese dog is the fact that these pooches are hypoallergenic. Contrary to popular beliefs, this does not mean that the doggies do not shed at all. They do. However, they shed very minimally which makes caring for them in terms of grooming much easier than with other dog breeds.

To show you just how easy it can be, here are some important grooming tips for your Maltese.

Brush their coats 2 times a week

Yes, we have mentioned that Maltese dogs do not shed much. However, this does not mean that you do not have to brush their fur.

Due to the long nature of their coat, it is still prone to developing knots and getting matted up if not brushed on a regular basis. Fortunately for you, you do not really have to do this very often. In fact, once or twice a week should be more than enough.

Wash them every 6 to 8 weeks

Another great thing about Malteses is that they do not tend to stink as long as everything is ok in terms of their general and coat health. You can therefore get away with washing them once every 6 to 8 months.

If your pooch happens to have skin irritation, we recommend you use pet wipes whenever they have flare-ups. Lavender Pet Grooming Wipes are ideal in this case as the lavender has a soothing effect on the skin

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Clean their teeth

You should also invest in the dog’s dental hygiene as a way to prevent dental cavities and gum diseases. Hard chew toys do a great job by mechanically removing plaque from the surface of the teeth.

Temperament Of A Maltese

Maltese dogs have been very popular companion pets for a very long time. Despite the fact that they are incredibly cute, it is their personalities that shine more than anything else and makes them such awesome pet options. Here are some of the traits you have to look forward to.


Maltese dogs are quite docile and this is one of the main reasons why they make for such awesome family pets. Even when scared, suspicious, or irritated, they will not make an unnecessary fuss.


Malteses are real goofballs and love to play with their favorite humans. They can and will make a game out of anything from following you around and play-attacking you, to wrestling that random, throw cushion on your couch.

Friendly even with strangers

These doggies also happen to get along very well with everyone including strangers. This makes them perfect if you tend to entertain a lot in your home. The Maltese will just be happy to make more friends.


Malteses really enjoy human company. They just take it a tad bit too far and can actually very easily and accurately be described as clingy and needy. This is not the type of dog you leave alone all day long as they may develop separation anxiety. If you must leave, get them a pet sitter or another dog for company.

Fearless and vocal

Maltese doggies may be small but they pack quite a punch. They actually make for great watchdogs as they are fearless, alert, and very vocal. However, their general friendliness towards strangers may make this a bit more difficult than it needs to be.

Related Questions

What Is The Longest Living Maltese? The longest living Maltese was a male pooch named Zac who lived up to the age of 20 years old. This is about 96 human years for a dog of that size. The pooch lived a relatively healthy life only suffering dental and skin issues and died of old age.

What’s The Average Lifespan Of A Dog? The average lifespan of a dog is 10 to 13 years. Larger and giant dog breeds live for fewer years with some giant breeds having lifespans as short as 6 years. Small dog breeds on the other hand live for longer with lifespans up to 15 or even 18 years on the higher end of the range. We have a page that collates the life expectancy of different dog breeds right here.

Which Breed Of Dog Lives The Longest? Dachshunds are widely considered the longest living dogs. They have an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years and are quite healthy save for a few joint issues. Other dogs with very long lifespans include:

  • Chihuahuas at 12 to 18 years
  • Toy poodles at 12 to 15 years
  • Beagles 10 to 17 years
  • Pomeranians 13 to 15 years
  • Australian Shepherds 12 to 18 years

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