Maltese Temperament: Behavioral Traits That May Surprise You

Maltese dogs are easily among the most popular accessory dog breeds. According to the American Kennel Club, they were the 36th most popular dog breed in 2019. This obviously has a lot to do with their adorable aesthetic especially for dog lovers who are partial to small, fluffy pooches. However, their personalities are arguably just as amazing and definitely contribute to the doggyโ€™s overall personality.

When it comes to Maltese temperament, most people are familiar with their sweet and even-tempered nature. However, there are a few traits that may surprise you include their high intelligence, fearlessness, and occasional vocal outbursts.

Understanding a Maltese dogโ€™s temperament is crucial to ensuring that you offer them the best, possible care. It also helps to prepare you for exactly what it is you will be getting yourself into by bringing one of these fluffy, white pooches home with you. So letโ€™s dive right into it.

Do Maltese Dogs Bark A Lot? The Aggressive And Fearless Side Of Maltese

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Maltese dogs may be small but they pack quite the pair of lungs in them. These vocal dogs are known to bark very loudly and very often unless trained not to do so from an early age.

Malteses also tend to cry and whine a lot for a number of reasons. Here are a few of these to help you better understand the potential issues when your Maltese pooch acts up.

Might Just Be Over-Excited

Maltese dogs are celebrated for their even temper and calm nature. However, they are not always able to contain their excitement. This usually happens when they are welcoming their favorite humans after a period of separation.

Maybe you went to run an errand for a couple of hours or you had travelled for work for the week. Whatever the case, expect a loud welcome from your four-legged bestie.

Need For Attention

Maltese dogs are quite needy when it comes to attention from their human companions. They will mostly whine or cry when they want to play or cuddle. Therefore, if you notice your Maltese suddenly getting restless and vocal, start with a hug and a quick game.

Feeling Threatened

Maltese dogs are small but they have the guts of dogs multiple times their size.

These fearless little pooches may not launch physical attacks but they will not hesitate to bark up a storm if they feel threatened.

Underlying Health Issues

Finally, your little pooch may be barking a lot because they are not feeling well. In these cases, the barking may be weak or nothing more than a whine. If you notice this and other non-specific changes like mood and energy level alterations, you should take the dog to the vet for evaluation.

Why Are Maltese So Mean? The Evil Side Of Maltese

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Malteses are not the first dog breed you think of when you think of mean dogs. I mean how can a pooch with such a cute little face and fluffy little body ever be anything less than an angel?

Well, you might be surprised to learn that Malteses actually have an evil side and have been known to be very mean. Unfortunately, no one is spared this behavior from random strangers in the street to their very own human companions.

It is important to note that this mean side of Maltese dogs is not normal. In fact, it is in complete contrast to standard temperament features of a Maltese.

If you notice your Maltese being mean either by barking at strangers or even physically attacking you, it is usually a sign that the dog has been traumatized in some way.

One of the ways this happens is mistreatment during the Malteseโ€™s puppyhood. It could be anything from actual physical abuse to serious neglect by previous owners or strangers in the cases of Maltese rescues. The mean persona in this case is developed as a sort of defense mechanism.

Sometimes, the meanness is not due to past trauma but instead as a result of present frustrations. It happens when the dog is not getting enough attention, mental stimulation, or physical exercise.

Fortunately, this is a trait that the Maltese will outgrow with time. They just need patience and love as well as a safe space to where they can build trust.

Do Maltese Dogs Like To Cuddle? The Affectionate Side Of Maltese

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Maltese dogs are very calm and may sometimes come off as aloof. This is because they sometimes take a while to let strangers in. However, once you have earned their trust and love, it is a bond that is very hard to break.

Dog owners who are fortunate enough to have formed such bonds know just how clingy and affectionate the Maltese can be. They are sometimes even known to develop Velcro personalities where they follow their favorite humans pretty much anywhere.

As this trust develops, the Maltese also gets more comfortable with physical handling. They will often come to you for hugs, to be held, and to cuddle as a way of bonding. And who doesnโ€™t want a good snuggle with what is essentially a live teddy bear?

While this affectionate side of the maltese is quite endearing, it can also be problematic. This is because Malteses very easily develop emotional dependence on the people they spend the most time with. This is the main reason why it is so hard to leave a Maltese alone.

There is a risk that Maltese may develop separation anxiety especially if the constant attention and time is taken away suddenly.

One of the best ways to avoid this is by slowly teaching your Maltese independence by setting time and space boundaries. They will not love it at first but eventually they will learn.

You could also get them another furry friend for the company while you are away. This is a great strategy if you are willing to take on the responsibility of two dogs as Malteses tend to get along well with other pets.

Is A Maltese A Good Family Dog?

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Malteses actually make for really awesome family dogs in homes with children of all ages.

There are a lot of logistical perks of having these pooches in family settings. These include the fact that Maltese dogs are hypoallergenic, small, and quite easy to take care of. This makes it easy to teach young kids responsibility without overwhelming them.

Furthermore, Malteses have several personality traits that just make them easily fit into most homes. Here are a few that your family has to look forward to.


There is truly never a dull moment in a home with a Maltese dog. Their goofy and lively nature is something that your family will appreciate. This is the case especially if you have young children who can keep up with this same energy.

Patient And Even-Tempered

Malteses are actually very tolerant of children who love to handle them. In fact, they thrive on the attention. Again, this is awesome in homes with young kids who may not know how to hold themselves back when playing with their pets.


In a Malteseโ€™s head, your family is their family and it is their responsibility to protect everyone in the home. Their size is not an issue to these fearless pooches. While they may not successfully fight off bigger opponents, their barking and general confidence may come in handy.


Maltese dogs are quite intelligent. They are not only easy to train but also quite adaptable and will often fall in with your familyโ€™s household vibes and routines.

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Maltese dogs are quite smart. They may not be the most intelligent of the bunch but they are quite responsive. With the right training tools and patience, there is nothing you canโ€™t teach these dogs from potty training to fun tricks.

One of Malteseโ€™s best features as far as training is concerned is their eagerness to please their human friends. This works to your advantage as you have to do very little in the way of reinforcement and motivation to get them to pick up desired behavior.

However, Malteses may take a bit more time to get the hand of things especially with skills and tricks that need a bit more agility and strength. They also need a repetitive approach when training on behavior including house breaking as they easily forget and slip back to old habits.

One challenge you have to look out for when training a Maltese dog is the fact that they can get distracted easily. It is therefore best to keep the training sessions as short as possible. In these cases, it sometimes helps if there is another dog involved in the training as it appeals to the poochโ€™s social and competitive side thus keeping them engaged.

It is also very important while training a Maltese to find perfect balance between being firm and kind. This is because Malteses are very sensitive dogs and may not respond very well to intimidation and overbearing approaches.

Reprimanding Malteses too harshly when they get it wrong also doesnโ€™t help and only makes them less motivated to keep trying. Instead, ignore unwanted behavior and encourage good execution with things like treats and praises.

Is Maltese Good For First Time Owners? Maltese dogs are awesome if you are a first time dog owner. This is mainly due to their very manageable personalities. They are also relatively low maintenance which allows you to get the hang of things without too much pressure. The best part is that they get along great with other pets allowing you to expand the pooch family in future with minimal resistance if any at all.

Are Maltese High Maintenance? In some aspects of care like grooming, Maltese dogs are actually quite high maintenance. They need regular brushing to keep their coats healthy and beautiful as well as frequent baths to prevent stinking. However, in other aspects like food, health, and social care, they are relatively easy to take care of.

Why Do Maltese Cry So Much? Maltese dogs cry when they are distressed for one reason or the other. More often than not, it is psychological in which case it could be a sign of separation anxiety or other phobias. In other situations, the dog may be crying as a way to alert you of physical discomfort in case of health issues. Whatever the case, you should definitely not ignore your doggy if you notice they are crying too much.

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Pete Decker