Maltese Temperament: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Maltese are considered one of the most popular small dog breeds in the world. They’re known for their lovable personality, and their adorable looks.

But what is their temperament really like? Are they good with kids? Are they always friendly? Or can they be a bit naughty at times?

The Maltese is a small but feisty and courageous dog. They are known for their playful and affectionate nature, while they are also intelligent and easily trained. Maltese are loyal and loving companions, but they can also be independent and stubborn sometimes.

Let’s explore the good, the bad, and the ugly of Maltese temperament. We will also provide tips on how to handle any behavioral issues that may arise.

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

Maltese dogs may be small, but they pack quite the pair of lungs. These vocal dogs 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 several reasons. Here are a few to help you better understand the potential issues when your Maltese pooch acts up.

1. Easily Gets 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 ran an errand for a couple of hours, or you had traveled for work for the week. Whatever the case, expect a loud welcome from your four-legged bestie.

2. Need For Attention

Maltese dogs are quite needy when seeking 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.

3. Feeling Threatened

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

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

4. Underlying Health Issues

Finally, your little pooch may be barking 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 “Bad” Side Of Maltese

Well, you might be surprised to learn that Malteses have a “bad” 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. It is in complete contrast to the 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.

This could happen due to mistreatment during the Malteseโ€™s puppyhood. From physical abuse to serious neglect by previous owners or strangers in the cases of Maltese rescues, this “mean” behavior developed as a defense mechanism.

Sometimes, the meanness is not due to past trauma but rather 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 and a safe space where they can build trust.

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

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Yes, Maltese dogs do like to cuddle!

They are very affectionate dogs that enjoy being close to their owners. They often seek out physical contact and love to be petted and hugged. Maltese dogs are also known for being lap dogs, so they love to curl up in your lap and snuggle.

Maltese are bred to be companion dogs, and as such, they typically form very strong bonds with their owners. This results in a dog that is extremely affectionate and devoted and one that craves human attention. Maltese are also very gentle, loving dogs that enjoy cuddling and lap dogs.

These traits make them ideal pets for families with children or anyone looking for a loyal and affectionate furry friend.

However, they are prone to developing separation anxiety.

This makes them excessively anxious and stressed when left alone. This can lead to disruptive behaviors such as barking, chewing, and pacing. Separation anxiety is a serious condition that requires treatment from a veterinarian or animal behaviorist.

Is A Maltese A Good Family Dog?

Image from Sweater Hound

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

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

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


There is 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 energy.

Patient And Even-Tempered

Malteses are very tolerant of children who love to handle them. In fact, they thrive on the attention. Again, this is perfect 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 dogs. 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 adaptable and will often fall in with your familyโ€™s household vibes and routines.

Image from Big Lu

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 a good option 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 your pooch family easily.

Are Maltese High Maintenance? 

In some aspects of care like grooming, Maltese dogs are quite high maintenance. They need regular brushing to keep their coats healthy and beautiful and 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, which could be a sign of separation anxiety or other phobias. In other situations, the dog may be crying to alert you of physical discomfort in case of health issues. Whatever the case, you should not ignore your pup if you notice they are crying too much.

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Pete Decker