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Male Maltese vs Female Maltese: What Are the Differences?

Nicole Cosgrove

In 1877, the Maltese wowed the public with its refined looks and toy dog charm at the first Westminster dog show. If you’re considering a Maltese as your new pet, you may be wondering, should I get a male or a female? Although myths about the differences in the sexes have persuaded some to favor females, male and female Maltese exhibit few differences. Females are the alpha dogs, and they’re typically harder to handle until they’ve been spayed. Males bond with their human family, and females tend to be more aloof but are still loving.

If you’re searching for a loyal dog that never leaves your side, the male is an ideal choice. Females are more independent, but they’re less anxious when you leave the house and easier to leave alone than males. Physically, the dogs are practically identical, and either sex can be dressed up in adorable garments.

divider-dog pawVisual Differences

male vs female maltese side by side
Image Credit: Left & Right – Pixabay

At a Glance

Male Maltese
  • Average height (adult): 8 – 10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): Under 7 pounds
Female Maltese
  • Average height (adult): 8 – 9 inches
  • Average weight (adult): Under 7 pounds

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Maltese 101

The legacy of the Maltese breed originated on the Italian island of Malta sometime after 1500 BC. The Phoenicians brought the dog to the island after they conquered it, but Chinese breeders saved the dog from extinction after the fall of Rome and began mating the dogs with Chinese toy breeds. Over the centuries, the breed has developed a strong following; Aristotle even commented on the dog’s impressive symmetry. The ancient Greeks respected the Maltese so much that they placed them in tombs when they died.

The animal with a long, straight coat and adorable, large black eyes is a favorite of dog shows and breeders worldwide. Regardless of their small stature, Maltese are not afraid to show their disapproval when a stranger passes by. Maltese are excellent watchdogs, but their cautious nature is diminished after they’re fixed.

Maltese have few health issues and typically live 12 to 15 years. They’re energetic creatures who love to show off their athletic prowess, and some owners regularly enter the dogs in agility contests. Although they’re great for families, the puppies need training and constant supervision when living with young children.

Male Maltese Overview

maltese dog
Image Credit: Pixabay

Personality / Character

Male Maltese are lovable characters who bond quickly with humans. Male puppies are more aggressive than females, but their temper calms after they’re neutered. Males love playing catch and other games with their families, and their running speed is a sight to behold. Males are more likely to follow you around all day and lay in your lap when they’re feeling lazy.

Training

Male Maltese are intelligent dogs that learn new tricks fast, but they’re more energetic than the females, and they often get distracted during training. After they’re neutered, they’re less likely to mark their territory or try to hump your leg. Training a male requires plenty of treats for rewards, but fixed males are much easier to train than males with their manhood intact.

Health & Care

Maltese are healthy dogs, but they require daily grooming to keep their coat healthy. Vets recommend brushing their coats at least once a day and giving them frequent baths and conditioners to keep their fur vibrant. Most Maltese are full of energy, but a daily walk or an hour of play in the yard should satisfy their exercise requirements. Like many toy dogs, their teeth can become a problem unless they’re brushed often. Cleaning their ears can prevent an infection, and since their nails grow fast, they need to be clipped every few weeks.

Little white maltese
Image Credit: Monikaa Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Breeding

If you’ve browsed breeder listings for Maltese dogs, you probably noticed a significant difference in the price for males and females. Males can cost up to $1,000 less than their female counterparts. Because demand is so high for females, the price is much higher, and the females are sometimes harder to find. The misconception that males are less cuddly and girly than females has disrupted the Maltese breeding market. Males are ready to bread when they’re six months old, and they can get aggressive when they smell a female in heat.

Male Maltese Pros
  • Loving and loyal
  • They respond well to new humans and other pets if they’re trained properly
  • With proper training, they’re great with kids
Male Maltese Cons
  • They get distracted with training
  • More aggressive until they’re neutered

divider-multiprintFemale Maltese Overview

Female Maltese are lovable dogs, but they’re more reserved than males. Unlike the males, females like to claim a spot in the house as their own. When new people enter the house, they may escape to their hiding spot for alone time. Since they’re the alpha animal of the breed, females are more likely to display their dominance before they’re fixed. Marking their territory and leg humping can become problems when young, but they seldom exhibit the behavior after they’re spayed.

Females are more suspicious of strangers, and they’re less likely to treat their human family members equally. They often bond with one person closely and pay little attention to others. Females are just as agile as males, but their temperament is calmer and more mature. They don’t enjoy playing games as much as the males, but they still display their love to their owners. However, they would rather sleep in their favorite, private spot rather than curl up in your lap.

Maltese
Image Credit: monster_code, Shutterstock

Training

Compared to males, females are easier to train. They respond to commands quickly and seldom have problems getting distracted during a training session. Like the males, they need daily exercise, but a quick walk around the neighborhood should keep them healthy. Although training females is less challenging, they perform better in training after they’re spayed. Before being fixed, they tend to exhibit their alpha dog behavior and may mark their territory on the furniture.

Health & Care

Females live slightly longer than males, but their longevity depends on whether or not they’re fixed. Although they have few medical problems, females can develop an infected uterus or mammary tumors. Vets suggest getting your female fixed before her first heat to prevent the conditions. Since they can have puppies by the time they’re four months old, you have a brief period before they should be fixed.

maltese dog walking on seashore
Image Credit: suju-foto, Pixabay

Breeding

Although females are physically capable of breeding at a young age, most breeders wait until the dogs are six months old before they find them mates. Breeders are more protective of their female stock because they’re more valuable and in greater demand than males. When females are in heat, the experience hits them hard, and they often become fussy and uncomfortable around people. Vets suggest using doggy diapers when they’re menstruating if you’re planning on breeding the dog.

Female Bulldog Pros
  • Well-tempered and intelligent
  • They learn tricks and rarely get distracted during training
Male Maltese Cons
  • Suspicious of strangers
  • Less likely to bond to more than one human
  • They’re fussy before they’re fixed

Two Males or Two Females?

Suppose you’re going to purchase two Maltese puppies, which is a better fit: two males or two females. When they’re well-trained at a young age, any combination of male or female will make great pets. However, young females get along better with other males. Two female adolescent Maltese are much more likely to fight than two male dogs.

Females who are fixed before their first heat get along better with other Maltese and other breeds, but two male puppies are easier to handle even before they’re fixed. The personality of both sexes is also influenced by their breeding stock, and you’re more likely to find well-behaved, healthy puppies from an experienced and trusted Maltese breeder. Spending time with a breeder’s collection of male and female Maltese will give you an idea of their behavior and help you decide if you can handle two.

maltese
Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

divider-dog pawWhich Breed is Right For You?

Whether you select a female or a male, the breed once known as the Maltese Lion Dog is an extraordinary animal. Although the myth that male Maltese are not as lovable as females has given the males a bad name, the opposite is true. Males are the cuddly ones that can fall asleep in your lap, and females are more mature and less likely to display their love to more than one human. Males and females can be challenging to handle before they’re fixed, but they seldomly display aggression towards humans.

Although they have slight differences, both sexes are generally well-tempered and loving. If you travel frequently and have to leave the dog alone, a female can handle your absence better than a male. Males are the lapdogs of the breed, and they suffer from separation anxiety if you’re gone for too long. Finding a female from a breeder is more difficult due to their popularity, but you can save a few bills by buying a male.

With proper grooming and dental maintenance, Maltese dogs live long, healthy lives. Both the male and female Maltese would make excellent additions to your family.


Featured Image Credit: Pezibear, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.