Maltese Lifespan: How Long Does A Maltese Live For?

Maltese Lifespan

Maltese Lifespan.   How long is it?  What are the pros and cons of this particular breed?  Are there any major health concerns that impact Maltese lifespan?  Many concerned owners want to know more about their dogs and these are all good questions when searching for the right fit.  Is a Maltese the right dog for you?

Hi, my name is Mike and I’ve been working with dogs for years now.  I decided to start a website dedicated to helping other dog owners and providing insight into commonly asked questions.  Today we will be talking about Maltese lifespan.  Is this the right dog for you?  Lets find out!

>>New dog owner or new dog?  Need a hand?<<

Maltese Lifespan:  How Long is it?

So how long does a typical Maltese live for?  Most experts agree that the lifespan of a Maltese dog is about 12 to 15 years.  It can be shorter due to medical concerns or unfortunate accidents.  It can also be much longer if the dog is cared for properly and put in the proper environment.  What are some of the things that can cause a Maltese to thrive?  What are these dogs like to begin with?  Will this be the right dog for me.  Lets break it down some more.

Maltese Breed Explained

The Maltese breed is a small dog typically thought to have originated somewhere in southern or central Europe.  There are accounts of these dogs ranging back to the early years of human civilization (300-400 B.C.).  It’s name is believed to be derived from the town of Melita in Italy and not the island of Malta as is commonly thought by many.

Very little information is available on the true origins of these dogs but we can speculate a bit.  These dogs are thought to descend from the Spitz line of dogs that is common to southern and central Europe.  They typically grow to be between 8-10 inches tall and they weigh between 3-10 pounds.  As stated above, they tend to live for around 12 to 15 years and have litters of between 1-3 pups on average.

Maltese Appearance

Maltese Appearance

These dogs are compact and low to the ground.  Typically they have rounded faces with cute little button noses.  Their tails are almost always curled and their eyes and nose are accentuated by an area of darker skin pigmentation.  This is sometimes referred to as the halo effect.  It is one of the things that gives a Maltese their signature look.

The Maltese has long silky hair covering its body with no real undercoat.  Sometimes these dogs can have curly hair but it is more the exception than the rule.  They tend to have pure white or off white coats as well.  This breed is also very hypoallergenic as it does not shed it’s coat.  Ideal for my fellow dog lovers with allergies!

Maltese Temperament

The Maltese is a bit of a yapper by nature.  This breed will bark a lot.  Of course this can be trained away and limited but they can start out very chatty.  They rank somewhere in the middle when it comes to personality and tend to be generally friendly when it comes to people and other dogs.  This will of course vary wildly depending on the individual dog and it’s temperament.

These dogs rank somewhere in the middle when it comes to actual aptitude and intelligence which is fine for training simple tasks.  They also tend to be much lower on the energy level than many breeds.  Dogs like this were bred specifically to be companion animals and lap dogs.  They act as such in most cases as well.

Maltese Lifespan: Known Health Issues

The Maltese breed does tend to have many of the same common health issues that other smaller breeds suffer from.  Here we will go into some of the top problems and their suspected causes.

Heart Disease

Cardiovascular issues are the number one chronic medical condition for this particular dog breed.  This is usually caused by a genetic birth defect that may or may not develop into a more serious issue as the dog ages.  There are many Maltese animals who may have some defects at birth that they grow out of as well.  This is sometimes one of those.

It is important to take your Maltese to the vet yearly and make sure to watch out for certain warning signs.  These warning signs include things like Sluggish behavior, trouble breathing, heavy fatigue, excessive sleeping and irregular heartbeat.

In many cases, corrective surgery may be required to resolve some genetic related heart defects.  Once this is done, the dogs generally live normal lives with no real negative side effects.  This will of course vary from dog to dog.  Working with your vet if you suspect there could be heart trouble is definitely the way to go.

Progressive Reitinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is another genetic failing that can affect a Maltese’s vision.  This will usually manifest in one of two ways.  They will either lose the ability to see well at night or the ability to see well during day.  It all depends on where the atrophy occurs.

This is more of an advanced age issue with the Maltese.  You likely will not notice something until the dog is well into their adulthood.  Some things to look out for could be your dog bumping into furniture or moving much slower than normal.  If you take a look at their eyes, you might notice cloudy vision or dilated pupils as well.

Dental Problems

As with many small breeds, their teeth don’t always hold up so well.  They often get dental diseases which may require surgery or treatment.  The build up of tartar on their gums and teeth can cause abnormalities that could lead to cavities or tooth loss.

The Maltese has to have their teeth cared for regularly to avoid these types of issues.  Luckily, its fairly preventable by brushing your dog’s teeth regularly.  Your vet can also point these things out to you as long as you are making sure to take your dog for regular visits!

Liver Issues

I’m referring specifically to a condition called Portosystemic Shunt.  This is a genetic defect that will manifest itself at birth.  Corrective surgery is usually required to alleviate this condition.  The problem is caused by the incorrect forming of blood pathways around the liver which can lead to lack of blood supply.  Easily corrected though with an over 95% success rate.

If you notice your dog having seizures or acting disoriented, these could be telltale signs.  Bring them to the vet for a more in depth analysis.

Shaking Syndrome

Shaking syndrome is a neurological disorder that can cause a dog to shake uncontrollably.  Many people misread them as the dog being nervous or scared.  With this breed, you have to be extra careful not to dismiss these types of symptoms.  One of the best ways to find out what’s going on is to take your dog to the vet if you notice symptoms like this on a regular basis.

This will usually occur when the dog is in the early to middle years of their life.  There are several treatments available however and it can be mitigated rather quickly.  Usually this involves some steroid medications and follow up with your vet over a short period of time.

Maltese Lifespan: How To Increase It

As a dog owner, we all want our furry friends to live forever.  The next best thing is to give them the happiest and longest life possible.  In the next few sections, I’m going to talk about how to increase your Maltese’s lifespan and what to avoid to do the opposite as well.


Nutrition is one of the most important factors in determining the lifespan and quality of life in your dog.  A good, high quality dog food is a must when it comes to providing your dog with the proper building blocks they need to grow and maintain their overall health.

Whether you are feeding them dry, wet or raw foods, its important to select a proper diet for your dog and make sure they get what they need.  A good suggestion would be to mention this to your vet and see if they have any nutritionist recommendations.

There are dog nutritionists out there who can help you cater an entire food plan for your dog.  Not only will they show you which foods to give your dog, they will also keep you away from the potential pitfalls as well.  Spend a little extra money here and improve your dog’s life tremendously in the long term.

Maltese Nutrition


Nutrition and exercise tend to go hand in hand when we are talking about longevity in humans and dogs alike.  The proper exercise routine can keep your dog’s body and mind in a healthy place as well.

Every dog breed will differ but most can benefit from at least 30 minutes of sustained activity each day.  This can take shape in multiple ways.  A few examples are dog walks, play time with a toy, a little dog training and many other options.  The important thing here is to have your dog up and moving around a bit.  This will help in many ways.  It can also benefit heart and mental health as well.


Having the proper environment for your dog to live in is also key.  Many people may have questions when it comes to environment.  What does this involve?  Are you referring to physical location or something else?

Environment is a combination of the people your dog is around and the climate they live in.  So for example, a small dog like a Maltese is not built for artic climates like say a Husky.  These dogs are primarily indoor dogs and need less in the way of exercise and physical stimulus.  They are perfectly content to lay around the house and enjoy the company of their owners.  A true companion animal!

It’s important to show these dogs plenty of love and keep them in a comfortable temperature as well.  How do we know if the temperature is comfortable for our dog?  Just take a look at them?  Are they shaking?  Does their skin feel warm or cold?  Are they always trying to get under blankets or curl up in a ball?  All of these could be signs that it’s a bit cold for them.  Get them a sweater or turn the heat up a bit.  Problem solved!

This can also go the other way for dogs that over heat.  A dog does not have the same capability that we as humans do to cool off.  You can usually tell if your dog is too hot though.  Just look for a lot of panting or flopping around on the floor.  These are some of the ways dogs will try and cool themselves off.

Maltese Lifespan Summarized

The Maltese is a wonderful companion animal and can bring years of joy and love to your family.  As stated above, they typically live for 12 to 15 years.  This lifespan can be increased with the proper care and nutrition.  Regular visits to your vet is also a great way to keep an eye on your dog’s health and adjust when needed.

Working with a dog nutritionist to help with environmental and food recommendations is a solid choice if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about that.  It’s also very important to show your dog a lot of love and attention.  A Maltese is very much a companion animal and as such needs companionship!

These dogs are typically great family dogs and work well in smaller family environments like apartments or condos as well.  They don’t need a ton of space to stretch out but they will need some attention each day for sure.  Keep an eye on them and they will provide your family with years and years of joy in the future!

Are you new to dog ownership?  Looking for a bit of training help but don’t know where to begin?  I’d suggest checking out this guide here.  Getting a trainer to your home can be very beneficial but it can also cost big bucks.  You will also be stuck doing the majority of the work yourself anyway. Give this guide a shot first and see how you feel!




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