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Maltese vs. Maltipoo: What’s The Difference?

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Last Updated: October 20, 2023 | 8 min read | 32 Comments

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The Maltese and the Maltipoo are small dogs who are full of personality and fun. As the Maltese is one-half of the Maltipoo, they are very similar simply because they share the same D.N.A.

The Maltipoo is slightly different in temperament in that he is livelier and more active than the Maltese, and therefore he needs slightly more attention. However, he requires much less devotion when it comes to his grooming.

Both breeds are small guys who are bursting with character, so let’s take a closer look at why they are firm family favorites across the world.

Breed Comparison

Maltese

  • Height 8-9 Inches
  • Weight 4-8 Pounds
  • Temperament Docile, Brave, Playful
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12-15 Years
  • Price $1,000 and Up

Maltipoo

  • Height 8-14 Inches
  • Weight 5-20 Pounds
  • Temperament Affectionate, Gentle, Lively
  • Energy Average
  • Health Average
  • Lifespan 12-16 Years
  • Price $800 and Up

Breed History

The Maltese is an ancient dog dating back thousands of years, whereas the Maltipoo is a designer breed that is relatively new.

Maltese

Two White Dogs With Bows Standing Outside
The Maltese’s history is one of the longest-lasting breeds ever.

The Maltese is a purebred pup and is believed by some to have originated from Malta, whereas some believe that he originates from Italy, or other colonies surrounding Turkey and Syria. Wherever he hailed from, what cannot be questioned is that he was the most popular toy dog for Royalty and the upper classes in many societies since 3500 B.C.

The Egyptians were known to build grand tombs for their Maltese because it was believed that they had special healing powers. Many well-known figures, such as Aristotle and Queen Elizabeth I, succumbed to the Maltese’s charms, and as such, they are regularly found in famous artwork.

The breed was nearly destroyed in the 17th Century when breeders attempted to make him the size of a squirrel. But Chinese fanciers stepped in and saved him, by breeding him with their similar toy dogs. When they restored the breed, they took him back to England where he was refined to the pup that we know and love today. The Maltese is currently the 37th most popular dog in America, ranked by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Maltipoo

Three Brown Puppies on a Blue Chair
This adorable creature was created in the States, but no one is exactly sure when.

The Maltipoo is a mixed breed, the result of crossbreeding the Maltese and the Toy Poodle. His other popular names include the Maltidoodle or a Moodle. He was created in America; however, the official date is unknown.

He was bred to combine the cuteness of both parents, but the intelligence and more active personality of the Poodle. The Maltipoo is not recognized by the AKC as he is a relatively new designer breed, but nonetheless, he is becoming a popular family pet across the world.

His other parent, the Poodle, is a purebred dog, more commonly known as the flamboyant national dog of France for his pretty tufts and pompon haircuts. He comes in three sizes: the Standard measuring 15 inches or taller in height, the Miniature measuring under 15 inches, and the Toy measuring 10 inches and under. Each is the same dog, just a variation in size.

However, unbeknownst to even the most knowledgeable of dog fanatics, the Poodle is originally a duck hunter from Germany, and his incredible nose has also lent him to truffle hunters throughout Europe. He is now more commonly known to sit on the laps of beautiful French Aristocrats and Royalty alike, and he is currently ranked as the 7th most popular dog in America by the AKC.

Appearance

Fluffy Dogs Standing in a Road
The Maltese only comes in white, whereas the Maltipoo comes in a variety of colors.

The Maltese is small in size, measuring between 8 and 10 inches in both the male and female and only weighs between 4 to 8 pounds. The Maltipoo varies in both his height and weight; he is often taller at up to 14 inches, but can be as small as 8 inches, and weighs anywhere between 5 and 20 pounds.

The Maltipoo also varies in many colors, such as white, cream, gray, silver, blue, black, apricot, brown, and coffee, and can also have slightly different colored ears from the rest of his body, whereas the Maltese is only white.

The Maltipoo also enjoys a variety of coat types, such as curly, wavy, or silky straight, and his fur is either medium or long in length. Being a mixed breed, the Maltipoo can take on the appearance of either parent and is therefore excitingly varied. The Maltese, however, has a silky straight coat that reaches all the way to the ground.

These guys share the same eyes, button-shaped and dark brown (on rare occasions they can be blue for the lighter Maltipoos). Their small black noses and black lined lips poke out of a short mustache, with a mischievous smile.

Beware of breeders who offer a ‘teacup’ size dog of either breed as they are prone to genetic disorders and are often riddled with health issues. Although a ‘teacup’ dog technically weighs five pounds or under and therefore a small Maltese could be considered as one, they are bred from the runts of litters in order to make them as small as possible.

Temperament

Happy White Dogs Looking Up
Both dogs are gentle yet playful, but the Maltipoo tends to be more sociable.

The Maltese is a charming canine who always gets his own way. He loves nothing more than to sit on his master’s lap and will happily take all the strokes and attention that he can get. He is sweet and cute, and as such, he believes that everyone wants to be his friend, be that human or animal.

The Maltipoo is similar in the Maltese’s temperament, however, he generally takes on his Poodle parent’s intelligence and curiosity in addition to the temperament of his Maltese parent. He equally enjoys sitting on his owner’s lap for a bit of chill time, but only if he is allowed to enjoy some fun time, or a good romp in the garden beforehand. Overall, he is more outgoing and livelier than the Maltese.

As the Maltipoo is a hybrid dog he can take on a mix of either parent’s temperament, the best way to see his temperament is to visit him as a puppy and to see how he interacts with his siblings and parents. Maltipoo owners suggest taking a puppy in the middle of the temperament scale, one who neither bullies his littermates nor shies away in the corner.

Exercise

Energetic Dogs Running Agility Courses
Both dogs only need minimal exercise, with the Maltipoo needing 30 minutes a day at most.

The Maltese and Maltipoo vary in exercise requirements. The Maltese, being a small dog, only requires a short walk or two a day, as he will get most of his exercise running around and playing indoors. This is more so that they can have a change of scenery and do their doggy business, so a walk around the block will suit them just fine. He is content being an all-day lapdog with the occasional leg stretch.

The Maltipoo is slightly more demanding, and he will need around 30 minutes of walking a day, with a few interactive play sessions throughout the day to keep him both physically and mentally stimulated. He has an affinity for water, thanks to his poodle’s traditional working background, so he will appreciate a regular trip to the local lake.

It is advised for both the Maltese and the Maltipoo, that because both breeds are vulnerable to Collapsing Trachea, that his lead is attached to a harness and not a collar. This helps to preserve his neck and decrease the likelihood of them suffering from it.

Both breeds, being sociable, are not great fans of being left alone for long periods of time and are known to suffer from Separation Anxiety, particularly the Maltese. If you do have to leave them for more than a few hours, then be sure to leave them with a treat-filled puzzle toy. Despite their small stature, they do have the propensity to become destructive if bored, and they have been known to chew their way through armchairs!

Training

Fluffy Dogs Waiting for a Treat
Early socialization is required for both dogs to ensure they behave well with other humans and pups.

Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are people pleasers and enjoy treats and praise from their master, and therefore they both enjoy training. The Maltipoo, due to his Poodle parent’s character, is often more intelligent and enjoys being worked, and as such he takes to training quicker and is less stubborn than the Maltese.

Both of these guys require early socialization to ensure that they are well behaved around other humans and other animals, and are comfortable in a variety of situations outside of the family home.

The Maltese is sometimes known as being slightly yappy and this is a recognized behavioral issue known as ‘little-man syndrome’. This is because he either feels the need to prove his worth because he is so small, or he believes that he is the pack leader due to being over spoilt, and this results in him being aggressive or frequently barking.

The Maltipoo is less known for this behavior, however, if not socialized properly any dog breed could adopt this undesirable behavior.

Health

White Dogs Standing Outside
Generally speaking, both dogs are fairly healthy and only have a few genetic concerns.

Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are generally healthy dogs. The Maltipoo, as with most hybrid dogs, are considered to be slightly healthier than purebreds as they have a mix of their parent’s genes.

The Maltese is required to have a Cardiac and a Patella Evaluation as per his National Breed Club. Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are known to develop Luxating Patella, which is an abnormal kneecap development where the kneecap can slip out of place. They are also both known to experience Collapsed Trachea, which is where the rings of cartilage surrounding the windpipe collapse inward.

As in all small breeds, regular dental cleaning is required more so than the average dog for several reasons. Firstly, their teeth are more crowded in their mouth compared to that of a larger dog, and as such tartar build-up is much quicker. Secondly, because their roots are shallower periodontal diseases have more of a negative impact.

Nutrition

Cute Dogs Licking Their Lips
Both dogs are prone to obesity, so their food and treat intake will need to be monitored.

These guys differ in the amount of food that they eat per day. On average, a Maltese will eat between ½ and 1 cup of food a day, and the Maltipoo will eat slightly more at 1 to 1 ½ cups of food a day. This is entirely dependent on the size of your Maltipoo, if he is a larger Maltipoo and quite active then he may need slightly more. If you are unsure then ask your Veterinarian, and they will be able to advise you accordingly.

Both of these guys like to be spoiled with treats, so it is important to monitor their intake. Due to them being smaller dogs, who don’t need to be exercised greatly, they are susceptible to obesity.

Grooming

Dogs Getting Groomed
Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo are more demanding than the average pooch in regard to their grooming.

Neither breed have an undercoat, so they do not shed, making them hypoallergenic. This is great if you have a pet allergy or asthma, but as with any animal, hair loss will still occur so don’t expect a 100% hair-free zone.

The Maltese’s coat will need brushing every day to keep his long hair tangle-free and silky, and the Maltipoo will need less brushing at 2 or 3 times a week.

Because they do not have an undercoat they only need to be bathed once every 3 weeks as their skin is less protected, and they require specialized shampoo and conditioner to keep their hair in tip-top condition.

Both the Maltese and the Maltipoo also suffer from tear staining, which is an unsightly stain below their eyes, and the gathering of liquid often looks slimy and gritty. This may be less obvious in a darker-colored Maltipoo, but it is easy to be seen on the white Maltese and Maltipoos. Regularly wiping with tear-stain prevention wipes can help to alleviate the stains.

The Maltese, if he is a show dog, requires serious grooming to keep his long and silky coat glowing and presentable. While the Maltese doesn’t shed much, Maltese owners must invest a significant amount of time every day to ensure that there are no tangles and split ends do not occur.

Puppy Prices

Tiny White Puppies Outside
The purebred Maltese will cost more than the mixed-breed Maltipoo.

The Maltese, being a purebred dog, costs on average $1,400, whereas the Maltipoo costs widely range from $600-4,000. That might seem a lot of money for such a small dog, but the great thing is they eat far less than your average pooch, and everything is bought in miniature so you save more money compared to, say, an English Mastiff!

Final Thoughts

As the Maltipoo is the pup of the Maltese it is fair to say that these breeds are very similar in both appearance, temperance, and most other characteristics. The Maltese is a purebred dog, whereas the Maltipoo is a mixed-breed dog and not yet recognized as a breed in his own right.

If you are after a lap dog that requires minimal exercise, then the Maltese would be the better choice, whereas if you are after a cute pooch that is slightly more lively, then the Maltipoo is more likely to be the better-suited pup.

Either way, these pint-sized pups are both seriously cute and full of character.

White doodle mix outside in cold weather (Caption: Poodle Mixes)

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