Lifestyle Needs


The Maltese is a Toy breed with dark eyes and a long silky coat – very much a lap dog.  He is usually lively and bright, not demanding in terms of exercise (half and hour each day is sufficient) and can adapt to most types of home.  His profuse coat will need dedicated grooming every day to keep it in good condition – this is not a dog for anyone who does not have the time to do this.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.5% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

The long and profuse coat can be a welfare problem for this breed.  It will tangle and collect dirt and debris easily. It will impede his movement and cover his eyes unless trimmed.

BVA/KC Health Schemes:

  • Chiari malformation/Syringomyelia (CMSM) (a neurological disease in which pockets of fluid form within the spinal cord, causing chronic pain and disability, if severe).

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD1)
  • Thrombocytopaenia

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Heart disease: Myxomatous degeneration of the mitral valve (can lead to heart failure)
  • Heart disease: Patent ductus arteriosus (duct between aorta and pulmonary artery fails to close after birth – causes gradual heart failure, progressive discomfort and distress)
  • Shaker dog – or acquired tremor syndrome (tremors in young adult dogs; cause unknown)
  • Necrotising meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the brain causing weakness and seizures in young dogs, often fatal) (autoimmune disease)
  • Pyloric stenosis (only liquid food can pass into the stomach, causes severe vomiting)
  • Portosystemic shunt (an abnormality of the blood circulation, resulting in blood from the heart bypassing the liver and entering the general circulation)
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap)
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Cataract
  • Entropion (inward turning eyelashes)
  • Deafness
  • Hypothyroidism (underactivity of thyroid gland (causes lethargy, coat changes, obesity)

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds