The guidelines of the American Maltese Association state that Maltese puppies should not be sold before they are 12 weeks of age. By that time a Maltese puppy that leaves for his new home should have had several vaccinations as well as had a veterinary check-up to insure he is in good health. If you are purchasing your Maltese from a source that does not meet these requirements you should seriously reconsider your purchase.
The first weeks your Maltese is with you will be busy and demanding. There may be times when you wonder if getting a puppy was such a good idea. Things will go easier if you have patience and keep your sense of humor. Remember that puppy hood only happens once. The extra effort you put into it now will pay off in the future.
Maltese and Children
Maltese love children, but do not always make the best pet for a child too young to understand that these dogs can be seriously hurt by rough handling. If you have a very young child and plan to add a Maltese to your household, be careful to supervise their time together and teach the child that the fragile build of the Maltese calls for gentle care.
FACT or FICTION? "Teacup Maltese" & "Designer Dogs"
Most Maltese "TEACUP" puppies are in reality, a premature puppy.
Some of the problems that may be encountered are both genetic and congenital in these tiny babies and the list is a long one.
The risk of open fontanels (soft spot from the cranial bone not forming), portosystemic shunts (PSS- abnormal vessel that allows blood to bypass the liver. As a result the blood is not cleansed by one of the bodies filters: the liver.), hypoglycemia, cardiac problems, collapsing trachea, luxating patellas, Leggs Calves Perthes disease, seizures, hydroencephaly, blindness and digestive problems can be increased in these tiny babies.
Problems such as respiratory problems can remain or worsen throughout their lives. These babies frequently are so fragile that they do not live more than a few years. There have been several tiny teacup puppies as adults who still had open fontanels and their owners had to carry nourishment with them all the time. Their vets have felt it unsafe to give a full dose of vaccine so the puppies had to get several injections to be on the safe side.
There is no such thing as a "tea cup" Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Poodle, or any other breed for that matter. They simply do not exist. "Tea-cup" is just a marketing ploy given by unethical and unscrupulous breeders to drive up the price of their puppies!
A "DESIGNER" dog is a cross between two purebred dogs, creating a hybird. A purebred dog is one that has been bred over many generations to breed true, meaning each puppy that is born looks and has the same temperament and characteristics as the others.
When you breed two different types of purebred dogs together you can get any combination of any of the traits found in either breed. Unlike purebred dogs, when you adopt a hybrid, you do not know exactly what the temperament, size of the dog, or exact look of the dog will be. It is also important to be aware not all of these designer hybrid dogs being bred are 50% purebred to 50% purebred. It is very common for breeders to breed multi-generation crosses.
Research the temperament and care for both breeds in the cross and be prepared for any combination of the two. Do not assume or take the chance that only the good characteristics will emerge. You may be in for a big surprise and it is not fair to you or the puppy to chance that.
Pet or Show?
One question you will be asked by the breeder is whether you want your Maltese to show or as a pet. A very young puppy can have "show potential", but cannot be guaranteed show quality. If you intend to show your Maltese, you should consider an older puppy - between 6-12 months of age - as the breeder can better determine if the puppy conforms to the standard.
Many people who want a "pet quality maltese" do not understand why buying from a pet store is not a good idea. Many of the qualities which breeders select in their efforts to produce a show dog are also essential for pets. The parents of your Maltese pet puppy represent years of knowledge and study. They were bred to produce the best in temperament, conformation, coat, intelligence, health and soundness. Those puppies who do not meet the rigid show requirements possess all the same essential inherited qualities of the puppy who is a show able specimen. Your Maltese puppy will be a dog others will admire and one you will be proud to own.
Male or Female?
Actually either sex makes satisfactory pets. The male Maltese is equally as affectionate and loving as the female. A neutered male does not "mark" his territory if he is properly housebroken and neutered at an appropriate age nor does he exhibit other undesirable traits associated with male dogs. You have picked a breed in which there are generally more male puppies born in a litter than females. For that reason, it may be hard to find an available female as some breeders tend to keep those females for future breeding. If a breeder feels that a dog is not of breeding quality, although it would make an excellent pet, he may obtain a limited registration certificate for such a dog. This means that the offspring of the dog cannot be AKC registered. Breeders will prefer you to spay or neuter your pet Maltese to prevent breeding and future health problems.
When you find a Maltese breeder you like, spend time discussing your family and lifestyle. Then allow your breeder to help pick a puppy for you as he has spent weeks or months with the puppies and knows their personality and temperament. The reputable breeder wants you to have the puppy that best suits you and with which you will be happy. If you aren't happy, he knows the puppy won't be happy, either. Most reputable breeders require unwanted puppies be returned to them.
Depending on your lifestyle, if the breeder suggests that an older puppy or young adult would be better for you, keep an open mind and consider the possibility. People who are away from home for eight or more hours a day are not ideally suited to raising a very young puppy. Breeders sometimes have older puppies that they have held on to as potential show prospects. These older puppies will be house-trained much sooner than a very young puppy. If they have been well socialized, they may be the ideal choice for a working family. In some circumstances an adult dog may be available.
Older Maltese are very adaptable to new environments and quickly make themselves part of their new family, allowing those of us who could not raise a young puppy to have the company of a Maltese.