Cute Maltese Couple


Tips for Finding a Healthy Dog

We do not sell Maltese.  We can tell you how to find a reputable Maltese breeder or explain how to select a healthy puppy.  

Looking for a rescued Maltese? Are you considering becoming a foster parent?  You'll find info on how to proceed on this page.             

How to Find a Healthy Maltese
Dog or Puppy

Hi, I'm the co-author (with my Maltese dog Chiclet) of the award-winning canine health and safety book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care (pictured below left). Jan Rasmusen with Jiggy (left) and ChicletThat's my Jiggy on the cover. My two babies, now almost 11 years old, are pictured (right) with me. Jiggy is in my lap on the photo's left. Chiclet is on the right. 

Maltese (the word is both singular and plural) are small, scary smart and submissive (which means they're relatively easy to train). The standard size of this Toy breed is 4 to 7 pounds. Most are cuddly, adoring and as sweet as dogs come. Some are lap sitters; some aren't. (Some breeders believe that male dogs are the most affectionate.) They're considered hypoallergenic and non-shedders but if you're allergy prone, make sure you spend time with the dog in question to see if you become symptomatic.

On the down side, Maltese are pure white and a challenge to keep clean. Even a brief walk brings four dirty paws in need of cleaning. And, unless kept in short "summer" or "puppy" cuts, as my dogs are, they'll grow hair down to the floor. If you don't like the idea of daily brushing and detangling, clip them short or look for another breed. By the way, Maltese have silky hair, not fur.

These dogs are sometimes called Maltese terriers, but they are not terriers. The smallest Maltese (like my 4-pound Chiclet) are sometimes called "Teacup Maltese," but there is no such thing. "Teacup" is a marketing term and does not guarantee a small dog. In fact, I've seen more than a few "Teacup Maltese" who now top 20 pounds or more.  

If you're not willing to love a big dog as much as a tiny one, please find another breed. Note: Chiclet, and several small Maltese I know, weighed less than 2 pounds at three months of age (although this is no guarantee of adult size.) By the way, 3 months is the youngest age from which they should be taken from their mother. If the breeder wants you to take an 8 week old dog, find another breeder.

Note: the smaller the dog, the more health problems you're likely to encounter: especially dental problems. There just isn't enough room in their mouth for 42 teeth, even when the teeth are tiny.

The best way to judge a puppy's adult size is to see the parents and grown siblings, although even this is no guarantee. Just as with people, family members can vary greatly in size, looks and disposition. (This alone is a great reason to adopt an adult dog needing a home, rather than buy a puppy.)

Do not trust on-line photos. And don't trust guarantees, especially for dogs brought from another state. You'll be in love with the puppy in no time and won't want to return a pup with genetic or personality defects. Unscrupulous sellers/breeders count on that. Also, chasing someone down to get your money back can be a challenge.

Maltese are fragile -- not a good choice around young children, especially rambunctious toddlers. If your children can't be trusted to treat these dogs as though they might break any moment, they should not be allowed to play unsupervised with the dog.

In areas with ANY predator--even hunting birds and owls--they must be kept indoors or held close on leashes. Hawks and owls can fly off with small dogs. Coyotes grab them off leashes and bound over fences. You must maintain constant vigilance. Never walk your dog at dawn or dusk or when it's dark. They are also a popular target of dog thieves, so beware. If your children aren't old enough to make sure your house's doors are always closed, and that your dog is inside, please select a larger breed of dog.

Problems that affect most Toy dogs also affect Maltese. Dental disease, Maltese tear stains, knee problems (luxating patellas) and problems with anesthesia are paramount among them. You MUST have your dog checked thoroughly by an independent veterinarian before purchasing. This check can save you a fortune in the long run. (My book, Scared Poopless, addresses these problems in depth. Read the Table of Contents.)

Please DO NOT BUY Maltese, or any other dog, from pet stores, on-line puppy shops, Craig's street corners or swap meets. These dogs are generally the product of inexperienced "backyard" breeders or of cruel mass breeding operations called puppy mills. They may even be stolen. What you might save in purchase price, you'll likely pay many times over in veterinary and training bills as these dogs are often damaged both physically and psychologically. If you buy one of these poor pups to "save it," you'll be perpetuating an unthinkable cruelty. Every puppy purchased means a female will be kept in captivity to breed yet more of these unfortunate pups. You save one, and you hurt two or more.

Here's the story of a little Maltese purchased from Craig's List:


Maltese, and Maltese mixes, await your love in a shelter with a rescue group near you. View dogs in multiple nearby shelters at or Check out rescue organizations by searching on-line for "Maltese rescue" or go to American Maltese Association Rescue  In So. California, email me and I'll put you in touch with a rescue group. Many purebred Maltese are available in shelters -- pups and adults alike.

We recently adopted a 2 year old little Maltese who was surrendered because he needed heart surgery. The amazing rescuer raised $6000 for his surgery. He is alive and well and living with us today!  See his story in this video.


If your heart is set on a puppy, know that rescue puppies are often available; some are "purebred." 

A reputable Maltese breeder:

  • Keeps dogs indoors. These dogs should be members of the family.

    Show you at least one parent on the premises.

    Won't breed three or more breeds of dogs.

    Won't advertise that they always have puppies.

    Won't let you buy a dog without grilling you about your home, knowledge, etc. (This is an adoption; not a sale.)

    Won't ship a Maltese puppy alone on a plane. Dogs die and are permanently damaged this way. Read my article on Flying a Dog in the Belly of an Airplane.

    Will show or belong to a dog group of some sort.

    Will have a library of care books.

    Are HARD, not easy, to buy from. Good breeders have waiting lists for their dogs most of the time and want their babies to go to the best homes.

    Caution you about over-vaccination, give you a list of your dog's shots and dates when given, and won't have given puppies shots before 8 weeks of age.

    Will not let you have a dog younger than 12 weeks of age.

    Will feed their dogs really good food. (See my page on Food.)

    Will recommend a thorough vet check (from an independent vet) before the purchase is final.

    Will not recommend antibiotics for tear stains. (Read what I have to say about safely eliminating tear stains.)

If a breeder recommends combination vaccines (like DHLPP), they are not up to date on vaccinating protocols. Small dogs are especially susceptible to vaccine reactions. In fact, Maltese are #6 on the list of all dogs suffering increased chance of a reaction when given multiple vaccines (not just multiple injections) in one office visit. Read my book's chapter: "Rethinking Vaccination," and see this web page on Vaccinating Dogs Safely. If you're not aware of what harm vaccine reactions can present, please see this video and read the accompanying article on reactions. Two of the dogs profiled are Maltese.

If a breeder recommends commercial kibble, they are not experts on nutrition. Read my on-line chapter on "Food to Die For," an excerpt from my award-winning dog health care book which is narrated by a Maltese. Also see this web page on Dog Food Information.  

To learn more, and find a breeder: Check out American Maltese Association Breeders (the official site). I can also refer you to breeders in Southern California who care about food and vaccinate responsibly. To learn how to evaluate breeders, read our free article Find a Healthy Puppy: Ten Steps to Success. Also check out my chapter "Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places." I repeat: responsible breeders will not let their dogs go home with you until they're 3 months old. They will also not ship them in the belly of an airplane. If you're tempted to ship a Maltese, please read my free article about dogs flying as baggage or cargo.

Important: When you find the dog you want, please have an independent veterinarian (not the breeder's vet) "vet check" your dog thoroughly before finalizing your purchase. This is the best money you'll ever spend and no reputable breeder will refuse or be offended.

I wish you good luck and Maltese love.

Jan Rasmusen

Note: a So. California Maltese breeder is telling people she's a good friend of mine and a number of top breeders. None of us have ever heard of her. It is thought she is trying to pass off low-quality dogs as champs. Always check out any claims and get references.

Click here to learn more about Tear Stains







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Read the award-winning book narrated by a Maltese

Scared Poopless dog book cover showing a Maltese

Scared Poopless:
The Straight Scoop on
Dog Care

by Chiclet T. Dog &
Jan Rasmusen

WINNER, Ben Franklin Award Best Health Book
of any kind

WINNER, USABookNews Best Animal/Pet Health Book

Endorsement by 2007 Judge of the Maltese Specialty (the year's most prestigious Maltese show):

“I am very excited about this book. It offers so much information most people don’t know, and makes complicated subjects easy to read and understand. Jan gives us the tools we all need to be advocates for our dogs. Breeders should give this book to every one of their pups’ new parents!  In fact, everyone with a dog should read it. I love this book!”   --Mary Day, internationally renowned Maltese judge, exhibitor and breeder since 1969, noted for her emphasis on canine health. Her dogs have won numerous Best of Breed, Best in Show and Maltese Specialty titles.  Recently, her “Carol” won the 2005 Best of Breed at Westminster Dog Show in New York and the 2005 Maltese National Specialty

Note: Mary Day is not a commercial breeder

Read more testimonials.


All author royalties benefit animal causes.


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Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is provided for general information purposes. Any information provided is not veterinary advice and should not be substituted for a regular consultation with a veterinary professional. If you have any concerns about your dog's health, please contact your veterinarian's office immediately.
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