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Teacup Maltese Dog: Breed Info, Pictures, Facts & Traits

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Teacup Maltese

Height: 8 inches
Weight: 4-5 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: White; can have tan or lemon ears
Suitable for: Families with children, those looking for companionship
Temperament: Gentle, social, and playful; can be stubborn

The Maltese breed has been around since 6,000 B.C. They have always been a popular dog among royalty and aristocrats — in the 16th century, Mary, Queen of Scots, even owned one. They have been nicknamed the “comforter” because they naturally comfort those who are ailing with their affectionate and warm disposition.

In 1873, this breed was introduced to the United States, and popularity for this dog has continued to grow. With their bright and cheerful outlook, you can’t help but like this miniature dog. It’s not uncommon to see the Teacup Maltese win the Toy Group at dog competitions.

These tiny dogs are great companions and provide a playful and lively friend to anyone looking for an adorable pet.

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Teacup Maltese Puppies

two maltese in a basket
Image Credit: Pixabay

Teacup Maltese are high-priced, the reason for this is that the mother is so small, she can only carry two or three pups at a time and they usually have to be born via cesarean section. A good breeder puts a great deal of time and money into caring for the mother and her pups.

That being said, there are many unreputable breeders who don’t care for their dogs ethically and are focused only on the money to be made. You will want to ensure that your puppy doesn’t come from a puppy mill. The best thing you can do is to meet the breeder and investigate first-hand how your puppy has been raised. The breeder should also be able to give you information about the health history of the mother and father.

Don’t forget about rescues! Rescue dogs can be great pets, and there are many in need of homes. If you adopt an older dog, have them tested for various health issues associated with this breed to remain proactive in caring for them.

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3 Little-Known Facts About the Teacup Maltese

1. They can be picky eaters.

Due to their history of living with royalty, this breed likes dining on rich food and has developed a taste for the finer things in life. Don’t worry, you won’t have to buy filet mignon for your little one — they will eat dog food, but it may be a challenge to find one they will enjoy.

2. The ancestors of the Teacup Maltese were larger dogs.

It’s taken years of development to breed the smallness into the Teacup Maltese. Over the years, they were mixed with Miniature Spaniels and light-colored Poodles. The 17th and 18th centuries are when they focused on making this dog smaller.

3. They can be quite fragile.

If you consider the size of the dog, you will realize that they can be injured easily. Watching where you step or sit is important so you don’t inadvertently hurt them. Even walking up the stairs may be difficult for them due to their size in relation to the height of the step.

Maltese lying down
Image credit: Pikrepo

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Physical Traits of the Teacup Maltese

Size and Appearance

The average height of a full-grown Teacup Maltese adult is 8 inches, with a weight of 4-5 pounds. The puppies are so small that they can fit in a teacup, which is where the name is derived. They have big, dark eyes with a black nose that contrasts their white coat.

Their head is slightly rounded on top, with ears that are low-set and close to their head. They have a small muzzle of medium length, a compact body, and a tail that is carried over the back.


The AKC (American Kennel Club) prefers to have the color of the coat remain white but will permit light tan or lemon color on the ears. The Teacup has a single coat (no undercoat), with a silky texture that hangs flat over the side of the body. They are light shedders and are prone to developing tear stains on their faces. Daily combing will prevent the feathery hair from becoming matted.

Their coat is considered slightly hypoallergenic (although no pet’s coat is 100% hypoallergenic), which is an advantage if you suffer from allergies. Since they don’t shed a high amount, there is less hair and dander released into the air.

Life Expectancy

This breed can expect to live up to 10 to 12 years but are more prone to health issues than the standard Maltese. Females tend to live longer than males. By providing a healthy diet with plenty of physical and mental stimulation, you can increase the lifespan of your dog. Regular checkups to the veterinarian will help catch any health concerns before they get out of hand.

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Temperament and Personality Traits of the Teacup Maltese 🧠

These are outgoing and confident dogs who are responsive to training. If you spoil them, however, they can become insecure and over-dependent. They can also bark a lot, so the best thing is to teach them that that behavior is not appropriate. Positive yet firm and consistent training works best with the Teacup Maltese.

They can be stubborn at times and can suffer from separation anxiety. By providing care and attention, you can overcome any negative attributes. Since they have been bred for companion dogs, making sure they are part of the family will keep them happy.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

They can become alert watchdogs but are always happy to make new friends. Since they love children, they can be good family pets, though you may have to teach your child to be gentle with this fragile dog or at least wait until your children are older and can understand how to play with a dog of this size.

Does This Breed Get Along With Other Pets? 🐶 😽

As long as your dog is properly socialized from a young age, they can definitely get along with other animals, regardless of if they are a dog, cat, or something else. However, you should be supervising their interactions until you are 100% confident in them.

Teacup Maltese
Image credit: Pikrepo



Things to Know When Owning a Teacup Maltese:

Before you adopt an adorable Teacup Maltese, you may want to know these things.

Food Requirements 🦴

High-quality dog food is ideal for this breed. Feeding them three to four times per day is preferred because they are susceptible to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). They don’t require a large amount of food at one time to fill up their small stomachs, but it will help them feel better throughout the day. Healthy treats are always nice to have available, especially when they are in training.

An adult Teacup Maltese will need approximately 45 calories per pound of bodyweight daily. This can be adjusted in relation to how active your dog is. Most Teacups will eat from ¼ to ½ cup of dry dog food per day. Make sure the kibble is small and specifically made for toy breeds so your dog can eat it with ease. You can feed your dog wet food, but mixing it with a kibble will benefit their teeth and may prevent certain dental problems later in life.

Exercise Requirements 🐕

Even though they are full of energy, a small amount of exercise daily will suit them well. They are naturally playful and will look forward to walks or a game of fetch. Since they are intelligent, they enjoy competitive sports where they are able to show off their athletic abilities. Examples would be obedience or agility sports. They especially love to learn and perform tricks, which can be fun for both the dog and the owner.

You will want to make sure your Teacup Maltese is older than 8 months before introducing them to intense physical activity. This allows their bones to become strong enough to tolerate the stress and strain from exercise.

Maltese grooming
Image credit: Pikrepo

Grooming ✂️

With their long, silky fur, you can’t ignore the grooming needs of this breed. A daily brush and a regular grooming appointment for a trim will keep them in top form. Bathing them regularly will be needed because their white fur tends to show dirt easily, but once you add a coat conditioner, they will be eye-catching.

Since they can develop dental problems, brushing and checking their teeth regularly will prevent issues from occurring. Wash their eyes and mouth daily with a warm, wet washcloth to prevent stains from building up.

Health Conditions ❤️

Unfortunately, due to their size, they can suffer from more health issues than the standard Maltese. Common health concerns include:

Minor Conditions
  • Low blood sugar
  • Dental issues
  • Bone concerns
Serious Conditions
  • Heart problems
  • Congenital liver issues
  • Seizures

Not every dog will suffer from these listed health issues, nor are all of them listed here. It’s always best to have your dog seen regularly by your veterinarian.

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Final Thoughts on the Teacup Maltese

Envisioning the Teacup Maltese sitting upon a throne next to a royal family isn’t far from the truth if you know about their history. Many have known luxury in their lives and have adapted accordingly. They have beautiful coats and can be quite charming. Being playful and friendly comes naturally to these elegant dogs. Training them is a pleasure because they are eager to please and love to learn — just watch out for their stubborn side.

This type of dog may be just what you are looking for if you want a small dog who loves attention but will also love you unconditionally.

Here are some other fascinating breeds:

Featured Image Credit: Plernz, Shutterstock

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