Male vs. Female Maltese: Which Is Better?

Male and female Maltese on white background

If you can’t decide whether a male or a female Maltese fits you better, this article has you covered! While their differences aren’t noticeable, male and female Maltese are pretty distinct in some aspects.

Male Maltese are slightly taller, more affectionate, and more loyal than their female counterparts. They’re also friendlier with strangers and other pets. On the other hand, female Maltese are more independent, reserved, and calmer. They also tend to be more dominant than males.

This article will highlight the differences between male and female Maltese to help you decide which gender is the fitting addition to your household. Give this guide a good read to help you choose!

Physical Differences

Male and female Maltese playing outdoors

Male Maltese

It’s difficult to distinguish the male and female Maltese at a glance. Apart from their genitalia, height, and weight, they don’t have many physical differences. Any subtleties are hard to spot unless you’re familiar with the breed.

The Maltese breed falls under the toy dog category and is known for its tiny size, white coat, and fancy haircut. Male Maltese, however, are slightly taller compared to females. They stand around 8 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

The average weight for both male and female Maltese at maturity should be less than 7 pounds, with 4 to 6 pounds being the preferred weight. Build-wise, there isn’t that much difference between both genders.

Maltese, in general, are very active and love to play around. Males tend to be more playful than females. Due to their small stature, they can be fragile and prone to injuries. Owners must monitor them to prevent accidents and injuries.

Female Maltese

The female Maltese stands slightly smaller than its male counterpart, with a shoulder height of only 8 to 9 inches. This subtle difference is only apparent when put side-by-side with a male Maltese.

Female Maltese have a generally similar build to males, sharing the same average weight of around 4 to 6 pounds. Do not be fooled by their small build, as Maltese are known for their agility and athleticism.

Females are less active compared to their male counterparts and do not engage much in rough play. However, they also need close monitoring to prevent injuries and accidents.

Temperamental Differences

Male Maltese

Most small dog breeds mature faster than large dogs, which is also true for Maltese. Male Maltese reach adulthood between 10 and 12 months but mature slower than females.

They are highly energetic and playful. Fortunately, this doesn’t translate to aggressiveness, as males are more trusting and respond positively to strangers.

Contrary to popular belief, male Maltese are more affectionate and friendly than female Maltese. They bond quickly with their owners, children, and other pets.

Male Maltese show strong bonds with their owners and the household, resulting in dependent solid connections. However, this makes the male Maltese clingier than the female, which may lead to separation anxiety.

Female Maltese

There are apparent differences in the temperament between the male and the female Maltese. Female Maltese are more mature, reserved, and independent compared to males.

This means they’re calmer and less playful, but it doesn’t make them any less affectionate. Female Maltese enjoy their alone time, and owners would usually see them spending more time at their resting spots.

They also don’t show their affection equally to the family members and would play favorites to their primary caretaker. In fact, my mother’s three-year-old female Maltese, Illu, has been very attached to her compared to any other member of the family.

Illu will always lounge with my mother on the sofa and will wait to be petted. She also has the habit of standing up to my mother’s knees when she sits at the dinner table, asking for food. She will also prefer to sleep beside her at night.

In the presence of strangers, female Maltese would rather hide at their favorite spot than greet them.

The female Maltese may also display slightly aggressive behavior towards strangers. This protective instinct stems from the natural maternal tendency to protect their young.

Their independent and free-spirited nature doesn’t pose a problem when leaving them alone at home. They would sometimes prefer this setup and would be at peace with their resting spot.

Behavior and Training

Female Maltese during training

Male Maltese

The Maltese is an intelligent and highly trainable breed. However, a few distinct behaviors between the male and female Maltese affects their trainability and interaction with their environment.

A male Maltese is docile and less dominant when exhibiting alpha behavior such as leg humping, territoriality, and threatening behaviors.

However, that’s not to say that the male Maltese does not exhibit such behavior. Most male dogs do these early on in life while not yet neutered and are driven by their hormone, testosterone.

Male Maltese, like other male dogs, are also highly attracted to in-heat female dogs. Unlike females, males do not follow a heat cycle, so they exhibit this behavior all year round.

Aggressive and territorial behaviors can be prevented early by neutering your male Maltese.

As for trainability, male Maltese are trainable but can be easily distracted due to their playful nature. This lack of focus may make house training more difficult but doable.

When left alone at home, they may exhibit anxiety which can sometimes lead to destructive behavior. Nevertheless, proper crate training can mitigate this behavior.

Positive reinforcement, consistent training, and early socialization help mold your male Maltese into a well-rounded dog.

Female Maltese

Female Maltese are often seen as sweet dogs that don’t engage in alpha behavior, but this is far from the truth! The female Maltese tend to exhibit dominant behavior more than males.

This means they’re more prone to leg humping and marking territories than males. They’re also bound to bark more at other dogs and pets. Fortunately, they don’t show aggression to humans and would rather hide.

These behaviors and mood swings can be attributed to their heat cycle, which happens twice a year and lasts for about two to three weeks. This makes the female Maltese anxious and uncomfortable.

It’s also important to note that having two female Maltese isn’t advisable as they’re very likely to fight for dominance. Spaying the female at an early age remediates this problem and is highly suggested to prevent illnesses.

As for trainability, female Maltese tend to be more focused when being taught commands. This focus stems from them wanting to finish the tasks so they can spend their alone time in their favorite safe spaces.

Female Maltese are also easier to housebreak than their male counterparts, but both genders respond well to positive reinforcement and socialization.

Health Differences

Male Maltese

Generally, the Maltese is a healthy dog breed. However, both genders can be predisposed to health issues such as tracheal collapse, luxating patella, white dog shaker syndrome, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).

A few health problems in intact male Maltese need to be addressed early on to prevent them from getting more severe and avoid expensive medical costs.

Some of the problems of intact males include enlarged prostate and excessive hormonal release. An enlarged prostate can lead to difficulties in urination and may also be painful for your companion.

Another life-threatening illness is testicular cancer which may develop later in life when your male Maltese reaches senility.

These health problems can be prevented by neutering. A healthy diet and proper exercise can help in increasing your dog’s life expectancy.

Female Maltese

Intact female Maltese are susceptible to several health problems and can lead to more complications if not monitored properly.

When unspayed female Maltese is in heat, it may develop a secondary infection in the uterus called pyometra due to hormonal changes.

This is characterized by pus accumulation and discharge from the vagina. If left untreated, this may lead to complications such as blood sepsis.

Another severe disease is ovarian cancer which increases the risk for unspayed female Maltese as they grow older. Female Maltese are also prone to mammary cancer and other infections such as mastitis and metritis.

These illnesses can be prevented by spaying your female Maltese. This also guarantees a longer life expectancy.

With Other Dogs and Pets

Male Maltese sitting beside a cat

Male Maltese

The Maltese breed is generally a gentle dog. When introduced to dogs and other pets, they welcome them and have no worries in the company of others.

Male Maltese are friendly and playful towards other dogs and pets. Although they may still prefer the company of their owners, they don’t mind socializing and getting along with other fur friends.

They may, however, tend to posture and be territorial, especially with dogs of the same sex, especially if they are unneutered.

Owners should note that male Maltese are small and fragile. You should stop your male Maltese from playing roughly with larger dogs to prevent accidents and injuries.

If possible, taking home a male Maltese isn’t advisable if you already have a large dog at home. The male Maltese is a joy to have around with other dogs and pets.

Female Maltese

Female Maltese can be just as affectionate as males, but due to their independent nature, they tend to shy away in the presence of other dogs and pets.

Once a female Maltese is spayed, it becomes easier for them to socialize with other dogs and pets. Their relaxed nature makes them easier to get along with, even if they’re less playful than their male counterparts.

If you plan to have a multi-breed or multi-dog household, dog experts advise introducing a younger dog of the opposite gender. This combination allows less volatility and makes for a peaceful home.

Like their male counterparts, female Maltese should not be left alone to play with larger dog breeds. Their small and fragile stature makes them susceptible to accidents.

The female Maltese can be a fantastic fur companion to other dogs and pets with proper training and ample socialization.

With Children

Male Maltese

Maltese are lovely companions, and introducing one to the family, especially to children, is a heart-warming moment. They are considered excellent lapdogs and are happiest when someone is always at home.

The male Maltese, with their friendly outlook, crave human attention and love sticking around with their owners and children.

However, male Maltese should be around children that are old and responsible enough to know how to treat a dog with respect.

For young children, it’s best to watch them closely, as these dogs may be mistaken for stuffed toys. This measure will prevent retaliation from your male Maltese, as they may feel threatened when handled roughly.

Female Maltese

With their calm and relaxed nature, the female Maltese are fitting companions for older children at home.

This is because they can set the time and pace for playing along. If the female Maltese think playtime is over, they return to their safe spaces and isolate themselves until they’re ready to play again.

They’re also less prone to playing rough and prefer activities that are less taxing on their end. Like the males, it is not advised to introduce female Maltese to children who do not yet know how to behave around dogs.

Pros and Cons of Male and Female Maltese

Male and female Maltese smiling

Male Maltese

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning a male Maltese. These pros and cons stem from their behavior and interaction with their environment.

Since male Maltese are known for their affection and need for attention, they essentially serve their purpose as lapdogs, and love cuddles and playtime. This makes them a fun breed to have around the house.

Male Maltese also form strong bonds with their owners and prefer to be in the presence of other strangers. They’re also a fitting addition to other dogs and pets in the household, as they’re very friendly and love socializing.

They’re also known to be more agile and athletic than their female counterpart.

However, there is also a downside to the male Maltese’s affectionate nature as they may be prone to separation anxiety. This makes them unable to leave home for prolonged periods.

This separation anxiety can lead to excessive barking and destructive behaviors. Fortunately, crate training and positive reinforcement can resolve this behavioral issue.

Their playfulness may also be a hindrance, especially during training. This makes them lose their focus and keeps them distracted from their tasks.

Their small size and fragility prevent them from being introduced to young children and larger dog breeds, leading to accidents and injuries during rough play.

Unneutered male Maltese may exhibit alpha behavior such as posturing, roaming, and territory marking. Neutering solves this problem and lessens their aggressive behavior.

In summary, here are the pros and cons of a male Maltese:

Pros Cons
Affectionate and lovingNeeds constant attention
Forms strong bonds with ownersProne to separation anxiety
Gets along well with other petsHarder to train due to lack of focus
Playful, athletic, and agileSmall and fragile; may not match with large dogs or small children
Friendly and sociableCan be aggressive if unneutered

Female Maltese

A female Maltese is calmer and more relaxed than a male. This is because female Maltese mature earlier than males. They’re also brilliant and more focused than their male counterpart.

They’re also independent and less needy of attention. They don’t mind being alone for long periods and are not prone to separation anxiety issues.

However, they’re known to be less affectionate. Female Maltese play favorites and are only loving towards their primary caretaker.

This means they shy away from strangers and do not show interest in socializing with other dogs or pets. They’re also more likely to exhibit secondary sexual characteristics or alpha behavior if they’re still unspayed.

So far, these are the pros and cons of owning a female Maltese:

Pros Cons
Matures earlierLess affectionate
Highly intelligent and focused during trainingOverly dependent on their primary caretaker
Independent Prefers isolation 
Less needy and can be left alone at homeDo not like socializing with other humans and dogs
Calmer dispositionTends to be more aggressive if unspayed

Should You Get a Male or Female Maltese?

Choosing what gender of Maltese is suitable for you is a matter of personal preference and would also depend on your home situation.

If you are inclined to show constant affection to your dog, then the male Maltese is the more suitable choice.

Their natural playfulness and agility would also fit owners who have active lifestyles.

Meanwhile, if you live alone but still want an affectionate dog without worrying about leaving it for a few hours, the independent and relaxed female Maltese fits the description perfectly.

Female Maltese are also easy to train and highly intelligent, so if you want to join a dog show, this gender might be an excellent choice.

On the other hand, if you have older children and want a multi-dog setup for your household, the male Maltese is a better match because of its friendlier disposition.

It’s best to assess what kind of lifestyle you or your family have to come up with a just decision on whether to take a male or female Maltese.

Nevertheless, whichever gender you choose, you’re making the right choice since the Maltese is one of the oldest and most renowned breeds in the canine community.

If you’re ready to choose and can afford the cost of owning a Maltese, then take the next step and reach out to reputable breeders or adopt a Maltese in rescues near your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Male and female Maltese sitting on a park bench

Are Male or Female Maltese Calmer?

The female Maltese has a calmer disposition than the male since they mature early, at around 10 to 12 months of age. Females lose their puppy antics and become independent earlier than males.

Male Maltese maintain their high energy even beyond 12 months and mature much later in life.

Are Male or Female Maltese More Affectionate?

Male Maltese are more affectionate than their female counterparts. They tend to be friendlier with strangers and other pets. They also prefer being cuddled and held more compared to females.

However, female Maltese can also be affectionate in their own way, but not as obvious as how males show it. They can be playful and cuddly at times, but usually at their own pace and preference.

Are Male or Female Maltese Easier to Train?

Since female Maltese mature earlier, they’re easier to train and are highly focused when being taught commands. The female’s more relaxed nature is also a significant factor in training it more smoothly.

Male Maltese, on the other hand, can also be trained since they’re very eager to please their owners. However, due to their playful nature, they quickly lose focus and get distracted easily.

Final Thoughts

Maltese are affectionate and gentle dogs, regardless of gender. Their bravery, friendliness, and loyalty are admirable traits, making them a fantastic addition to the family.

Remember that all the information stated here serves as a guide and doesn’t perfectly reflect how a male or female Maltese would act. All dogs have their own personalities and quirks.

If you haven’t reached a verdict yet on whether to choose a male or female Maltese, it all boils down to preference.

Which gender do you think is more compatible with you? Let us know your thoughts about the male and the female Maltese by leaving a comment below!

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