Scratch Dog or Not – Are Maltese Hypoallergenic?

Allergies are a big problem the world over with millions of people not able to fulfill their wish of owning a dog. If you suffer from pet allergies you will recognize the symptoms;


  • Runny nose
  • Streaming eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Congestion

Not pleasant! The good news is there are dog breeds that do not shed (non-molting dogs) and one of the best is the little Maltese dog from, yes, you've guessed Malta.

There is no such thing as a completely allergy-free dog breed as it is not just the fur that causes reactions but also urine, saliva and dander (flakes of skin) but surprisingly considering their flowing locks the stunning Maltese comes pretty close.

Of course. allergic reactions vary and some are so severe that it is impossible to live with man's best friend but for those who have manageable symptoms the hypoallergenic Maltese is an excellent choice.

​Is It True, Are Maltese Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The answer is a big, fat, YES, the Maltese is hypoallergenic. Unfortunately, when we look into the exact meaning of the word. Do Maltese shed? No! However, it does not mean there isn't still the potential for a reaction and caution must be used before committing to bringing any dog into your home.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

When I tell you, the word was developed by ad-men you will not be surprised to find out, it doesn't mean what most people assume it does. While many presume it to mean allergy-free it actually means there is a lower than normal chance of triggering an allergic reaction. Whether it is a skin-care product, soap powder, foodstuff or dog there are no guarantees.

3 Reasons Why the Maltese is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

The Maltese dog breed has hair like you and I so there is virtually no shedding maybe the odd hair occasionally but not enough to cause problems for most allergy sufferers.

He is a small dog and you can even get teacup Maltese dogs that are tiny. This means less skin so less dander, one of the main causes of the sniffles.

Non-show dogs can be clipped leaving a short-haired Maltese that requires nothing more than a daily brush to keep Maltese shedding to a minimum.

The Maltese and allergies - What should I do?

Although the Maltese dog is a non-shedding dog it is still advisable to use caution when choosing any hypoallergenic breed especially if your allergies are severe. Maltese Puppies, in fact all pups have no old skin to shed, producing virtually no dander so being able to tolerate a cute baby Maltese is no guarantee that you will not be allergic to an adult Maltese. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons so many so-called hypoallergenic dog breeds end up in shelters.

With this in mind, it is advisable to spend some time with the breed of your choice before looking for Maltese puppies for sale. Some things you could try, include:

  • Go online, the internet is a great resource for anything dog related. Join breeds groups and forums. This will give you tons of information about the breed from owners and other allergy sufferers along with cute pictures of Maltese dogs . It will also let you know if there are any local events, dog shows, fun days and group walks are a great way to spend time with these charming little dogs and hopefully the time spent with them will be itch-free.
  • Another great way to see if you and a Maltese dog can be together is to volunteer for a breed specific Maltese rescue as a temporary foster. Not only will you be helping an unwanted dog you may just fall in love with your guest and decide to adopt.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Bathe your dog regularly. The Maltese needs bathing regularly to keep his coat looking bright and white, this will also help keep allergens at a controllable level. Always use a gentle moisturizing shampoo to prevent his sensitive skin from drying out.
  • Wash all dog bedding and clothes (Many Maltese owners dress their dogs but that's a whole other article) weekly on a hot wash of at least 60°.
  • Check
    Clean any dog toys regularly. Saliva can be a big problem for allergy sufferers so bowls and toys which have been licked should be handled carefully and washed daily.
  • Check
    Urine can also trigger a reaction so housebreaking is essential asap. Also designate a toilet area for your pooch that is nowhere near the house and keep fur near those bits clean.
  • Check
    Vacuum daily, preferably with a cleaner fitted with a HEPA filter this will pick up the odd stray hair and also any other particles which may attach themselves to your pet's coat.

All about the Maltese - Origin of the Breed

The Maltese dog is an ancient breed and although it is thought to have originated on the Mediterranean island of Malta many believe it is descended from the Tibetan Terrier arriving in Europe along with the nomadic tribes.

​References to this little breed can be found in both Greek and Roman literature. Prized by nobility and royalty it's size and warm affectionate nature gained the Maltese the nickname of "the comforter".

Popular in England during the 16th century both Queen Elizabeth 1 and Mary Queen of Scots were said to own Maltese dogs. When dog shows began in the late 19th century the Maltese could be of any color and the first import into the USA was a dog believed to be white with black ears, he was entered into the Westminster dog show in 1879 as a Maltese Terrier.

There was much experimentation with the breed both in America and the UK one record of crossbreeding was with a black Pomeranian which resulted in a litter of black Maltese. Many Poodle kennels were involved in developing the breed in those early days and the small size and color were eventually locked into the standard.

Since the 1950's the breed has grown in popularity with many celebrity owners including Elizabeth Taylor, Eva Longoria, Britney Spears, Halle Berry and Madonna to name a few. The breed is currently ranked at #33 by the AKC and with their stunning looks, affectionate Maltese personality and playful nature we can see this non-molting dog's fashionableness continuing to rise.

General Appearance​

The hypoallergenic Maltese is tiny weighing between 3-10 lbs, the American Kennel Club requires them to be 4-7lbs in weight and the Maltese size should be between 7-12 inches at the shoulder.

They are a squarely built dog (as long as they are tall) with a round head, black button nose and dark expressive eyes. Their tails are almost always carried over the back.

The Maltese coat is exceptional, long flowing and white it has no undercoat and is silky to the touch. It requires a lot of maintenance therefore most pet owners' favorite Maltese haircut is the "puppy coat" where the coat is shaved to less than an inch all over the body.


The Maltese was bred to be a companion dog and in this aspect, he excels, as they adore their owners sticking to their sides like glue. The Maltese personality is playful, affectionate and sweet-natured, he is everybody's friend.

This breed does not do well left on their own and is not suitable for people who work full-time in fact, they often suffer from separation anxiety which can lead to excessive barking. The Maltese can be yappy and this is listed as one of the main reasons many are given to shelters, they were at one time Australia's most abandoned dog breed.

With a little time and patience behavioral problems like this can be ironed out and the little Maltese has so many positive qualities to focus on. Gentle, happy and loyal they make great therapy dogs and fantastic pets.

Source: Wikihow


The Maltese dog breed's lifespan is 12-15 years and they are generally healthy. However, some problems can arise and are more common in the Bichon-type breeds. Some health problems that affect the Maltese include:

  • Liver shunt
  • Heart murmurs
  • White dog shaker syndrome
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Skin problems
  • Collapsed trachea
  • Patellar luxation
  • Asthma
  • Cataracts

Like many of the small hypoallergenic dog breeds the Maltese is prone to allergies his fine single-layer coat offers little protection and skin problems in this breed are common. Maltese allergies can be caused by:

  • Poor quality diet
  • Seasons
  • Poor shampoo or coat products
  • Household products
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Pollen
  • Medications
  • Flea bites

There are precautions you can take and allergy sufferers will understand this more than others, they will usually be using natural products and trying to keep allergens to a minimum so the allergic Maltese couldn't be in better hands.


What food you decide to give your new best friend will have a large impact on their health. Small dog breeds need food that is calorie dense and rich in nutrients. A Maltese puppy should be free fed that is food left out constantly this is because small breeds can suffer from low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) if not fed often enough. From 12 weeks, it is better to start giving 3-4 scheduled meals per day. An adult Maltese will require between 1/2-3/4 cups of high-quality small breed dog food divided into these 3 meals.

As the Maltese dog breed can be prone to allergies you may prefer to check out some of the hypoallergenic small breed dog foods there are available. You will want to avoid things such as fillers, artificial colors, preservatives and meat by-products, also avoid food and treats made in China. Dog food products (including treats) imported from China have been blamed for hundreds of deaths and thousands of sick dogs as they don't have the same regulations and standards as the US.

Source: Pixabay

Finding A Good Maltese Breeder

Once you have decided the Maltese is the right breed there is more to it than just searching for "Maltese puppies for sale near me" Finding a good breeder is essential if you want a healthy puppy with an excellent Maltese temperament.

Like all the incredibly cute small hypoallergenic dogs this breed is a popular resident at puppy mills and is often seen in pet stores. Do not be tempted to purchase from either while you may pay less (not always the case) you are taking a big risk on both the health and personality of your new four-legged friend.

A good breeder will be pleased to answer questions and offer advice on the continuing welfare of the puppy. They will have questions to ask you too regarding your lifestyle and why you have chosen the breed. They will provide all the relevant health screening results and be happy for you to talk to previous buyers. They will often agree to take back any Maltese puppies they have bred if it needs to be rehomed, something that unfortunately, needs to be a consideration for those who suffer from pet allergies.

A good starting point is the American Maltese Association who can give you information on breeders in your area or once again the internet comes into its own and I don't mean checking out the online classifieds. You can talk to owners in various online groups and make a shortlist of their recommendations. Always check out 2-3 breeders before making that final decision.

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching a Maltese Breeder

  • Do not buy a Maltese puppy from someone who has multiple breeds and/or litters available. A reputable breeder only has 1 or 2 litters a year and there can be a waiting list for available puppies.
  • Avoid Maltese breeders who are not knowledgeable about the breed. If they don't know the health issues it is unlikely the will have conducted the recommended health screening for the breed.
  • Word of mouth is the best endorsement of any Maltese breeder so a good one will be happy to provide references. If they don't want to or can't there is something off!

Adopting a Maltese from a Rescue or Shelter

Adopting a fully-grown Maltese is an excellent option. This way you know exactly what you are getting and whether your dog-owning experience will be itch-free. Puppies have little or no dander, so it often happens that the new owner has no reaction to a puppy but this can change as the dog matures and is often the reason dogs are given up for rescue.

The Maltese is a relatively common dog in shelters along with many different Maltese crossbreeds, which could also be hypoallergenic. Getting a dog from a Maltese rescue will also give you the opportunity to spend time with your pooch of choice especially if you foster first.

This option is also less expensive for those allergy sufferers who would love the companionship of a dog but don't have the funds to pay hundreds of dollars. You may need to pay an adoption fee for your allergy-free Maltese but giving an unwanted dog a loving home is priceless.​

Source: Pixabay

It's a Wrap

With more people than ever suffering from Asthma and allergies the good news is; there are options when it comes to sharing your home with man's best friend, and one of the best is the little dog from Malta.

The Maltese is a cheerful, affectionate little dog who is everyone's friend. While he can be a bit yappy his endearing expression is hard to resist and he will follow you everywhere.

While no dog is completely allergy friendly the hypoallergenic Maltese is a great choice for those who want their doggy cuddles to be sneeze-free.

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

Leave a Reply

Notify of