Maltese Lifespan – How Long Do Maltese Dogs Live?

Do you have a Maltese at home? You may be wondering about their life expectancy and how to care for them to prevent critical health problems. If you are aware of common issues and causes of premature death, it’ll help you ensure your dog has a long and healthy life. 

Take a look at the most common health issues that a Maltese Terrier faces, warning signs, and the preventive tips and tricks to keep them healthy and happy. 

maltese lifespan
What is the Maltese lifespan? How long does a Maltese dog live?

Life Expectancy of Maltese Dogs

Maltese dogs have an average life expectancy of 12 to 15 years, with some Maltese dogs making it up to 18 years and more in some cases. Such numbers are impressive, especially when you consider that other breeds regularly have averaged as low as 5 to 8 years. 

Interestingly, there are differences concerning life expectancy within the breed that depends on the sex of the dog. Female Maltese dogs, on average, will outlive males by months to years.

However, with age comes various ailments and other complications, as is expected with any breed. Thankfully, their problems are few, and they’re generally easier to deal with as well.  

a maltese puppy takes a forest hike with two owners
A Maltese puppy hiking with two humans. Even small dogs enjoy hikes!

So if you’re attentive to their health needs and routine checkups, you can ensure that they stay around for a long while.

The life expectancy of Maltese terriers can vary considerably due to other factors that may affect their health, such as genetics or even lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet. 

Maltese terriers are not only susceptible to common dog health issues, but they also have their own set of problems that they’re predisposed to as a breed.

What Health Problems Do Maltese dogs Have?

male vs female maltese dogs
A male vs female Maltese dog – very similar appearances!

Although Maltese dogs have long life expectancies, this doesn’t mean that they are free from sickness and other ailments. There are several problems that you may have to deal with as a Maltese owner.

Some illnesses affect small breed dogs as a whole, and other illnesses are specific to Maltese dogs. Below are the four most common health problems for Maltese dogs.

Keeping Puppy Teeth

With Maltese dogs, dental problems rear their head quite often. Maltese dogs often retain their milk teeth, which can affect them tremendously. In addition, it causes their gums to be sore, making the process of chewing painful.

In other words, the puppy teeth fail to fall out. Unfortunately, this occurrence doesn’t leave much room for growing adult teeth, and they end up fighting for space in the mouth of the small dog. Apart from making eating more of a chore than it should be for the dog, this problem is related to dental cavities and should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Problems with the Gut

Maltese dogs do not discriminate when it comes to selecting a food item. Maltese dogs will make a meal out of virtually anything, and therefore without proper training, the little guys can hurt themselves. 

Their indiscriminate eating is the source of most of their gut problems, including diarrhea, vomiting, and ulcers. With aging Maltese dogs, these problems are more common because of the deterioration of gut health.

Genetic Abnormalities

maltese puppy vs maltipoo puppy
Both Maltese and Maltipoo puppies are vibrant and energy-packed

Maltese dogs are predisposed to a range of genetic abnormalities. That includes skeletal malformation, hormonal abnormalities, and abnormal eyelash position.

As a result, these anomalies can lessen the quality of life for your Maltese. They may cause mood swings, bad odors, and so on. Furthermore, if it is not treated, it can lessen their life expectancy.


Hypoglycemia is a problem for most small breed dogs. It’s no secret that these dogs are playful and energetic, and if their calorie intake doesn’t keep up with their energetic lifestyle, there’s a risk of hypoglycemia. 

This describes what happens to the blood sugar levels that are lower than what is necessary to keep the dog healthy and functioning.

happy maltese puppy
A super happy Maltese puppy

How Do I Know If My Maltese Is Having Health Problems?

Our dogs can’t tell us if something’s not right. That’s why it’s our responsibility to observe their physical and emotional conditions when it seems like they may be suffering in silence. Various clues help us pick up on health issues so that we can act accordingly. 

Eating Habits

Maltese dogs typically have a healthy appetite, and they eat ravenously. However, if you notice that your dog’s appetite has significantly decreased, and their food bowl is still full after feeding time, they might have a problem. 

Not having an appetite is amongst the most telling symptoms related to health problems. It could be as simple as a stomach virus, or it could be lethargy related to an illness. 

Activity Level

You should also take note of how active your Maltese is throughout the day. If you know your dog to be generally upbeat and active, it should alarm you if they’re suddenly dragging their feet and constantly tired or moving slowly. 

You can try to give them a dog treat that they love in the instance that they’re experiencing hypoglycemia. Then, if they still seem a little off, immediately take them to the vet to take out more serious health concerns. 


A Maltese has an extremely sensitive coat and skin. You can usually detect internal problems by the signs on their coat. They could be experiencing something like hair loss, a skin rash, abnormal growths, and so on. All of these symptoms are indicative of a more significant health problem. 

maltipoo puppy smiling
A super happy Maltipoo puppy

Bowel Movements

If you notice that your dog’s bowel movements are different than usual, this is a major sign of an ill or dying pooch. How often are they going? What’s the consistency? Do you see anything like worms, mucous, or blood in their stools?

Life-threatening complications will present as excessive vomiting and diarrhea and a few of the symptoms above. Never ignore these signs and assume that they’ll just pass. Instead, take your Maltese to the vet as soon as possible to treat the underlying problem, if possible. 

How Can I Keep My Maltese Healthy?

Luckily, Maltese dogs are a pretty low-maintenance dog that doesn’t need too much upkeep. These dogs are typically healthy and vibrant little creatures.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your dog in the best condition possible to reach its full life span and even further:

Develop a Tailored Meal Plan

This tip speaks to only providing your dog with top-quality foods and snacks. Make sure you’re aware of the foods that aren’t good for them and stay away. They should get fed regularly, in intervals, if you want to prevent any problems such as hypoglycemia or obesity. 

Don’t give your dog table food, as their stomachs are different from ours, and they will have some digestive issues if you do this regularly. 

Regular Exercise

Your Maltese doesn’t have to run around all day long, but they should be getting regular exercise to promote musculoskeletal health. Physical activity also helps support a healthy metabolism. In addition, Maltese dogs are more susceptible to joint and muscle problems, so moving around is particularly vital for their overall well-being. 

Providing your Maltese with about 30 minutes of play a day helps them tremendously. Taking a walk or playing fetch in the backyard are both great ideas. 

long hair maltipoo dog
The long straight white hair of a longer haired Maltese. Stylin’!

Going to the Veterinarian

As a pet owner, make it a regular occurrence to take your Maltese to the vet periodically. Stay on top of any shots or standard wellness checks. If you pick up on any symptoms of illness, take them to the vet to rule out serious conditions and receive adequate treatment early on. 

Try Health Supplements

Adding a supplement to your dog’s diet is a good idea, the same way we humans take multivitamins. It’s easy to be deficient in something that can throw your body off ever so slightly. So it can’t hurt to give your dog a little extra TLC to help them thrive. 

Final Thoughts

Maltese dogs have the opportunity to live a good, long life if cared for correctly. With one of the longest life expectancies amongst small dogs, they’re a great addition to the family. 

Remember to keep an eye on your Maltese and exercise the preventative tips listed to avoid health complications or premature death. Familiarize yourself with the foods that make up a well-balanced diet. Above all, love on your Maltese like no one’s business! It truly does enhance their quality of life!