Maltese vs Yorkie [Breed Comparison with photos]

If finding a new four-legged friend is on your agenda, there are dozens of dog breeds to choose from, making the decision difficult. However, for any dog lover who prefers small breeds, two of the more popular choices are the Maltese and Yorkie options.

As a family dog breed expert, I get asked all the time to help families decide between two breeds. You are not alone in comparing the Maltese vs Yorkie! In this article we will break down the attribute and help you make an informed adoption choice. 

So, how do you choose between these two lovable breeds? Owning a dog is a long-term commitment and should not be a rush or impulse decision. You will be responsible for the ongoing needs and care for the animal throughout their life.

This comparison guide helps differentiate Maltese vs. Yorkie dogs and which attributes are better suited for you as a dog owner. 

The Breakdown Between Maltese vs. Yorkie Breeds 

maltese vs yorkie colors
There are plenty of Maltese and Yorkie colors (though Yorkies have more variance than Maltese)

Comparing two dog breeds requires a breakdown of each attribute and the characteristics. This way, the differences between the two breeds will be more apparent to help you choose. 

Both the Maltese and the Yorkie breeds are tiny dogs, making them ideal for many families. But, first, let’s take a look at what makes each species unique. 


The Maltese will grow anywhere between seven to ten inches tall and weigh between four and nine pounds. The adult Maltese’s size will depend on whether it is male or female and the size of its parents. 

A Yorkie dog will average between four to seven pounds and measure eight to nine inches tall. Similarly, a Yorkie’s size depends on its parents, but many Yorkies are between that one-inch variation since there is not much diversity. 

Yorkies will, on average, stay between eight and nine inches, while Maltese dogs can be smaller or larger, giving you more variety. These small dogs make terrific pets in apartments or homes with small yards and do fine in large homes. 

Coat Color and Grooming Needs 

maltese vs yorkie comparison
Comparing the Maltese vs Yorkie mini dog breeds. Both super cute!

The coat on Maltese can grow in a straight, feathered pattern and be moderately long. These dogs require daily grooming, especially if their fur is long to avoid getting mats. On the other hand, they are low-shedding dogs and do not create much dander, making them ideal for people with allergies.

Yorkie dogs have quite fine, silky hair that comes in many colors, including black, tan, gold, and blue. Many will have longer coats that require a great deal of grooming to stay healthy and free of mats. Yorkies do not shed much and have very little dander, which can also be perfect for allergy sufferers. 

Both these dog breeds will need moderate to high grooming needs, with the Yorkie being more high-maintenance. There is no color variety with Maltese, but Yorkies can have a blend of many color options. Both breeds are acceptable for owners with allergies. 

Life Expectancy, Energy, and Exercise Needs  of Maltese vs Yorkies

tiny yorkie and small maltese
Both breeds are super tiny – and both require some grooming

Bringing a dog home is a significant commitment, even when they are small. The Maltese breed has a life expectancy of 15 to 18 years with proper care and regular veterinarian visits. However, they can be prone to genetic issues, including hypoglycemia, reverse sneezing, and others. 

You can expect a Maltese dog to have a moderate energy level when comparing this breed to others. Your pup will need regular exercise each day and stimulating toys, but you should not expect them to go on long hikes with you on the weekends. 

When you bring home a Yorkie, you will have a friend for 12 to 16 years with proper veterinarian care and a healthy diet. But, unfortunately, these small dogs can develop common health problems, including collapsed trachea, progressive retinal atrophy, and others. 

Yorkies are high-energy dogs and like to be active during the day. Therefore, regular walks and playtime are a must, along with many mentally stimulating toys to keep their mind busy and entertained. With proper training, your Yorkie can tag along with you on long walks, but they will tire out before a large breed dog would. 


Both of these small breeds are terrific dogs to have in apartments or homes with small yards where they can run around and play for exercise. Of course, they require regular walks, but you should not expect any long endurance needs from either. 

When comparing the Maltese to the Yorkie, the Maltese will have less energy than the Yorkie, making it better for someone who needs a pet that will not be as busy around the home. 

malese and yorkie puppy
A beautiful duo of Maltese dogs and a similarly tiny and cute Yorkie pup

Temperament and Sociability 

The temperament of an animal can be the deciding factor for many dog owners. When examining the Maltese breed, this dog has a terrific disposition. They are loyal and affectionate with their owners and possess a docile, easy-going nature. 

The Maltese are incredibly social and require connection with people. They can suffer from separation anxiety when left alone for too long and may develop attachment issues to their humans. They will need consistent socialization with people outside the home to remain friendly with others. 

Yorkies are fun, playful dogs with a friendly demeanor. They are highly affectionate and loyal but have an independent streak that makes them very curious by nature. Similarly, this breed can quickly become attached to their humans and develop separation issues if left alone for too long. They require constant interaction to remain pleasant to others. 

Temperament Takeaways of Maltese vs Yorkie Dogs

Both Maltese and Yorkie dogs are highly affectionate, loyal pets and require continuous human interaction to remain sociable. Depending on the individual dog, the Maltese may have more separation issues than the Yorkie when you leave them alone for some time. 

Intelligence and Training Ability 

Another critical element when choosing an animal is how smart they are and how easy it is to train them. Maltese dogs do not have above-average intelligence, and some may find that they are on the lower end of the intelligence scale. Even so, this breed is relatively easy to train simple commands and will listen to their handlers when there is a connection between them. 

The Yorkie is a highly intelligent dog breed. They will pick up on commands and their boundaries very quickly and listen intently to their owners. They are, by nature, alert and curious most of the time, making them ready to process their environment at any time. 


While both of these breeds are pretty easy to train, the Yorkie is the more intelligent dog of the two and will gladly perform many commands and tricks to the delight of their owners. 

Barking and Mouthiness 

Dog lovers can have concerns about small breeds barking and biting, with good reason. Some smaller dogs will act more aggressively and make their presence known. 

Maltese dogs are very vocal and will bark to often communicate with their owners. They get along well with children, cats, and other dogs in the home when properly introduced. This breed is not prevalent to biting but has an average tendency to nip, play-bite, chew on items, and herd if allowed. 

Yorkies are similar in barking tendencies and will alert their humans of any changes in the environment or if they want something from their owner. They have a lower chance of nipping, chewing, or herding people than other small breeds. Although their prey drive is lower than that of a Maltese, they may not be the best pet to have around small children, cats, or other dogs. 


The home environment is the best determiner to which of these small breeds will suit you best. Both dogs can be quite vocal, but the Maltese will generally do better in a home with other animals and children. 

maltese and yorkie dogs
Grooming Maltese and Yorkie dogs requires some effort.

Final Considerations of Maltese vs Yorkie

There are many elements to consider when comparing Maltese vs. Yorkie breeds before deciding which one to bring home as your new family pet. Both breeds are small, easy to care for, and will be affectionate and loyal members of your family. 

If you already have animals in the home or small children, you may want to choose a Maltese over a Yorkie. Yorkies are highly-intelligent and will do quite well with many families with proper training and introductions.