Skip to main content

Living With and Caring For a Maltese Dog

Maria is a master gardener and master of public health. She & her husband, known online as The Gardener & The Cook, live in coastal Alabama.

The Adorable Maltese

Meet our little Maltese, "Madamoiselle Coco Chanel", a.k.a. "C.C."

When we first brought her home, C.C. was 8-1/2 weeks old, weighed 1.3 pounds, and could be held in two hands cupped together. That day we began the wonderful experience of living with and caring for a Maltese dog. Her full name is a mouthfull, so she chose to go by her initials, "C.C." Like all babies, for the first few months, she kept a cycle of sleep, eat, potty, play; sleep, eat, potty, play.... I fell in love with her almost the minute I saw her, definitely the minute I first held her. She was truly a people dog. She loved people, and never met a stranger. We lost her to liver disease just 3 months shy of her 13th birthday.

The love of people is true of all the Maltese dogs I've ever known. They are excellent companion dogs. It seemed to be a good thing that she was so friendly, but it also meant she would go home with anyone, and actually tried to do just that. She tried to go with the FedEx man, the UPS man, the HVAC repair guy, and she cried when any guest left our home. So we really had to watch her.

Like Many Small Dogs, the Maltese Has Hair, Not Fur

Like some other dogs, the Maltese has hair rather than fur. Left uncut, it will grow quite long, just as your hair will. Letting your Maltese have long hair, like show dogs, makes your dog extremely high maintenance. Because of this, most Maltese owners keep the hair in what is referred to as a "puppy cut". Still, their hair should be brushed daily or, at the very least, every other day, to prevent matting. Removing matted hair is very painful for your dog. A Maltese should be bathed weekly, and professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks.

C.C., at Age 7

C.C., at Age 7

C.C., at Age 7

We Often Heard, "How do you keep her face so clean?"

Many people asked how we kept C.C.'s face so clean. It seems to be the best-kept secret around. Like most white dogs, C.C. had the red tear stains beneath her eyes and around her mouth from her constant licking. A neighbor's dog even has the redness on his feet where he has licked them. I tried not letting her eat the red dog biscuits. That didn't help. I tried the liquid tear-stain removers. Again, no luck. Somewhere I read about putting a mixture of peroxide and Milk of Magnesia on the stained hair. I tried that, too. No luck there, either.

Finally, I discovered a product called "Angels' Eyes". It worked wonders. Angels' Eyes is a food supplement; and as long as we added it to her food a few times per week she had no red staining at all. It's not cheap, but is well worth the cost. She still got the dried mucus just below the inside corner of her eyes. I used a warm wet cloth to soften it, and it came off easily.

If your pet has red tear-staining, you will need to put Angels' Eyes in his/her food every day for a couple of weeks, then no less than once per week from then on. It comes in different flavors. C.C.'s favorite was chicken. The pet store person told me to give her about 3/4 teaspoon each time. Once, when I forgot to order it, the staining returned after about 2 weeks without it. I didn't forget again. For more information on Angels' Eyes, please to to my article on How to Prevent Red Tear Stains on a White Dog. I just learned this product is now available in soft chews. C.C. would have loved that.

Now Angels' Eyes is Available in Soft Chews -- C.C. Would Have Loved Those

Luxating Patella Is Common to Maltese Dogs

C.C. also has a luxating patella, i.e., a kneecap that occasionally pops out of place. It is a condition often called "floating kneecap". It seems to be most common in small and toy breeds. I'm told this is an especially common problem for this breed. Sometimes she yelped for no apparent reason when we reached to pick her up, especially if one of us bumped her leg in the process. Occasionally, she had problems jumping up onto a chair. Other times she seemed to be fine, which is part of this condition -- the pain seems to come unexpectedly, and to go just as quickly as it came.

For most of her life, she took a glucosomine and chondroitin compound for that. Our vet recommended Synovi 3G Soft Chews. They were pretty big for C.C., so we broke them into little pieces for her. The patella problem bothered her a lot when she was very young. As she got older, it didn't at all, but having the condition predisposed her to arthritis. Maybe it's the Synovi -- who knows? I'm just grateful my baby was no longer in pain.

The Essential Maltese

This little paperback was a huge help to me in learning about this adorable breed of dogs.

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I AM a lapdog. That's my job." - C.C. takes this "lapdog" thing very seriously.


This is a photo of her at 6-1/2 years old, and about 10 pounds. Funny, they told me she would grow only to somewhere between 4 and 6 pounds. So, as Malteses go, she's a whopper. She's happiest when she has a lap to lie on.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie -- the First Day in Her New Home


The First Day in Her New Home

"Can't you people see I'm trying to sleep here?"

We were new doggie parents for the first time in many years. We had a lot to learn. This was a series of firsts for me:

- my first small dog

- my first indoor dog

- my first purebred dog

Scroll to Continue

The Maltese has tiny delicate bones, and can easily be injured. Because of this, they don't make good pets around small children who don't understand this. When C.C. was about 4 pounds, our then-3-year-old next door neighbor tried to pick her up by her head. I had to intervene quickly and explain that this was not a stuffed animal toy, but a real dog.

Speaking of "toys" several people have asked me if she is a "Toy Maltese". There is no such animal. The Maltese is one of a breed group called Toy, so, in this respect, all Maltese are "toys", though they do vary in size.

C.C. Could Sing -- American Idol, Anyone? - She could even spell!


In this photo, she is singing to me. The sound is difficult to describe, it's kind of a warble, and sounds a bit like, "Woo, woo, woo". She had quite a large vocabulary, and we had to spell certain words around her. Some of the words we had to spell were cat, cookie, chicken, treat, bath, and bed, (if we're not ready to go to bed). Occasionally, even when we spelled, she knew what we meant.

C.C. Loved Her Doggie Car Seat


Safety For Our Dogs

C.C. Says a Car is Not the Only Way to Travel

She loved her doggy car seat, but she really loved traveling in the basket of the golf cart.

She loved her doggy car seat, but she really loved traveling in the basket of the golf cart.

C.C. in Her Raincoat - "Aw, gee, Mom. Do I have to?"


It was really strange. She would cower and try to hide when she saw one of us holding the raincoat, and she put on an act of trembling while we were putting it on her. But she would not go outside in the rain without the raincoat. Who knows what went on in that little brain.

The Art of Racing In the Rain

A wonderful book told from the dog's point of view. This story will make you laugh, cry, be angry, sad -- almost all the emotions a human can feel. We heard the audio book version of it on a cross-country trip, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Take this poll about pets.

Things C.C. Loved

  • Her favorite food was chicken, but she would eat almost anything.
  • She loved to play chase, but it had to be her idea. (Sounds like some people I know.)
  • Dry Cheerios
  • Her back yard
  • Attention
  • A long, lazy nap
  • People
  • A lap to sit in
  • A bedtime snack
  • Bedtime

Things C.C. Hated

  • Top on her very short list was cats
  • Loud noises
  • Being ignored
  • Being startled
  • Coffee

As a matter of fact, I am a lapdog!

— C.C.

Take this poll about pets.

Thank you for visiting C.C. and me. I hope you found this page to be useful to you, especially if you are just now trying to choose the right pet for your home and family.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 MariaMontgomery

Do You Now Know More About Caring for a Maltese?

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on December 17, 2017:

Thanks for the info.

Michelle Davis on November 01, 2017:

My Maltese is 15. When he was about 6 months my vet told me to start giving him Ozarka bottled water only. That all the tearing and coloration. Would clear right up. It did and he has had clear eyes for 14 1/2 years.

AustriaChick on June 09, 2012:

C.C. looks like she has a pretty good life ... Maltese are the BEST!

ria on June 06, 2012:

She is gorgeous, I really enjoyed this lens

DesignZeal on December 10, 2011:

Awww, C.C. is adorable! She was so cute as puppy it must have been unbearable. I have a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua mix and it was the puppy everyone wanted to hold and baby around :) they are just irresistible!

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on November 20, 2011:

What a cute little doggie CC is!

Lynne Modranski from Ohio on November 06, 2011:

She's beautiful!

Tracy Arizmendi from Northern Virginia on November 04, 2011:

This made me miss her so much!!!!! You forgot to talk aboutbher game of chase!

Delia on October 29, 2011:

Oh what a sweet story about C.C....I had a Maltese named Contessa Noella she now has gone to doggie heaven... she was the fur-friend of our lives at the time...she is missed.

~d-artist Squid Blessing~

Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on October 12, 2011:

I loved the book, The Art of Racing in the Rain! If you loved that, you will also want to read A Dog's Purpose. Let me know what you think. Thanks for your visit and comment. Your little CC is so cute!

Mickie Gee on September 30, 2011:

Must come visit C.C. very soon. We are due for a "dog fix".

MariaMontgomery (author) from Coastal Alabama, USA on September 27, 2011:

@imolaK: Thank you, imolaK, for the angel blessing. It is appreciated.

imolaK on September 26, 2011:

C.C. is a very cute dog. Blessed!

Related Articles