Teacup Maltese: Your Complete Guide

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There’s something about tiny things—they are just so adorable. The Maltese is already a diminutive breed, but the teacup is even more miniature! These pups are super cute but, unfortunately, are very rare when it comes to ethical breeding practices.

Many teacup breeds, including the teacup Maltese, are produced by inhumane, greedy breeders who use techniques such as withholding nutrition to stunt growth or inbreeding their smallest Maltese pups. Unfortunately, both scenarios typically result in dogs with myriad health issues into their adult years.

However, it is possible to find teacup Maltese puppies that are bred ethically. If you are up for that challenge, our article will tell you how to find an ethical breeder. Of course, this is a complete guide, so you’ll be learning absolutely everything you could possibly want or need to know about the teacup Maltese.

We’ll share information about this breed’s history, size, temperament, barking habits, grooming needs, shedding levels, energy levels, trainability, and more. If you have a question about the teacup Maltese, you’ll likely find the answer in this article, so keep reading!

A Quick Look at the Teacup Maltese

If you’d like to quickly understand what to expect from the teacup Maltese, check out this chart!

Weight/Height 3-5 lbs, 4-6 in.
Coat Type Long, silky
Grooming Needs Average to high
Shedding Low
Temperament Affectionate, friendly, playful, brave, stubborn
Good With Kids Older, gentle kids only
Good With Other Animals Yes
Intelligence Average
Easy to Train Can be stubborn
Energy Level Average
Barking Habits Frequent barker
Lifespan 12-15 years

What Is the History of Teacup Maltese?

The teacup Maltese is simply a smaller version of the Maltese. This breed has a very interesting history and hails from Malta, an island state in the Mediterranean just below Sicily. Aristotle described the ancestors of this breed as “perfectly proportioned.”

The Maltese was also quite popular amongst the nobles of the Roman empire. These dogs were often pampered lapdogs seen as accessories and symbols of wealth.

After Rome fell, the Chinese kept the breed from extinction by crossing it with their own native breeds. They then exported the Maltese back into Europe. Today, the Maltese is still a relatively popular choice of dog, ranking 39th out of 197 on the AKC’s 2021 Most Popular Dog Breeds list.
White Maltese puppy lies in a wicker basket

What Do Teacup Maltese Look Like?

The teacup Maltese is a tiny little dog with a round head and a bouncy gait. They’re usually pure white in color but can have light tan or lemon coloration on their ears. Their natural coat is long, silky, and straight, but many owners prefer to clip it short.

What Size Is a Teacup Maltese?

The teacup Maltese must be less than 7 inches tall and weigh under 7 pounds to be considered teacup-sized. Most teacup Maltese are between 4 and 6 inches tall and weigh 3 to 5 pounds.

What Is a Teacup Maltese’s Coat Type?

The teacup Maltese has a single-layered coat that is silky, straight, and long — long enough to touch the floor. This type of coat is usually less irritable to people with allergies.
Long-haired Maltese stands against a blue background

What Is a Teacup Maltese’s Temperament?

Teacup Maltese are a joy to own as they are affectionate and friendly but also playful and vivacious. They are one of the gentlest small breeds around. Despite their small size, they are rather brave and a bit stubborn.

Are Teacup Maltese Affectionate?

Teacup Maltese adore their families and are generally affectionate and lovey-dovey. In fact, they tend to love attention and will enjoy sitting in your lap and being petted. They’re friendly with strangers but may not be as excited to meet new people as a golden retriever would be.

Are Teacup Maltese Good With Kids?

Because the teacup Maltese is so small, we would recommend them to families with older children. Young children can often be awkward with the way they handle dogs and may accidentally hurt a dog as small as the teacup Maltese. Otherwise, the teacup Maltese is a great choice for families with kids as the breed is gentle, affectionate, and playful.

Are Teacup Maltese Good With Other Animals?

Teacup Maltese are known to have a low prey drive. This means they are less likely to chase animals in your yard or in your home if you have small pets.

If you have other pets like cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, birds, etc., the teacup Maltese could be a good choice as they will likely leave other animals alone. Of course, it is important to always err on the safe side by keeping dogs leashed or completely away from small animals that they could hurt.

Are Teacup Maltese Aggressive?

Some people believe that small breeds are more feisty. This is not true for the teacup Maltese. As long as they are treated with love and respect, they are unlikely to become aggressive.

It is also important for this diminutive breed (and all breeds, for that matter) to receive socialization during puppyhood. Dogs that are not socialized well are often fearful or nervous, which can cause aggression.

Do Teacup Maltese Bark a Lot?

Teacup Maltese do have a reputation for barking. However, they are no more likely to bark than any other toy breed. Furthermore, excessive barking is usually caused by behavioral issues such as boredom from a lack of mental or physical enrichment, separation anxiety, fear, or nervousness.

It is completely possible to teach a teacup Maltese to bark less. They will probably never be silent, but very few dogs are. Still, it’s important to consider your living situation as a barking Maltese may be an issue in an apartment setting if you don’t work hard on limiting barking.
White Maltese wearing purple bows sits against yellow background

Are Teacup Maltese Intelligent?

Teacup Maltese are not always considered smart when it comes to obedience, but they are very good at getting what they want. In this sense, they can be quite clever. Be careful not to let the teacup Maltese walk all over you.

Are Teacup Maltese Easy to Train?

Because of how clever they are, the teacup Maltese can be somewhat stubborn when it comes to training. Despite this, we still see Maltese thrive in sports such as agility. As long as you are patient, communicate clearly and consistently, and use rewarding training techniques, a teacup Maltese can become a well-trained dog.

For those who are new to dog training and dog ownership, we would definitely recommend hiring a professional to help train them. Even if you’re more experienced, bringing a teacup Maltese to group training can help with socialization and obedience in distracting settings.

Are Teacup Maltese Energetic?

Teacup Maltese are playful, but they are not high-energy dogs. Usually, a daily walk, romp in the yard, or a game of fetch indoors is enough to satisfy their need for activity and exercise.

Are Teacup Maltese Good Apartment Dogs?

Due to their small size, a teacup Maltese is a fantastic breed for apartment living. They don’t need a yard to exercise in or much exercise to begin with. In fact, they’re small enough that you can easily exercise them indoors via play.

It is important to note that teacup Maltese may be barkers, which isn’t preferable for apartment life. Luckily, barking can be prevented or remedied through training, but the breed’s propensity to bark should certainly be considered.

Are Teacup Maltese Good Watchdogs?

You may think a small breed would make for a poor watchdog, but this isn’t true for the teacup Maltese. Instead, this breed will indeed alert you to suspicious activity. Not only that, but they can be rather fearless in the face of a perceived threat.
Maltese lies on wood floor

Are Teacup Maltese Good Service Dogs?

Because of their size, a teacup Maltese wouldn’t be suitable for all types of service work. However, they would make great psychiatric service dogs (PSDs) because they are loving, gentle, and sensitive to human emotion.

These qualities also make them perfect for the role of an emotional support animal. They’re relatively friendly, too, and could excel as therapy dogs.

How to Care for a Teacup Maltese?

Teacup Maltese with long hair need to be brushed daily, whereas those that get trimmed need brushing only once or twice per week. Keep an eye on their nails and clip them as needed, as they grow quickly.

All dogs should have their teeth brushed daily, but this is crucial for teacup Maltese as they are prone to gum disease. In fact, they should have their teeth cleaned professionally by vets at least once per year.

Do You Need to Groom a Teacup Maltese?

Teacup Maltese must be brushed every day if their hair is kept long. Otherwise, it can easily become tangled and matted. For this reason, many teacup Maltese owners prefer to have their pup’s hair clipped short every three weeks or so. You can learn how to do this at home or pay a groomer.

Do Teacup Maltese Shed?

Teacup Maltese are often considered hypoallergenic because they’re a low-shedding breed. No dog is completely hypoallergenic, but a Maltese would be a good choice for someone who struggles with allergies but refuses to live a dog-free life (we can’t blame you).

What Should a Teacup Maltese Eat?

A teacup Maltese should eat the highest quality dog food you can afford. Make sure to pick a food specifically formulated for small breeds. The best kibble meets AAFCO guidelines, is formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, and has undergone feeding trials.

To determine how much to feed a teacup Maltese, you can follow the guidelines on the back of the dog food bag. However, we would strongly suggest you calculate your dog’s daily calorie needs yourself in tandem with checking the food’s recommendations.

This is because their small size makes it easy to misjudge the amount of food they need, resulting in under or overeating. The former can cause issues like low blood sugar, whereas the latter can cause issues such as diabetes. Pay close attention to their weight and adjust the portion size as needed. It can also be helpful to feed several small meals throughout the day.
Two Maltese puppies sitting in a basket

What Health Problems Do Teacup Maltese Have?

Health risks for a teacup Maltese include luxating patella, patent ductus arteriosus, microvascular dysplasia, encephalitis, hypoglycemia, and periodontal disease. They may also be at risk for seizures, respiratory problems, and fragile bones.

Unfortunately, teacup breeds, in general, are often bred in unethical ways. Sometimes this means incestual pairings or purposefully stunted growth via poor nutrition. Obviously, both can lead to serious health issues during adulthood.

Because there is such a huge problem with teacups being unethically bred, it would be best for you to buy a teacup Maltese from a breeder who generally breeds standard, toy-sized Maltese, but whose dogs happened to have puppies that are smaller than average.

In order to have the best chance at a healthy dog, you should ensure you are purchasing from a reputable breeder who health tests their dogs. Health tests ensure the parent dogs are in good shape and will not pass any issues onto their offspring.

You should also ask about their breeding practices and be sure you are able to visit the parent dogs. The breeder should be open to giving you any information you request and should not be keeping secrets about where the dogs are kept or how they are bred.

How Long Do Teacup Maltese Live?

Healthy teacup Maltese have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.
Close-up of a white Maltese lying in the grass

Are Teacup Maltese Expensive?

Purchasing a teacup Maltese can be incredibly expensive. You’ll find them for anywhere between $500 and $6,000. However, the cost may be worth it if the breeder has produced the dog ethically. Unfortunately, a high price tag doesn’t always mean ethical practices.

Some breeders also sell the runts of their standard Maltese litters as teacups. However, these runts could easily grow up to be the same size as a standard (which is still quite small, to be fair). Still, buying a runt from an ethical breeder is a far better option than purchasing a teacup from someone who has performed inbreeding or other inhumane practices.

If you are lucky enough to find an ethically bred teacup Maltese that retains their good health, then they aren’t too expensive to keep. The main costs will be their food, regular vet checkups, and grooming — the last of which you can learn to do yourself.

However, if you were to get a teacup Maltese that was not bred ethically or is prone to the health risks teacups face, then these dogs can be incredibly expensive as they will need frequent trips to the vet. If you’re considering getting a teacup Maltese, be very careful about where you get the dog and consider purchasing a pet insurance plan, just in case.

How to Find a Teacup Maltese Breeder?

We know you are perfectly capable of browsing the internet to find breeders. Instead, we’d like to give you a list of questions you should be asking. Considering how many shady teacup breeders are out there, it’s crucial that you are judicious.

  • What are your credentials? You should learn about how long the breeder has been in business as well as how familiar they are with the Maltese and teacup Maltese as a breed.
  • Have the parent animals undergone health testing? Ask to see these tests.
  • Can I see where the dogs are kept? A respectable breeder should be happy to show you the dogs’ living conditions.
  • Can I meet the parents? This will give you a sense of the parent dogs’ temperaments and the potential temperaments of the puppies.
  • How do you socialize your puppies? Socialization is important for puppies to become friendly and confident.
  • Are the puppies up-to-date on vaccination? You need to know your puppy’s health history so that you know which shots are still needed.
  • Do you offer a health guarantee with a contract? Some breeders guarantee the health of their puppies: should your puppy come down with a serious illness early on (or even at any time during their life), the breeder may offer to reimburse the dog’s purchase price or even take the puppy back. This will also help you avoid purchasing from irresponsible breeders.
  • What do you require of potential adopters? Many breeders want to make sure their puppies are going to homes where they will be treated well and kept for life. Therefore, breeders may ask a number of questions about you, your situation, and your experience as a dog owner. If the breeder doesn’t seem to care who takes their puppies home, then they’re more interested in money than the animal’s well-being, which is obviously a huge red flag.

Can You Adopt a Teacup Maltese?

 It is not easy to find teacup Maltese at rescues. Your best bet would be to look for rescues dedicated to Maltese in general and see if they have any dogs small enough to be considered teacup-sized.

Are Teacup Maltese Purebred?

The answer is yes and no. The teacup Maltese is simply a smaller version of the Maltese and is not a separate breed or a mixed breed. However, because the teacup does not fit the AKC’s standard for height and weight, the organization will refuse to register them.

Can You Show Teacup Maltese?

Even though the teacup Maltese is not a mixed breed, they still cannot be shown. Their diminutive stature does not fit the breed standard for Maltese and thus would not be eligible for showing.
Long-haired Maltese lies down against black background

Are Teacup Maltese Good for New Dog Owners?

Personality-wise, a teacup Maltese would be a wonderful first dog for an inexperienced owner. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find teacup breeds that are bred ethically. Because of this, we feel that inexperienced owners would be better off getting a standard toy-sized Maltese.

If it’s your first time adopting a dog, you’ll have no reference for what the process is like or should be like, and you may be less aware of red flags. You could very well end up having a horrible experience where you bring home a puppy that ends up having a lifetime of health issues because they were bred unethically.

Is a Teacup Maltese the Right Dog for Me?

Teacup Maltese are sweet little dogs that have all the lovely qualities of the standard, toy-sized Maltese, just in an even smaller package. They’re fantastic dogs, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect for everyone. Let’s see if the teacup Maltese is right for you.

A teacup Maltese may be right for you if…

  • You want a small dog
  • You want an affectionate dog
  • You need a dog that is good with other small pets
  • You have a small living space

A teacup Maltese may not be right for you if…

  • You don’t want a dog that requires regular grooming
  • You won’t brush their teeth every day
  • You have young children