Maltese Dog and Puppy Facts (Faqs)


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My three month old male Maltese puppy is missing some of his eye pigment around one of his eyes.

2. My Maltese puppy wants to be with me all of the time.   Is this normal?
3. My Maltese puppy has a lump/bald spot where he recently received his this normal?
4. My Maltese puppy is 9 months old and I am starting to have a very hard time keeping the coat tangle free.  Can I cut his coat or does it have to stay long?
5. Do Maltese dogs get along with other animals?
6. There is hair in my Maltese puppies ears....should I pluck it out or should I leave it?  If I pluck it out, does it hurt my dog?
7. Should I be brushing my Maltese dogs teeth?
8. Is there any way to control or keep the tear stains to a minimum on a pet Maltese?
9. What is Hypoglycemia?
10. What is "Luxating Patella's"?
11. I found a wonderful Maltese breeder that I am hoping to get my puppy from but she wants to send the puppy home at 8 weeks this OK?
12. Do Maltese dogs come in white only?
13. Are lawn care products really safe for my Maltese dogs?
14. My Maltese dog looks greasy all the time...what do I do?
15. Should my Maltese dog be vaccinated every year?
16. What is "reverse sneezing"?
17. Are two Maltese dogs better than one?
18. Are Maltese dogs/puppies good travelers?
19. How often do Maltese dogs/puppies need to be groomed?
20. How big will my Maltese puppy get if he was 2 1/2 pounds at 12 weeks old?
21. Why are Maltese puppies so expensive?
22. There is some lemon/light tan coloring on my Maltese he a purebred?
23. My Maltese has blue eyes.....I was told he was very rare.  Is this true?
24. Do Maltese dogs come in different sizes like poodles?
25. What genetic diseases are Maltese dogs prone to?
26. There are so many Maltese breeders on the do I find one that is reputable?
27. My Maltese dog is getting a lot of dark spots on his skin.  Is this something to worry about?



My three month old male Maltese is missing some of his eye pigment around one of his eyes.  My vet said that I have to be careful about skin cancer. I am so frightened...what do I do?
Lack of pigment whether it be around the eyes (halos), the eye rims, on the nose or lips, or the pads of the puppies feet are all caused from the genetic make-up of your puppy.   This is nothing to be concerned about other than possibly being in the sun a bit to long and getting a sunburn.  Lack of pigment or pigment coming in slowly is not a health issue.  Lack of pigment in any one of those areas means that somewhere in that dogs genetic make-up there was probably a dog who possessed that problem.  This can happen sometimes in the most well bred Maltese.



My puppy wants to be with me all of the time.  He follows me everywhere and if I have been gone he greets me as if I have been gone this normal?

Maltese dogs are, in my opinion, companion animals in the truest sense of the word.  They do not like to be alone and do not thrive under those conditions.  They want to be with their person whether they are traveling around the world or just taking a bathroom brake.  In other words, it is very normal for your Maltese dog/puppy to want to be with you 24/7.



My puppy has a lump/bald spot where is recently received his this normal?
This type of reaction is very normal for Maltese dogs and puppies after getting vaccinated.  But it is always better to be safe than sorry, so if it would ease your mind, it would not hurt to have a vet check the area.




My Maltese is 9 months old and I am starting to have a very hard time keeping the coat tangle free.  Can I cut his coat or does it have to stay long?
This is totally up to your preferences.  If you want to keep your dog in a "puppy cut" or a poodle disguise".....go for it!

I personally feel, if the dog is not being shown in the show ring, that keeping them in a much shorter cut is easier on the owner and the dog.  It all boils down to personal preferences.



Do Maltese get along with other animals?
Maltese for the most part, love other animals in their household.  Remember....Maltese are companion animals

Care must always be taken to make sure that your Maltese is safe around other animals though, because the other animals may not be as friendly.



There is hair in my puppies ears....should I pluck it out or should I leave it?  If I pluck it out, does it hurt my dog?
Maltese are "drop eared dogs" and can get moisture in their ears which can cause yeast infections and other problems.  Monthly or bi-weekly ear maintenance which includes pulling the ear hair can help to eliminate these type of problems.

There are several products on the market that not only help with keeping the ears dry but can also help with pulling the hair.  When done correctly there should be no pain to the dog.



Should I be brushing my dogs teeth?
Good dental hygiene is important whether it be human or dogs.  Be sure to use a toothpaste that is made for dogs. Plaque build-up and bad teeth seem to go hand in hand in many of the toy breeds, which can lead to more serious health problems, so the better the dental care, the better off the dog is.

There was a study done some time ago about why toy breeds had more plaque build-up as opposed to larger breeds of dogs, it was suggested that the lack of chewing seemed to create the problem of more plaque build-up.  More chewing created more saliva which in turn lessoned the plaque build-up. 



Is there any way to control or keep the tear stains to a minimum on a pet Maltese?
The answer is yes.  First you need to have your dogs eyes checked to make sure there are no medical problems creating the tearstain.  If there are no problems a simple daily maintenance of washing your dogs face with a warm washcloth should do the trick.  Diligence and consistency are the key as long as there are no medical problems.

There is also an article written by Tonia Holibaugh, handler to some of the top Maltese in the country and breeder with her own highly recognized and respected breeding program, concerning Tearstain which is called "Factors to Eliminate Tear Stain" which would be worth your while to read.



What is Hypoglycemia?
Hypoglycemia is most often seen in puppies of toy and small breeds and is caused by low blood sugar often brought on by stress situations such as visits to the vets or over exercise. Some of the symptoms may include weakness, confusion, wobbly gait and seizure-like episodes. They can often be avoided by feeding a susceptible dog frequent small meals. During an episode sometimes a water and glucose solution such as Nutri-Cal will help, though in severe cases intravenous glucose may be necessary. This can become life threatening if not taken care of immediately.

I always give a tube of Nutri-cal, a vitamin with sugar supplement, in every puppy packet when I a place a pet puppy with a new owner.



What is "Luxating Patella's"?
The patella (kneecap) is a part of the stifle joint (knee).  In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position.

Medial patellar luxation is generally classified by grade, from 1 to 4. Grade 1 luxations usually do not cause lameness or cause very minor signs of lameness but can be found on physical exam because the patella is fairly easy to push out of the groove it normally runs in. Grade 2 luxations are slightly more severe and cause the dog to occasionally carry one hind leg in a motion often described as "skipping". Grade 3 luxations cause prolonged carrying of the affected leg or obvious lameness and the patella is usually luxated. Grade 4 luxations usually involve visible deformity of the leg and severe lameness and the patella is permanently luxated.

This is one of the main reasons why small dogs should not be allowed to jump on and off of furniture and run the stairs at will.



I found a wonderful Maltese breeder that I am hoping to get my puppy from but she wants to send the puppy home at 8 weeks this OK?
Absolutely not!!  In the United States, the general rule of thumb is that Maltese puppies should be a minimum of 12 weeks old before going to their new homes.  Please see  Why does a Maltese puppy need to be 12 weeks old before going to a new home??



Do Maltese come in white only?
A purebred Maltese is "always" white.  There may be some lemoning/light tan on the ears although it is not desirable is acceptable.  Please also remember that there are 253 shades of white and all are acceptable.  Some think that you need the lemoning/tan for better pigment.

You can also read Maltese Breed History which does hit upon the issue of colored Maltese.



Are lawn care products really safe for my Maltese?
Unequivocally NO!  Although many products say they are safe after a few hours, if you have a Maltese that sometimes grazes on the grass, it can cause severe problems and even death.  This we personally learned the hard way.  Luckily our boy did not die.



My dog looks greasy all the time...what do I do?
First you need to take your Maltese to the vet to make sure that he has no skin problems such as mites, etc.  If his skin is healthy and clean then most likely your dog/puppy has a very fine silk coat.  This type of coat is very correct but very hard to take care of due to the fragileness of the hair plus it breaks easily and is a very hard coat to grow out.  Although beautiful and correct I normally do not keep this type of coat in my house for showing or breeding.  To keep a coat like this from looking greasy you may have to give your dog a bath as often as every two or three days.



Should my dog be vaccinated every year?
I am not going to say yes or no on this one as it is a very hard question to answer.  There is a lot of controversy going on about this particular subject and the more informed you are the better you will be able to make a decision that is correct for you and your dog.

Below are some links that may help you to make the correct decision for you and your dog.

Vaccination Protocol
New Vaccination Protocol Announced
Colorado State University's Small Animal Vaccination Protocol

The Vaccine Controversy

Ronald D Schultz, Ph.D.
Professor and Chairman
Department of Pathobiological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin

Annual Vaccination
A practice that was started many years ago and that lacks scientific validity or verification is annual revaccinations. Almost without exception there is no immunologic requirement for annual revaccination. Immunity to viruses persists for years or for the life of the animal. Successful vaccination to most bacterial pathogens produces an immunologic memory that remains for years, allowing an
animal to develop a protective anamnestic (secondary) response when exposed to virulent organisms. Only the immune response to toxins requires boosters (eg: tetanus in humans), and no toxin vaccines are currently used for dogs or cats. Furthermore, revaccination with most viral vaccines fails to stimulate an anamnestic (secondary) response as a result of interference by existing antibody (similar to maternal antibody interference). The
practice of annual vaccination in our opinion should be considered of questionable efficacy unless it is used as a mechanism to provide an annual physical examination or is required by law (ie: rabies vaccinations in some states).

Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, Ph.D., D.V.M.

For those of you not familiar with Dr. Schultz I should mention that he is recognized as a pioneer in clinical immunology and vaccinology. As Professor and Chair of Department of Pathobiological Sciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison his work is well known in both the allopathic and holistic veterinarian communities.



What is "reverse sneezing"?
Dogs have a condition we call a 'reverse sneeze.' It gets its name because the dog rapidly pulls air into his nose, whereas in a 'regular' sneeze, the air is rapidly pushed out through the nose.

If you witness a dog having a reverse sneeze it may seem alarming, but it is not a harmful condition, and there are no ill effects. The dog is completely normal before and after the episode. During a reverse sneeze, the dog will make rapid and long inspirations, stand still, and extend his head. A loud snorting sound is produced, which may make you think the dog has something caught in his nose.

A reverse sneezing episode can last for several seconds to a minute.

The cause of a reverse sneeze is unknown.

Holly Frisby, DVM, MS
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.



Are two Maltese better than one?
Since Maltese are companions animals, I personally think the more the merrier. 

Seriously, due to the fact that Maltese are such sociable animals they enjoy the company of other animals whether they be other Maltese, cats, or other breeds of dogs.  Care and thought do need to be taken when looking for another breed to add to your canine family due to the small size and big attitude of the Maltese.



Are Maltese good travelers?
My Maltese travel everywhere with me from going to the dog shows to going to the bathroom with me........they feel neglected if they are not where I am....LOL



How often do Maltese need to be groomed?
If you are trying to keep your Maltese in a full coat (long), then daily brushing is an absolute must.  If you are keeping your dog in a Poodle disguise, such as I do, then the maintenance is a bit less with daily face cleaning  and a quick brush through of the pants (legs), ears, and tail.    A puppy cut will require a bit more maintenance than a poodle disguise due to the body hair being longer.

A weekly bath will keep your Maltese smelling fresh and clean no matter what length of hair he has.



How big will my Maltese puppy get if he was 2 1/2 pounds at 12 weeks old?
Under normal circumstances and if your dog came from a reputable breeder, then your puppy should be around 5 1/2 pounds full grown.  Please remember though that these weights are only a good estimate.  Dogs can get "fat" just like some humans do and that weight cannot be taken into account just as a 200 pound 5 foot person is considered heavy, whereas a 200 pound 6 foot tall person is at their correct weight or sometimes even thin depending on their body structure.



Why are Maltese so expensive?

A very famous Maltese breeder wrote the following explanation as to why Maltese are so expensive.  Although it was written several years ago the reasoning is still valid.

Maltese & Outrageous Prices
by Larry Stanberry

The Maltese IS a highly desired and sought after breed for the very best of reasons - they are quite attractive, have a charming demeanor, are simply devoted to their companions whether they are human, canine, or even feline, live a long time, have been bred for perhaps eight thousand years so you might expect that genetically most of the "kinks" have been worked out making it difficult for even the "exploitive" and "uneducated" breeders to produce a "bad" dog.

When one might consider that a truly devoted fancier, when deciding to produce a litter of pups (which, trust me, has much less to do with the biological capability of their bitch to get pregnant at any point in time than it does on other factors such as the availability of the "proper stud dog"), other factors in the breeders life such as planned vacations or expected company from out-of-town, a heavy work load at the office, or any other complications which may coincide with the "due date" and the days immediately following. No, any breeder will plan astutely, find and put the owner of the stud on notice, fly or drive the bitch to the stud for a series of "encounters" that may take up to a week. Spending $200 to fly her or perhaps less to drive her and then (perhaps much more $$$) to stay in a local motel for a few days. Next, depending on your expertise and knowledge you may want to have your vet x-ray ($35-50) the "mom" at or after 58 days or so to discover position and number of pups to expect, a progesterone test ($20-30) may become a necessity at some point if things appear not to be progressing normally, a $200-$300 C-Section is not unusual, you've already paid a $300-700 stud fee or offered one or more pups back out of a litter that will probably only produce 2-3 pups if everything goes smoothly. Even using "low" numbers from these expenses can produce a litter of two pups (for the breeder) that cost easily $1000 - $2000. Even when I use my own stud dog, you must understand that we can't use him more than two or three times a year on our own girls and only offer him at stud to "approved" prospective moms. My investment in my own male is often in excess of $3000 by the time you factor in a hefty purchase price to acquire a truly exceptional dog from a well-bred background and then invest the required sum to "finish" him in the conformation show ring. Even if I breed him in-house three times a year ( which is a lot more than we do ) for eight years that is 24 breedings that "cost" me $125 each not including the costs to feed, shelter, groom, vaccinate, and provide for his veterinary care - after all he isn't on my health insurance plan with my children and the vets are not cheap.

Then you must factor in the occasional disaster - where you invest a fortune, have a C-Section, and lose the entire litter. This scenario comes along just often enough to offset those litters where the "mom" free-whelps you a four or five puppy litter.

Still, anytime you try to quantify the dog breeding game on a "dollar" basis you will invariably go "in the red". Still, we all must have a hobby to truly emmerse ourselves into and the fact that no matter how much I sell a particular puppy or litter for, I always reach deeper into my pocket every passing month to continually invest into our breeding program.

No, the Maltese is not a "cheap" pet. Properly bred and reared and judiciously priced, the pet purchased from a reputable and responsible breeder, even if it cost $1000 is worth every penny. You will spend the same on basic care to any pet (of comparative size) and if the Maltese lives only ten years he has cost you $100 a year based on his purchase price. You can buy a $300 dog out of the newspaper and then immediately spend $300 per leg to correct a slipping stifle joint - you just spent the same $1000 but had to go through an awful lot of trauma and hard feelings.

Please consult a reputable "show breeder" for your pet, their pets are every bit as competitively priced as the pet stores and you don't end up with a dog that was produced strictly on the basis of its mom being able to produce two six puppy litters every year. Instead you get a dog that is a progressive step in someone's breeding program, a program that is designed to produce better dogs in EVERY successive generation.

Good luck and good hunting. The American Maltese Association is a great place to start your search. All Maltese pups are cute - don't even take your checkbook with you on your initial trip. See at least two or three kennels if possible and don't let anyone pressure you into an uncomfortable purchase decision.

Purchasing a pet "long distance" can be done but it is even easier to "get taken" since you will pay for the animal to fly or be delivered to you and then must absorb the cost to send it home if it is not what you are looking for. However, if you ask the right questions and do your homework you can find exactly what you are looking for even "long distance".



There is some lemon/light tan coloring on my he a purebred?
Just because your dog has some lemon/tan does not mean your dog is not a purebred Maltese although any other colors would definitely be a sign that your dog was not a purebred Maltese.  Some breeders actually feel that we need the lemoning/tan for better pigment.

Many times puppies will have definite lemon color  but in many cases the lemoning has lightened up considerably or is totally gone by the time the dog is 1 to 2 years old.



My Maltese has blue eyes.....I was told he was very rare.  Is this true?
A blue eyed Maltese is not "rare".  Blue eyes are a fault according to the Maltese standard and should not be kept for breeding or to be shown, but the fact that a Maltese has blue eyes does not hinder it's ability to be a wonderful pet.



Do Maltese come in different sizes like poodles?
No.....there is only one type of Maltese.  There are not distinctions such as toy, teacup, mini, micro-mini, etc.  A Maltese is a Maltese.  For more information you may want to read The Myth About Teacup Maltese



What genetic diseases are Maltese prone to and what are some of the most common medical problems that Maltese have?
Below is a list of diseases and problems that the Maltese dog can commonly have or be predisposed for.  However, please keep in mind that overall the Maltese breed is a fairly healthy breed but that there can be factors such as poor and unethical breeding that can become a huge factor in the health of a particular Maltese dog.   
Aberrant cilia: eyelashes growing abnormally, such as rubbing against the eyeball
Anal Glands: these are two glands found on either side of the anus under the tail also known as "scent glands" which is why you often see two dogs sniffing in that location when they meet, as it is manner of identification. These two glands will normally express a brown, smelly liquid on their own during defecation. They can also be expressed by muscular contraction when the dog is frightened or excited. Sometimes the glands are not naturally expressed and become full or cause irritation which will cause a dog to "scoot" along the ground. An owner, groomer or veterinarian can express these glands manually when required. In some cases the glands become impacted and infected which will require manually expressing the glands, sometimes under anesthetic and then treatment with an antibiotic.
Auto-immune (mediated) diseases: under ordinary circumstances the body's immune system recognizes an invading infectious disease and sends cells to attack this disease. In the case of an auto-immune disease the body's signals become crossed and the immune system inadvertently starts to attack the body's own tissues and organs. There is much discussion about the causes of auto-immune diseases, in some cases there are genetic predispositions for auto-immune diseases, however there are indications that over-vaccination, drugs, diet may also have some role in these diseases. There are many diseases which may be considered auto-immune in nature, ranging from certain skin conditions, to diseases that attack specific organs like hypothyroidism and addisons or system wide problems such as lupus and AIHA (autoimmune hemolytic anemia).

Blindness: an inability to see due to a large variety of causes.
Cherry Eye: is a prolapsed gland of the third eye characterized by a bulge of the gland in the inner corner of the eye which is often very red in color hence the name "cherry eye". Often requires surgical intervention to correct the condition.
Collapsed trachea: a condition where the cartilage rings that make up the trachea are malformed and tend to collapse easily.
Colitis: is caused by inflammation of the colon. There are many reasons for colitis including stress factors (boarding, thunderstorms, moving, etc.), parasites, digesting something that doesn't agree or may be secondary to another condition. One of the main symptoms of colitis is diarrhea which may have the following characteristics: fresh blood, slime or mucus in the stools, not associated with weight loss, involves a stool that starts normal and finishes loose. Colitis often lasts for a short period of time but if chronic or episodic the actual cause should be looked for and treated by medication and/or change in diets.

Cryptorchidism: a condition where one testicle does not descend into the scrotal sac.

Deafness: an inability to hear, due to many different causes.

Distichiasis: abnormally growing eyelashes.

Epiphora:  abnormal draining of tears often due to overproduction.

Fontanel (open): some dogs, particularly toy or brachycephalic breeds, may be born with an open fontanel or soft spot on the top of the skull where the skull plates join. As the puppy grows this spot generally disappears as the skull develops and the plates join and fuse. In most cases this soft spot closes usually by 3 or 4 months of age. Occasionally they never close completely but are not a problem unless secondary to another condition called hydrocephalus or "water on the brain". In the case of this condition other symptoms such as seizures, vision and eye tracking problems, extreme domed head, restlessness and unthriftiness are also present.

Glaucoma: abnormally high pressure in the eye. 

Hepatic portosystemic shunt or arteriovenous fistula: a malformation of blood vessels in the liver or an abnormal communication between the arteries and veins in the liver. 

Hip dysplasia: a developmental malformation or subluxation of the hip joints.

Hypoglycemia: a syndrome where the animal has an abnormally low blood glucose. 

Hypothyroidism: is a condition where there is a deficiency of thyroid hormone. It may have several causes such an immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, natural atrophy of the gland, a deficiency in the diet, etc. The symptoms of this condition may be varied from dog to dog and can include skin conditions, dry, brittle coats, lethargy, obesity, temperament problems and infertility. Testing for this condition usually involves a blood test to measure levels of T3, T4 and TSH. Treatment for this condition is relatively simple requiring daily oral administration of replacement hormone for the life of the dog.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease: relates to a chronic irritation of the stomach or intestines. If the irritation is in the stomach then chronic vomiting often occurs, if in the intestines then accompanied by chronic diarrhea. With some dogs both stomach and intestines would be involved so may have both vomiting and diarrhea. Generally seen in middle aged to older dogs, it may be an immune related condition, though bacterias such as Helicobacter may be involved. To diagnose the condition a biopsy is generally required. Treatments may involve diet changes and steroid use.

Inquinial Hernias: a protrusion of soft tissue, possibly fat or abdominal organs through the inquinial ring found in the groin region. They can be on one side or both. They may be congenital or acquired. In the congenital form they are usually seen before 12 weeks of age and may be self-correcting but can require surgical repair. If aquired it may occur in middle age, usually in unspayed bitches. This condition should be checked by a vet. This is an inherited condition and an affected animal should not be bred.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (Dry Eye): is a condition where there is insufficient tear production which can result in dryness to the corneal surface. Tear production is needed to keep the aqueous surfaces of the eye moist and without proper tear production damage can occur leading to permanent damage including blindness from secondary causes. Most likely auto-immune.
Liver Shunt (Portosystemic): a portosystemic shunt is a blood vessel present in fetal animals which bypass the liver carrying blood directly from organs such as the stomach and pancreas to the heart. Upon birth the shunt closes down allowing the liver to take over filtering, storage and production functions. In some cases the shunt does not close down properly and the liver is unable to grow or function properly. Symptoms are generally seen at a young age and may include poor growth, excessive drinking and urinating, vomiting, diarrhea, behavioral problems such as seizures, circling, staggering, unresponsiveness and depression. Quite often the signs are seen several hours after being fed. In some dogs the condition may be acquired and clinical signs would be seen later in life. In less severe cases treatment may involve low protein diets and drugs but generally surgery to close the shunt is required.

Lymphocytic thyroiditis: an autoimmune disease causing inflammation and destruction of the thyroid gland, which becomes infiltrated with lymphocytes (white blood cells) and leads to hypothyroidism. This is the most comon endocrine disease of the dog and has an inherited predisposition.  
Pancreatitis: an inflammation of the pancreas causing the digestive enzymes to become active while still in the pancreas which may cause acute (rapid in onset) or chronic (develops over a period of time) pancreatitis. The exact cause is unknown but may include an incorrect diet, tumors, injuries, other conditions such as Cushings or diabetes, or drug complications. Some of the symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain (tucked up posture) and lethargy or depression. There is no long term cure for this condition but treatment is to allow resting of the pancreas to reduce inflammation and prevent secondary complications such as dehydration or bacterial infections. Often pain medications are required as this condition is extremely painful during an onset. Long term management includes low fat diets and weight loss in obese dogs.

Patella Luxation: may also be called "slipped stifles" and describes the dislocation of the stifle (knee cap). It is seen when the trochlea groove on the femur is shallower than normal and so the tibia and femur are not correctly aligned allowing the patella to slip. The degrees of patella luxation have been graded some from a Grade 1 where the examiner can luxate the joint manually to a Grade IV where the patella cannot be manually returned to a normal position. Symptoms may include occasional lameness in the rear, a hopping or skipping action to dragging the rear leg in severe cases. Surgical repair is possible.
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA): occurs when a special blood vessel, used to bypass the pup's lungs in the womb, fails to seal after birth. This compromises the circulation of blood through the heart. PDA is the most commonly diagnosed congenital heart defect in dogs. It occurs in many breeds and is seen more often in females.

Periodontal Disease: Dogs are susceptible to periodontal diseases, malocclusion, root decay and trauma like their human companions. Periodontal diseases results from an accumulation of bacterial plaque and the dog's immune response.  This immune response (inflammatory reaction) of the gums is referred to as gingivitis  .... gingivitis can progress to periodontitis (infection in the supporting structures).  Periodontitis results in destruction of tissue around the teeth and can lead to kidney, liver. heart and joint disease if the bacteria is released in the bloodstream.  Periodontal diseases can cause pain, which can be reflected in malnutrition.

Progressive retinal atrophy: a disease where the retina slowly deteriorates, producing night blindness.  
Retinal Dysplasia: the retina is the neurological structure in the back of the eye which receives light (images) and converts it to an electrical signal which transmits it to the brain for interpretation. Retinal Dysplasia is a defective development of retina where the 2 primitive layers of the retina do not fit together properly. There are 3 degrees of retinal dysplasia, folds (mild dysplasia) where there are folds in the inner retinal layer, geographic where there are larger areas of defective retinal development and detachment (severe dysplasia) where the retinal layers do not come together at all. Retinal dysplasia is a congenital defect (a dog is born with it) and does not progress as the dog ages.
Umbilical Hernia: often seen as a lump or mound of fat found on a dog's belly. This is where the umbilical cord was attached through the abdominal wall to the placenta allowing for the fetus to receive nutrition and blood from the mother. After birth this area generally closes up. In some cases the area may be slow in closing or not close at all. In the case of those that do not close properly surgical repair may be required. However generally what is seen is a little fat left on the outside of the abdominal wall and rarely requires surgery. Often breeders will recommend gently massaging the fat through the opening while the puppy is growing and the hole is closing.
von Willebrand's disease: a type of bleeding disorder caused by defective blood platelet function. Occurs in 59 dog breeds but most often in Doberman pinschers. An autosomal trait affecting both sexes.
White dog shaker syndrome: a disorder mainly of white dogs having muscular tremors over entire body, incoordination and rapid eye movements. Episodes occur with stress or excitement.





There are so many Maltese breeders on the do I find one that is reputable?
This is a hard question to answer.  Please look at How To Look For And Find A Reputably Bred Maltese In The United States and hopefully that page will help you to find your puppy.



My Maltese is getting a lot of dark spots on his skin.  Is this something to worry about?
The dark skin is just pigment.  A lot of times the pigment will become much darker/more noticeable in the summer time due to being out in the sun.



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