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Shih Tzu vs Maltese Dog

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When it comes to small, adorable, and affectionate dog breeds, the Shih Tzu and the Maltese often steal the spotlight. These two breeds share many similarities, but they also have distinct characteristics that make them unique. If you’re considering adding a small dog to your family, it’s essential to understand the differences and similarities between Shih Tzus and Maltese to make an informed decision. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into their history, appearance, temperament, care needs, and more, so you can determine which breed suits your lifestyle best.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese Comparison

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: History and Origins

The Shih Tzu and the Maltese have fascinating histories that provide insights into their origins and how they became beloved breeds today. The Shih Tzu, as mentioned earlier, originated in Tibet and has ancient ties to Chinese emperors. Bred as companion dogs, they were highly valued and often treated as royalty themselves.

Shih Tzu

Their lineage can be traced back thousands of years, and their presence in Chinese art and literature highlights their significance. Over time, Shih Tzus made their way to Europe and eventually gained popularity worldwide.

The Maltese, on the other hand, has a history that dates back even further. Originating in the Mediterranean region, specifically on the island of Malta, they have a long-standing association with nobility and aristocracy. Their small size, elegant appearance, and charming personality endeared them to the wealthy and elite. Maltese dogs were often depicted in ancient art, and their distinct white coat became a symbol of purity and luxury. Throughout history, they were treasured companions and traveled with their owners on various expeditions and adventures.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Appearance and Characteristics

When it comes to their physical appearance, the Shih Tzu and the Maltese have distinct features that set them apart. Shih Tzus have a sturdy build with a short muzzle and a slightly undershot bite. They have large, round, expressive eyes and a long, flowing double coat that comes in various colors, including gold, black, white, and combinations of these. Shih Tzus are known for their luxurious, silky hair that requires regular grooming to keep it in prime condition.

On the other hand, Maltese dogs have a small and elegant frame with a slightly rounded skull and a well-proportioned body. Their most distinguishing feature is their long, silky, and pure white coat, which is hypoallergenic and sheds minimally. They have dark, expressive eyes and a black button nose that stands out against their white fur. Despite their small size, both breeds exude an air of elegance and charm.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Temperament

Understanding the temperament of a dog breed is crucial when considering them as a potential pet. Both the Shih Tzu and the Maltese possess endearing qualities that make them popular choices among dog lovers.

Shih Tzus are known for their affectionate and outgoing nature. They thrive on human companionship and enjoy being the center of attention. Shih Tzus are typically friendly, gentle, and good with children, making them excellent family pets. They can be lively and playful, often exhibiting a sense of humor that brings joy to their owners. Shih Tzus are also known for their loyalty and bond closely with their human family members.

Similarly, Maltese dogs are affectionate and loving companions. They have a sweet and gentle disposition, making them well-suited for families, singles, and seniors alike.


Maltese dogs form strong bonds with their owners and are known for their loyalty and devotion. Despite their small size, they possess a bold and confident personality. Maltese dogs are generally friendly toward strangers and get along well with other pets, making them sociable additions to any household.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Health

When it comes to health, it’s important to note that no breed is entirely exempt from potential health issues. Both the Shih Tzu and the Maltese are generally healthy breeds, but there are certain conditions that they may be prone to.

Shih Tzus may be susceptible to respiratory problems due to their short muzzles, which can lead to snoring and snorting. They are also prone to eye conditions such as cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and corneal dryness. Additionally, Shih Tzus can experience allergies and skin sensitivities, requiring proper care and grooming to keep their skin healthy.

Maltese dogs, being a small breed, may be prone to dental problems. Regular dental care, including brushing their teeth, can help prevent issues such as gum disease and tooth loss. Maltese dogs can also be prone to patellar luxation (a knee condition) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which can lead to vision loss. Responsible breeding practices and regular check-ups with a veterinarian can help mitigate potential health concerns in both breeds.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Trainability

When it comes to trainability, both the Shih Tzu and the Maltese have unique characteristics that can influence their learning abilities. Shih Tzus are intelligent dogs but can be independent and stubborn at times. They have a moderate level of trainability and may require consistent and patient training methods.

Positive reinforcement techniques, such as rewards and praise, work well with them. Shih Tzus thrive on consistency and gentle guidance, so a firm yet gentle approach is essential to help them understand and follow commands. Starting training early and using short, engaging sessions can yield the best results with this breed.

On the other hand, Maltese dogs are generally eager to please and highly trainable. They are quick learners and respond well to positive reinforcement training methods. Maltese dogs are known for their intelligence and ability to pick up new commands and tricks relatively easily. They enjoy learning and participating in training sessions, making them a joy to train. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are key factors in successfully training a Maltese. Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for both breeds to ensure they grow into well-behaved and well-rounded dogs.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Adaptability

When it comes to adaptability, both the Shih Tzu and the Maltese are generally adaptable to various living situations. Shih Tzus are known for their adaptability to apartment living due to their small size and moderate exercise needs. They are relatively inactive indoors and can adapt well to living in smaller spaces, as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation. Shih Tzus are also adaptable to different family dynamics and can get along well with children and other pets when properly socialized.

Similarly, Maltese dogs are highly adaptable and can thrive in different living environments. They can adapt well to apartment living or living in a house with a yard, as long as they receive regular exercise and attention. Maltese dogs are generally good with children and can get along with other pets, although supervision and proper introductions are necessary. They are adaptable to various lifestyles, making them suitable companions for individuals, couples, or families.

Both breeds may require some time to adjust to changes in their environment or routine. They thrive on stability and a consistent schedule, so gradual introductions to new experiences or changes are recommended to ensure a smooth transition for both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs.

Shih Tzu vs Maltese: Nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for the overall health and well-being of both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs. While individual dietary needs may vary based on factors such as age, activity level, and health conditions, there are some general guidelines to consider.

Shih Tzus require a balanced diet that includes high-quality dog food formulated for their specific size and age. Due to their brachycephalic (short-faced) structure, it’s important to choose kibble that is easy for them to chew and swallow.

Shih Tzus are prone to dental issues, so incorporating dental hygiene practices and providing appropriate chew toys can help maintain their oral health. It’s important to monitor their weight to prevent obesity, as excess weight can exacerbate certain health problems common in the breed.

Maltese dogs also benefit from a well-balanced diet, tailored to their age, size, and activity level. High-quality commercial dog food that is appropriate for small breeds is typically recommended.

Due to their long lifespan, Maltese dogs may benefit from a diet that supports their joint health and contains essential nutrients for their coat, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Regular monitoring of their weight and portion control is important to prevent obesity, which can put a strain on their joints and overall health.

Video Credit – Shih Tzu Care

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Shih Tzus and Maltese good with children?

Both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs can be good with children when properly socialized and introduced at a young age. However, supervision is always recommended to ensure gentle interactions and prevent accidental harm to either the dog or the child.

Do Shih Tzus and Maltese shed a lot?

Shih Tzus and Maltese are both considered low-shedding breeds. However, it’s important to note that they have long, flowing coats that require regular grooming and brushing to prevent matting and tangles.

Do Shih Tzus and Maltese get along well with other pets?

With proper socialization, both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs can get along well with other pets. Early introductions and positive interactions are important to establish harmonious relationships between them and other animals in the household.

How much exercise do Shih Tzus and Maltese require?

Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs have moderate exercise needs. Daily walks, interactive play sessions, and mental stimulation activities are generally sufficient to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. However, individual exercise requirements may vary based on age, health, and energy levels.

Are Shih Tzus and Maltese easy to train?

Shih Tzus can be independent and stubborn at times, requiring consistent training and patience. Maltese dogs, on the other hand, are generally eager to please and highly trainable. Positive reinforcement methods and early socialization are beneficial for both breeds.

How long do Shih Tzus and Maltese live?

Shih Tzus have an average lifespan of around 10 to 16 years, while Maltese dogs have a slightly longer average lifespan of approximately 12 to 15 years. Providing proper care, nutrition, and regular veterinary check-ups can contribute to their overall health and longevity.

Do Shih Tzus and Maltese bark a lot?

Both Shih Tzus and Maltese dogs can be prone to barking. Early training and socialization can help minimize excessive barking tendencies. It’s important to provide them with mental stimulation and attention to prevent boredom-induced barking.

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Post Author

  • Hey pet lovers ! I am Deepali H passionate pet lover and writer who enjoys sharing tips, facts and information about Pets .With 3 years of experience in the pet industry, I have a wealth of knowledge to offer readers. I hope you will like my articles. Thank you !

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