Toy Poodle vs Maltese Terrier: Toy dog breed comparison

toy poodle vs maltese

Toy Poodles and Maltese are toy breeds of dogs that have been popular for centuries. For now, let’s talk about what you can expect from a Toy Poodle vs Maltese so you know which one is best for you!

As a whole, Toy Poodles and Maltese Terriers have many similarities and differences. The main similarity is they both belong to the Toy Dog Group and are hypoallergenic. The main difference is their intelligence which requires different training techniques.

Buying a dog is a major decision and we have a detailed guide comparing the Toy Poodle with the Maltese Terrier. Read on to find out about breed characteristics, how they are similar and different and which dog suits your needs.

Toy Poodle and Maltese Terrier Comparison Table

Data sourced from AKC Dog Breeds

Toy PoodleMaltese
Heightno more than 10 inches7 – 9 inches
Weight4-6 poundsunder 7 pounds
Life Span10-18 years12 – 15 years
Activity Levelactiveactive
Family Friendlyvery affectionatevery affectionate
Friendly Around Dogsaverageaverage
Coatcurly long hairsilky long hair
Coat Colorapricot, black, blue, cafe au lait, cream, gray, red, silver, silver beige, whitewhite
Groomingdaily brushingdaily brushing
Energy Levelhighaverage
Barking Levelabove averageaverage
Price(reputable breeder)average price $2500, the price can range from $500 to $5000USD$1500 – $2500

Toy Poodle Characteristics

There are 3 main types of Poodles recognized by The American Kennel Club (AKC), they are the Standard Poodle, Miniature Poodle, and the Toy Poodle.

In this guide, we will only be comparing the Maltese Terrier to the Toy Poodle. We have an extensive guide on the Poodle Breed if you require more information.

Toy Poodle History

Toy Poodles have been around for centuries, but they have only recently become popular in North America. The AKC recognized the Toy Poodle as a breed in 1887 and is 6th on the AKC Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020.

They were bred in Germany to hunt waterfowl and were even known as “the poor man’s horse” because their coats would repel water. This is one toy dog that doesn’t mind getting wet!

They have been amongst the most popular dogs in the US for many years.

Toy Poodle Physical Appearance

toy poodle intelligence

Toy Poodles are small in stature with a long body shape, they have an arched neck leading into muscular shoulders and a strong back.

Their legs are long and their feet small, which makes them very light on their feet so they can run faster. They have a straight tail that is set high and ears that hang close to the head.

The Toy Poodle has 11 different standard color variations including black, blue, cream, red and white.

They have a long and curly coat that requires almost daily brushing to prevent matting. Toy Poodles have hair that requires a visit to the groomer for cutting at least once a quarterly basis.

Having hair means they do not shed which makes them suitable as a hypoallergenic dog breed.

Toy Poodle Personality & Temperament

The Toy Poodle is a proud dog that loves to be the center of attention. They are extremely intelligent and can be best described as cheerful, alert, proud, playful, and mischievous. They are great make a great companion dog and are wonderful with children under supervision.

Toy Poodles are very playful, love to meet strangers, and are very adaptable to new situations. They have an above-average level as a watchdog/protective dog breed which may result in an above-average level of barking. Toy Poodles are very trainable and have high mental stimulation needs.

They may develop separation anxiety if left for long periods during the day. It would be worth looking at doggy daycare or investing in a dog walker if you are away for long periods of time. They are well suited to apartment life but they feel the cold and will need a sweater and warm blanket to lie on. You will need to pay them a lot of attention when you get home.

Toy Poodle Intelligence

Stanley Coran notes in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs” that Poodles rank 2/79 on the “ranking of Dogs for Obedience and Working Intelligence” list.

In the book, he talks about living with smart dogs and the importance of keeping their minds active. They require early and ongoing training throughout their lives.

It is important to control your emotions when training a Toy Poodle as they are very aware of your emotional state. If you direct anger towards a Toy Poodle they may react aggressively.

Another important step is to provide adequate mental stimulation. Toy Poodles love to go on outings with you, maybe to the shops or on errands. They love to discover new places and it helps to keep their mind mentally sharp.

Toy Poodle Health & Lifespan

Health concerns for Toy Poodles can be:

  • eye problems
  • seizures
  • patellar luxation
  • hip dysplasia
  • ear infections
  • teeth problems

Toy Poodles typically live between 12-15 years but toy dogs are often very healthy and can have a lifespan up to 20 years! Toy Poodles are prone to having bad teeth so it is very important to start a good dental routine with them from a young age. Teeth cleaning with dog toothpaste and dental chews will help keep their teeth in good condition.

Toy Poodle Grooming Requirements

The Toy Poodle is a very elegant animal and can be groomed into many different styles. As they have hair they will need to have it clipped and this will mean a trip to the groomer every 4-6 weeks in Summer and 6-8 weeks in Winter. Their hair growth slows down in Winter.

It is important for light-colored Toy Poodles to have their eye and mouth cleaned to prevent staining from tears and food. They also suffer from ear infections, so after a both or grooming session, it is important to make sure their ears are dry. You can talk to your groomer if they are susceptible to ear infections.

Maltese Terrier Characteristics

Maltese Terrier History

The Maltese Terrier is a toy-sized dog that was bred to be a companion and watchdog. The AKC recognized the Maltese Terrier as a breed in 1888 and is 38th on the AKC Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2020.

Despite its small size, the breed’s history dates back several centuries ago when it resided in Malta with sailors on boats as their companions during long voyages across the Mediterranean Sea.

The Maltese Terrier is believed to have been brought back by Crusaders who returned home with the breed from Malta.

Also known as ‘the ancient dog of Malta’, it was depicted in paintings, drawings, and etchings during this time period.

Maltese Terrier Physical Appearance

maltese shedding

Maltese Terriers are known for their long coats that grow to floor length. The hair is fine, silky, and can be straight or slightly wavy.

Their color ranges from pure white with lemon markings on the ears and tail to cream with a slight golden hue.

Maltese Terrier Personality & Temperament

A Maltese Terrier is a wonderful companion. These dogs make great family pets, they love people and are very affectionate. They also get along with other animals in the household if socialized as a puppy. They are not keen on strangers or children they don’t know well.

Maltese temperament can vary greatly depending on how much socialization they receive while growing up and even if they’re raised by different families. Socializing your dog early will help them become more comfortable in any situation, but it’s particularly important with Maltese.

They are generally very gentle and affectionate animals. They tend to get startled easily so they need lots of reassurance when meeting new people or experiencing new things.

Maltese Terriers are great dogs if you live in an apartment due to their small size and lower activity levels.

Maltese Terrier Intelligence

Stanley Coran notes in his book “The Intelligence of Dogs” that Maltese Terriers rank 59/79 on the “ranking of Dogs for Obedience and Working Intelligence” list. Coran considers a dog “not-so-smart” if it ranked 45 or lower in the ranking.

In the book, he talks about living with not-so-smart dogs and the importance of training them when they are young, ideally when you first bring the dog home or at the latest at 6 months of age. Whilst training a Maltese it is important to be consistent, direct, and keep the training sessions short. 

Training sessions need to be kept short and a play session before training may help a Maltese concentrate more.

Another important step is to be patient with a dog that is slower to learn. A Maltese will pick up on your frustration and stress about your response instead of focusing on the training.

Maltese Terrier Health & Lifespan

Maltese Terriers typically live between 12 and 14 years. Although there have been some cases of Maltese dying as young as nine, this is not the norm.

As with any breed, these dogs can develop certain health problems such as:

  • allergies
  • hip dysplasia
  • patellar luxation
  • cataracts
  • ear infections
  • teeth problems

This breed does not tolerate heat well so they should never be left outside in the sun for very long periods of time. All Toy Dog Breeds are susceptible to teeth problems and if you are interested in reading more we have an article “Why Do Small Dogs Have Bad Teeth”. It is important to start a good dental routine from when they are a puppy.

Maltese Terrier Grooming Requirements

The Maltese coat can be clipped short or left to grow long and flowing. Unless shaved the Maltese requires regular brushing to prevent matting in the hair which can be very painful. A short coat will require regular trips to the groomer every 4 -6 weeks in Summer and 6-8 weeks in Winter. You may prefer to leave the coat slightly longer in Winter to provide extra warmth.

Also, the face area of the Maltese will need daily attendance to prevent staining around the eyes and mouth. Maltese are prone to ear infections due to their fluffy ears, care must be taken after bathing to ensure the ears stay dry.

toy dog breeds

How are the Toy Poodle and Maltese Terrier Similar?

The Toy Poodle and Maltese Terrier are similar in quite a few ways.

They are both belong to the Toy Group of Dogs and are around the same weight and height. Both dogs are very affectionate and make wonderful companion dogs, they behave above average with other dogs both at home and in public.

The Toy Poodle and the Maltese Terrier has the same grooming requirements, daily brushing, and trip to the groomers to keep their coat clipped to your preference. They have hair and do not shed, they are both hypoallergenic and drool very little, if at all. 

Their faces also need to be kept clean, focussing on the mouth and eye area, to prevent staining. This is important is a light color Toy Poodle and the white Maltese.

Both dogs are fairly adaptable to changes in their living situations and daily routines.

How are the Toy Poodle and Maltese Terrier Different?

The Toy Poodle and the Maltese Terrier are different in many ways, much to my surprise.

The main difference is in their level of intelligence. According to Stanley Coran, the Toy Poodle is a smart dog ranking 6/79 and the Maltese Terrier is a not-so-smart dog, ranking 59/79. This leads to differences in training requirements and the Toy Poodle requires a lot of mental stimulation compared to the Maltese. As a more intelligent breed, the Toy Poodle will be more willing to look for trouble if they get bored while they are left alone.

Toy Poodles may have a slightly longer life span than the Maltese Terrier and the Toy Poodle has a much more playful nature so they have higher exercise needs than the Maltese. Toy Poodles are also more accepting of young children.

The colors of the Toy Poodle range from white with varying colors up to black with curly long hair. The Maltese is a white dog with long flowing hair, the Maltese hair can be left long and flowing or clipped short. 

Maltese Terriers are fearless and make good watchdogs, although Toy Poodles are known to bark more.

Who Should Get A Poodle?

If you are an owner that likes a dog who thinks they are a ‘person’ then a Toy Poodle is perfect for you. They are very intelligent dogs who require a lot of mental stimulation and physical activity as they are very active.

You need to be prepared to take your little Toy Poodle on outings with you in the car and on daily walks. They also like to discover new areas, so walks in different places will keep your Toy Poodle mentally happy. 

They are very affectionate dogs and get along well with strangers and young children and will be social out on walks. Anxiety could develop if they have a scare from a large dog when they are a puppy. It is important to socialize your toy poodle so they do not become oversensitive and anxious around other dogs.

A Toy Poodle is a great choice if you are looking for a dog that has a variety of colors. The Toy Poodle has a range of 11 colors available, including red and silver. 

Who Should Get A Maltese Terrier?

If you are looking for a very cute small white elegant dog then the Maltese Terrier might be right for you. Maltese are very affectionate dogs and would quite happily cuddle up on your lap.

A Maltese Terrier puppy will benefit greatly from a reward-based training class to learn commands early on. They can develop small dog syndrome, when a small dog is stubborn and willful,  if not corrected in unwanted behaviors.

You should be a person who is patient and consistent to get the best behavior out of your Maltese. Maltese make great guard dogs and have an average level of barking.

Maltese are content to be left alone for hours, so they make a great pet for working families. They have an average requirement for exercise, a walk after work would be great exercise. They also love agility training, as they are quite agile, so ball games at home would be fun for them.

Dogs love routine and predictability especially Maltese Terriers. So if you have a somewhat regular routine a Maltese will be very happy.

The Maltese would be happiest as an only dog where it can cuddle up on the couch with its owner.

Similar Toy Dog Breeds

There are a range of similar toy dog breeds that are worth checking out.

  • Maltipoo – a Maltese Poodle mix
  • Bichon Frise – we have a detailed review of the Bichon here
  • Shih Tzu – another Toy Dog Breed that is a wonderful companion and lap dog