Affectionate and athletic, the Maltese is a very popular choice for smaller, travel-friendly pets. Known for their silky white coats, bold personalities, and adorable size, these tiny dogs are an excellent pet for families, singles, and those with other pets, like cats. Maltese are extremely outgoing and people-oriented, but temperament may be affected by heredity, training, and socialization. Socialization, especially in the dog’s youth, will help ensure a Maltese grows up to be a well-rounded pet.
Size and Travel Options
The Maltese typically stands between 8-10 inches tall and can weigh up to 7 pounds – perfect for fitting into an airline-approved carrier and sliding under the seat in front of you. As such, only airlines that do not allow pets in the cabin will require your Maltese to fly as checked baggage or in cargo. When it comes to other forms of transportation – trains, busses, and cars – your Maltese should not have any trouble abiding by maximum size and weight restrictions.
If you plan to travel with these tiny friends, start your crate training as early as possible. Though very intelligent and easy to train, getting this essential step out of the way will make travel easier and less stressful for everyone involved. To this end, traveling with a Maltese should be a relatively peaceful experience. These dogs respond well to positive reinforcements, such as food rewards, praise, and play, meaning even a misbehaving Maltese can be assuaged with a treat or pat on the back. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic.
Personality as a Travel Companion
Maltese are excellent companion animals, and they often fare well in all types of travel. These dogs are very intelligent and easy to train, so crate and behavioral training should not be an issue for most parents. They do, however, tend to bark and howl when uncomfortable. If this happens while in transit, don’t panic. This breed responds well to positive reinforcement, so a simple treat or verbal affirmation should be enough to calm the dog. However, as with all breeds, assess your individual dog’s personality, trainability, and general temperament before booking a flight. Though Maltese generally make near-perfect travel companions, you should never assume your pup is ready to fly because of breed alone.
Health and Longevity
Due to their small size, Maltese tend to have few chronic and genetic health issues. They can live to be 12-18 years old, and most health conditions are genetic. Common among the breed is patellar luxation, also known as a dislocated knee. This happens when the knee joint slides in and out of place, causing pain. Though dogs with this condition lead relatively normal lives, it is important to ensure your Maltese can both sit and stand inside their carrier for maximum comfort. These dogs are also susceptible to hypoglycemia, or very low blood sugar. If you suspect your Maltese has this condition, characterized by weakness, confusion, and a wobbly gait, speak with your vet before boarding a plane.
Maltese Breeders and Adoption Centers
Because this is a popular breed in general, you can often find Maltese mixes at animal shelters. Yet, getting a Maltese puppy from a reputable breeder can help ensure you get a healthy puppy of the right size and temperament for your travel habits and adventurous spirit. While you can usually adopt or rescue a Maltese or mix breed for a few hundred dollars, getting a puppy from a quality breeder will more likely cost between $1,000-$4,000+.