How Long Do Maltese Live?

The Maltese Life Span

The Maltese, also known as the “dog of Malta,” is a small dog originally from the Island nation of Malta. But, the question would be, ‘how long do Maltese live?’

How Long do Maltese Live?

Nowadays, the Maltese is one of the most popular dog breeds globally. This toy breed has a life expectancy between 12 and 15 years, depending on their breeding line, general health, and care. So, if you have a 16-year-old Maltese, count yourself among the lucky people and cheer for the great work. 

white maltese dog

Maltese Health Problems and Causes of Death

Even though the Maltese dog life expectancy is anywhere from 12 to 15 years, many die young. The leading cause of death for the Maltese breed is trauma from accidents or car collisions. Other significant causes of death for Maltese are cancer, heart disease, kidney failure, and liver failure. Here are the causes in different ages:


The premature passing of a puppy (a dog under the age of 1 year old) was due to different reasons than those that passed from illness related to old age. For Maltese puppies, the leading causes of death are:

  • SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This includes the sudden and unexplained death of a Maltese puppy less than 1-year-old. Statistics show that up to 3% of puppies suffer from this syndrome, making it the leading cause of death for Maltese puppies under 12 weeks old.
  • The congenital disease includes heart diseases (especially pulmonic stenosis): neurological anomalies such as hydrocephalus and meningitis, and other congenital diseases that cause a puppy’s sudden death within one month of age.
  • Infection: This includes septicemia (blood poisoning), distemper, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, and other conditions that cause sudden death within one month of age.
  • Trauma: includes injuries or accidents due to the Maltese puppy’s small size and vulnerability. The leading causes of injury are being attacked by another dog, falling downstairs, getting kicked by a large animal like a horse, and strangling toy parts not meant for consumption.
  • Diseases include viral infections such as parvo and distemper bacterial diseases such as leptospirosis and bordet.

Adult Maltese Dogs

The premature passing of an older Maltese is due to different causes than those listed above. For Maltese adult dogs, their leading causes of death are:

  • Heart disease: This is the leading cause of death for all dogs in general and accounts for 40 to 50% of deaths in canines. For Maltese, this includes heart murmurs (especially pulmonic stenosis), congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and chronic valvular disease.
  • Cancer: This includes all types of tumors. In the case of the Maltese, this includes lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and numerous others.
  • Kidney failure: This is also a prevalent cause of death in small breed dogs in general because their kidneys cannot handle toxins. It is essential to understand that this is a slow and painful death for the dog.
  • Sudden Liver Failure: This is also known as acute hepatic necrosis and can be caused by many toxins such as onions, garlic, grapes and raisins, Tylenol (acetaminophen), and more.
  • Congenital Disease: Just as is the case with Maltese puppies, congenital diseases are a leading cause of death for older Maltese. This includes neurological anomalies such as ventricular septal defect, hydrocephalus, and meningitis.
  • Infection: This includes all types of infections, from bacterial to viral. For example, septicemia, infectious canine hepatitis, parvovirus, and coronavirus are all very dangerous diseases.
  • Old age: Unfortunately, this is the leading cause of death among older Maltese. This includes arthritis, kidney failures, tumors, heart disease, and many others. These dogs are amiable dogs with an average life expectancy of 12-15 years if properly cared for. By knowing how to care for your Maltese, you can expect to have a happy, healthy, longest-living Maltipoo.

How to Increase the Maltese Life Span

The Maltese life span is about 15 years. This means that the average life span of a Maltese is 7 to 10 years with proper care and attention. The following are ways to increase the Maltese life span:

Maintain Your Dog’s Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight for dogs is good for their overall health. An obese Maltese can have a shorter life span than a dog of the same breed at its healthy weight. In addition, an overweight dog would be more prone to arthritis, heart disease, and many other problems that shorten its life span.

So, as a dog owner, what does this mean? Well, first of all, if your Maltese dog is overweight, get it back on track by feeding it the proper amount of food based on its ideal weight. 

Second of all, keep your Maltese at a healthy weight throughout its life. This means that you should consider your dog’s lifestyle and adjust its diet so that it can stay slim while still being able to do what it needs to do.

Exercise Your Dog 

Dogs, just like humans, need to exercise to stay healthy. This is especially important if your dog’s lifestyle involves more sitting around than running around (for example, if it lives mainly indoors).

Physical activity can significantly improve the Maltese age because it helps them keep their weight in check, thus preventing many problems that may shorten their life span. So if your Maltese isn’t on the move much during its day, you should engage it in light to moderate exercise at least once a day.

White Maltese running

Choosing the Right Breeder

The first step to ensuring you are buying a healthy Maltese is to choose the right breeder. A good breeder will be concerned with producing healthy dogs, not just selling puppies.

A reputable breeder will take care of their breeding dogs and only breed them when they are healthy. The parents should have been cleared for specific genetic conditions. Ask to see the veterinary records for the parents.

A good breeder will also only breed when they are confident that their dogs have good genetics. This means screening all potential breeding dogs for conditions such as hip dysplasia, patella luxation, and any other disease which could be passed down to offspring. If a breeder tells you they do not test their dogs for such conditions, walk away.

Don’t Let Your Maltese Live Outside

This may seem self-evident, but many pet owners make this error. If your Maltese spends most of its time out in the cold, then there’s a chance that it will shorten the Maltese life span. This is because dogs are best kept indoors to be protected from the elements.

Exposure to extreme weather conditions can be deadly for dogs because of how cold or hot it may get outside. In addition, being exposed to these conditions can weaken their immune systems, making them more prone to diseases and infections, which will shorten their life span. 

So make sure that your Maltese spends most of its time indoors where you can keep an eye on it.

Keep Your Maltese Clean

Maintaining your dog’s hygiene is important because it eliminates some of the Maltese health issues. Diseases are more likely to develop if a pet is dirty, especially skin diseases since they can be easily contracted through skin contact with the outside environment.

So how do you maintain good hygiene for your Maltese? Well, first of all, brush your pet’s teeth regularly. This will reduce the risk of dental disease and help control bad breath. Second of all, check for any skin irritations or rashes that may affect your dog’s health. 

Lastly, bathe your Maltese with a high-quality shampoo at least twice a month. Make sure your Maltese gets enough sleep at night. During the day, most dogs are active and move around a lot. 

But once it’s nighttime, they become more lethargic and sluggish. They also start spending more time sleeping when they get their most restful sleep. This is why you should ensure that they get the proper amount of sleep during the night.

If your Maltese doesn’t get enough sleep, it simply won’t be healthy. Short nights can cause them to become overweight and at risk for diabetes. If you’re worried about their lack of sleep, try listening for any signs of restlessness or grogginess when they wake up.

Taking care of your Maltese is not just about feeding it, giving it water, and cleaning after it every day. 

It also requires that you look out for its overall health by helping it avoid serious diseases through vaccines and good hygiene practices. These are some of the things you need to do to ensure that your dog’s life span is as long as possible.

If you notice that your Maltese has symptoms of any disease, take it to the vet immediately. This will help your dog get the treatment they need, and this may prevent them from dying prematurely- which would be terrible since dogs are meant to live for around 12-15 years.

Maltese dog getting groomed

Why Do Small Dogs Live Longer?

Small dogs like the Maltese often live longer than larger breeds. It is not fully evident why this occurs, but several likely reasons are. For one thing, smaller dogs tend to weigh less and be less physically active throughout their lives than larger dogs.

Also, some breeds of dogs, such as large hunting dogs, may gain weight later in life because they are no longer performing strenuous physical tasks. As a result, they may get less exercise, linked with longevity.

Large dogs often meet an untimely end by being hit by cars or contracting some disease or ailment related to obesity. Smaller dogs are less likely to be killed in this way. However, it is also thought that smaller dogs age more quickly than large dogs, so their time with drooping ears and gray muzzles may be shortened even if their life span percentage is higher.

Studies focusing on breeds of dogs smaller than 20 lbs (9.07 kg) have found that, in general, they live approximately two to three years longer than the average dog. However, it is interesting to note that while small breed dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, very large breed dogs such as Great Danes tend to have a much lower life span than average.

Another possibility for this disparity is that small dogs are more likely to be treated with high doses of glucosamine. Glucosamine, a product sold in most pharmacies or health food stores, has been shown to positively affect the life expectancy of smaller dogs.

Smaller breeds may also have lower rates of cancer than larger breeds. For example, while Golden Retrievers and Beagles, both medium-sized breeds, tend to contract cancer at a young age (7-9 years of age), smaller breeds such as Maltese and Bichon Frise may live for 14 years or more without contracting the disease.

Possible Explanations:

  • Smaller breeds weigh less than larger breeds, so they get less exercise. As a result, their lives are possibly shortened because of the lack of activity.
  • Large hunting dogs may put on weight in their older age due to inactivity and not performing physical tasks. As a result, these large breed dogs (i.e., Labradors) may live shorter lives than the average. This is because they are more likely to get diseases related to obesity.
  • Smaller dogs age more quickly than larger breeds; small breeds’ shortened life spans make them appear to live longer on average, even though smaller breeds tend to die younger.
  • Many small dog breeds (i.e., Maltese, Bichon Frise) tend to live longer lives than larger breeds because they are less likely to be hit by cars and contract life-threatening illnesses such as cancer at a young age.


The Maltese dog life expectancy is 12-15 years on average, but this life span varies. For example, the life span of an individual dog may be shortened by factors such as poor nutrition and the inability to exercise regularly due to living conditions or disability. 

If your pet needs special care because it has one of these risk factors (e.g., older age), then you should plan accordingly with vet visits more often than once every year or two if necessary!

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