Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Malchi is a hybrid dog, the result of crossing a Maltese Terrier with a Chihuahua. They are also known as the Malachi or Maltechi. The resulting dog is small in stature with an outsized personality and a loud bark. These dogs may look like teddy bears, but can be fiercer than their looks suggest and intolerant of children.

The Malchi’s coat may be short or long, depending on which parent they take after. They are most commonly either white (taking after the Maltese Terrier) or a pale caramel colour. They have a loud bark and aren’t afraid to use their voice. This can make them a poor choice of dog in an apartment, since they’ll quickly become unpopular with the neighbours.

So, who is the ideal Malchi owner? They are a lap dog and don’t need huge amounts of exercise. Therefore, they do make great canine companions for the housebound or seniors with plenty of love to give.

About & History

The Malchi hybrid is a relative newcomer on the scene, and the result of deliberate matings between disparate dog breeders. Therefore, there isn’t much history to report. However, both parent breeds have long histories.

The Chihuahua

The Chihuahua has roots going back to the 9th century, and a strong link with Mexico, although their exact origins are not clear. What’s beyond dispute is the feisty character of this small dog. Reputedly these small, bold dogs were ‘spirit guides’ for the souls of the recently dead, prepared to protect and guard their souls on their journey to the afterlife. The name for the breed, the ‘Chihuahua’ arises from the State of the same name, where American tourists first encountered the breed in the 19th century.

The Maltese

In contrast, the Maltese is a calm individual, once held to having healing powers. As the name suggests, they originated from the island of Malta. The ancient Romans and Greeks were particularly partial to the Maltese Terrier and there was a booming trade in supplying these dogs to the wealthy as companions.

The long white coat of the Maltese, and their calm nature, made them hugely popular, as we can see from painting depicting Maltese Terriers cradled in their mistresses’ arms.


The Malchi tops the scales weighing less than six bags of sugar when fully grown. Their exact appearance varies tremendously, depending on which side of the family tree they take after. If they inherit from the Maltese side, they will have a long flowing coat, whilst if the Chihuahua parent dominates, they may have a shorter, caramel coloured coat. Again, the coat length may vary, depending on whether the Chi parent was long or short-coated.

An interesting quirk is the Malchi’s ears. These have the potential to take after the Chihuahua’s upright prick ear or the Maltese’s cute flapped ear. One thing is for sure, the result is going to be adorable.

Character & Temperament

Did we mention that the Malchi’s appearance varies depending on which parent they take after? Well, the same can be said for their personality. Whilst the Maltese terrier is a gentle, playful soul, the Chihuahua is altogether more independent and opinionated. Therefore the Malchi’s temperament has the potential to span a wide range of characteristics.

However, as a rule of thumb, their character is described as playful but protective. They can be sensitive and will bark at rustling leaves. They are apt to defend their patch fiercely, including their toys, food, or the sofa. This has unfortunately earnt them a reputation for being snappy, which is why proper socialisation as a pup and ongoing training is important.

Another aspect is the Malchi’s lack of tolerance of children. The dog’s small size makes them vulnerable to injury from over-robust handling, and they won’t hesitate to stand up for themselves should they feel threatened. Sadly, they aren’t a great match for young families and should be supervised at all times around children.


This little dog is hard work when it comes to training, but it’s important to persist. Imagine the much-bigger-dog trapped inside their small body, and train them with the same dedication you would a Rottweiler. Resist the temptation to skip training sessions in favour of scooping the dog up to get them out of trouble. Down this path lies so-called “Small dog syndrome”, where the little guy acts like a boss, which make simple things a trial, such as having visitors call round.


One of the misconceptions about hybrid dogs is that they are healthier than the purebred parents. The idea is that broadening the gene pool helps to dilute out genes coding for certain inherited diseases. Sadly, this is not the always the case.

The laws of genetics mean that some unfortunate pups may inherit double trouble, rather than dodge a bullet. Whilst there are no statistics showing those conditions that are specific to the Malchi, it’s reasonable to extrapolate those conditions common in the parent breeds to the Malchi.

Shaker Dog Syndrome

Also known as White Dog Shaker Syndrome, this condition does what it says on the tin. It most commonly affects small dogs, especially white ones, and causes marked uncontrollable tremors.

It’s thought this condition is caused by mild inflammation in the brain, possibly as a result of the immune system attacking the dog’s nervous system. Mild cases don’t need treatment, but the worst affected dogs may need to take drugs, such as steroids, that suppress the immune system.


Cryptorchidism refers to male pups that have retained testicles. Normal testicles should descent into the scrotum, which is cooler than the rest of the body. Retained testicles may be found in the groin or the abdomen. Unfortunately, this means they are exposed to warmer temperatures that predispose testicular tissue to cancerous change.

If the testicles have not descended into the scrotum by 6 to 9 months of age, then surgical removal is advisable.


Hydrocephalus refers to a build-up of fluid within the brain, and affected pups are usually born with this condition. Hydrocephalus can vary in severity, with the worst cases suffering brain damage that may be incompatible with life.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

Mitral valve disease (MVD) is a form of heart disease affecting the valve in the left-hand side of the heart. In the early stages, the dog is fit and well, but the vet may detect a murmur during a routine check-up. Sometimes the condition never progresses and the dog leads a normal, active life. However, some cases do worsen with time and eventually enter heart failure.

Modern medicine offers new hope for dogs with mild to severe heart disease. But key to their success is early detection of the problem, and regular heart scans. This requires the owner to work closely with their vet, to obtain the best outcome for their pet.

Patellar Luxation

Also known as wobbly kneecaps, this condition refers to instability in the location of the kneecaps. This causes a physical locking up of the leg, which presents as the dog skipping steps with a back leg.

In mild cases, all that’s needed is occasional pain relief. However, severely affected dogs can develop early arthritis and reconstructive knee surgery is advisable.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Malchi is more of a lap dog than a working hound, and this is reflected in the meagre amount of exercise they need. However, they will appreciate regular short walks and time spent playing fetch off-leash, as this gives valuable mental stimulation.


The Malchi needs a moderate amount of regular grooming, depending on whether they are long or short-coated. The longer the coat, the more attention it requires, and some may even need six-weekly parlour visits to keep them trim.

Regular brushing at home is necessary, to keep tangles out of their coat and remove shed hair. A bath every month or so is sufficient to keep the coat clean, but without stripping out those natural conditioning oils that keep it in good condition.

Be sure to brush a Malchi’s teeth from an early age. This helps reduce the incidence of dental disease (and means fresh-breath licks and kisses) to which the breed are particularly prone.

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