Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
Photo of adult Malti-Pug
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Here’s a designer dog for those that love all things miniature and fluffy! The Malti-Pug is a small bundle of fur with delightful markings and an affectionate and outgoing personality. It is cross between the affectionate Maltese, and, you guessed it, the lovable Pug. Ideal for those living in small homes and with little time to dedicate to exercise, the Malti-Pug integrates well into apartment life in an urban setting.

Pint-sized though sturdy, this is a small cross-breed dog that is robust enough to be around young children, though should always be supervised for their own safety. They have a straight coat that should grow longer than that of their Pug parent and they are known for shedding a great deal.

About & History

Experts estimate that the first Malti-Pug was probably bred sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, making them one of the original designer dogs. A combination of the spunky Pug and the cheeky Maltese, the Malti-Pug is a diminutive dog with a large personality. A gregarious character that gets on well with most people and animals, this hybrid is a good choice for a household that is already established with children and perhaps some additional pets.

The Maltese

The Maltese does not actually come from Malta as its name suggests, but more likely from the nearby region of Meleda, an ancient Croatian island now known as Mljet. Thought to be an ancient dog breed with over 2,000 years of history to its name, records show that the Maltese was highly-prized in its time, with the ancient Greeks even constructing tombs for them when they passed away.

While the Maltese was able to thrive throughout the centuries, it almost met a premature end in the early 18th century when ill-informed breed fanciers attempted to make the breed even smaller and the population size dwindled. Efforts were made to stop the breed from becoming extinct and it was necessary for other breeds such as the Poodle to be added to their gene pool in order to re-establish a healthy and robust population.

The Pug

Having enjoyed a surge in their popularity over the last couple of decades, many will be surprised to learn that the Pug is not a new breed at all, but rather one that has been around for several thousands of years. Though we are uncertain where they first originated, they were certainly present within China in the year 400 B.C., where they were highly regarded by the local upper classes and aristocracy. It wasn’t until the 1500s that they were introduced to Europe, being imported to Holland and becoming the official dog of the House of Orange.

While they are currently popular for their unusual ‘squished’ face and the ‘pig-like’ barks and snores that they make, we now understand that breeding them to have such shortened noses and pronounced facial folds has actually seriously damaged their health. Veterinarians are now demanding that breeders act now and start establishing a new population of Pugs with longer faces and less breathing issues.


Malti-Pug Large Photo
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The Malti-Pug is typically such a good mix of each parent breed that it can be hard to determine from whom they have originally been bred! Rather than looking like a combination of the Pug and the Maltese, they have quickly developed into a breed in their own right, with quite a unique look. As the Maltese is not classed as a brachycephalic breed, its muzzle is relatively long in comparison to its skull and there is more space for the soft tissues of its head. Due to this, the Malti-Pug should have a much less snub-nosed appearance than the Pug with a more pronounced muzzle.

Perhaps their most dominant facial features are their dark, circular eyes that lend them a keen and alert expression at all times. They may inherit the small, pendulous ears of the Maltese or the ‘button’ or ‘rose’ ears of the Pug, which are typically set higher up on the skull. Their body is square in shape with short limbs. Their tail curls over their back, though is rarely as dramatically curled as that of their Pug parent.

Though many will retain the fawn body and darker facial mask that is typical of some Pugs, others will have solid coat colours that may be fawn, black or white. Their fur is straight and rather harsh, rarely growing as long as the elegant, flowing coat that the Maltese is well-known for.

Character & Temperament

Outgoing and with a mind of their own, the Malti-Pug will be affectionate and gentle but can possess a stubborn streak at times. Very sociable, they will get on well with all other family members, including those of the four-legged variety.

Most Malti-Pugs make good little watch dogs, as they enjoy guarding their territory and emitting loud yaps as soon as someone new arrives. However, this trait can make for a noisy time when the postman or neighbors pops by! Due to its small size and gentle temperament, the Malti-Pug does not make a successful guard dog.


Photo of Malti-Pug puppy
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Not the easiest dog in the world to train, the Malti-Pug certainly has a mind of its own and likes to take control of training sessions if given the chance. Due to this, owners need to be firm but fair, not allowing them to get away with any mischief.

It is not unheard of for a Malti-Pug to develop ‘small dog syndrome’, a behavioural disorder whereby the dog thinks that they rule the roost and can act boisterous and dominant, frequently becoming snappy and difficult to live with. This typically develops when a dog has been overly-babied and has been allowed to get away with bad behavior, such as jumping up or mouthing from a young age because it was mistakenly seen as ‘cute’ at the time. Sensible training is the best way to prevent this behaviour from developing in the first place.


There are a number of diseases that each parent breed is genetically prone to and, while they may be seen somewhat less often in this hybrid dog, they have unquestionably not been eliminated.

Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

Dry Eye can be a tricky disease to diagnose as in the early stages dogs may not show many symptoms. Indeed, in any breed that is prone to developing dry eye, it is advised that their tear production is monitored at each annual vet check. As the disease progresses, the surface of the eye begins to suffer from being chronically dry and a dog may develop a thick mucus discharge, as well as eye infections and ulcers.

The treatment of choice is medicated drops that encourage tear production, as well as the frequent application of lubricant drops. There is also a surgical procedure available, which has varying success.

Brachycephalic Syndrome

One of the best ways to reduce the prevalence of brachycephalic syndrome within a breed is to cross them with a non-brachycephalic dog, as has been done when the flat-faced Pug was crossed with the Maltese. Despite this, some breed members will have a smaller face than they should and may have some issues breathing efficiently.

For some, surgical procedures (such as a surgery to open their nostrils wider) may be of benefit. Owners need to be aware that these dogs are more prone to heat-stroke and can struggle to keep up when exercising with their peers.

Porto-Systemic Shunts

An abnormal blood flow that is present from birth results in blood being shunted away from the liver, meaning it is never processed as it should be. This results in inappropriate digestion of nutrients and a build-up of dangerous toxins over time. Affected dogs will be small for their age and typically also exhibit abnormal neurological behaviour. The treatment of choice is a surgery to alter the flow of blood so it no longer bypasses the liver.

Periodontal Disease

Dogs with small skulls are prone to dental over-crowding and the build up of calculus on their teeth. Owners can prevent this from occurring by brushing their teeth each day, using enzymatic cleaners and feeding a ‘dental diet’ that is hard and crunchy rather than soft meat that can cake on teeth.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While the Malti-Pug is playful and curious, they do not actually need a great deal of outdoor exercise and are usually content with a few short walks that are supplemented with play time and training sessions.


The coat of the Malti-Pug tends to shed quite a lot and should be brushed outside on a daily basis to minimise the loss of fur within the home. As discussed, their teeth benefit from frequent brushing and this is something that owners should work on getting their dogs used to from a young age.

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