Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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For those who lack willpower and already have enough pets at home, look away now! The Maltipom is a cute bundle of fluff that is sure to steal your heart. Inheriting its sweet and affectionate nature from the Maltese and its confidence from the Pomeranian, the Maltipom has a larger than life personality.

The Maltipom is notable for its short stature and the fact that it rarely weighs anything more than 4kg. Their long coat is luxurious, but certainly requires a lot of upkeep. Though most Maltipoms will be white like their Maltese parent, several other coat colours can be seen and many dogs will be bi-coloured.

About & History

The Maltipom is a cross between the Maltese and the Pomeranian and is also known as the Pomanese. Though it is widely assumed that the Maltipom originated in North America, there is no proof of this and no-one is sure when exactly the first puppies were produced. It has certainly been popular practice since the 1970s and 1980s to breed two toy dogs together to create a hybrid, and it is likely that the Maltipom has already been in existence for several decades. While the names are very similar, the Maltipom should not be confused with the Maltipoo, who is a cross between a Maltese Terrier and a Poodle.

The Maltese

The Maltese may be associated with the island of Malta but is more likely to have been developed in the nearby region of Mljet, a Croatian island that was once known as Meleda. Despite its small stature, many will refer to the Maltese as ‘The Lion Dog’, a nod towards its big personality.

A breed with an impressive history that dates back over several millennia, experts believe that the Maltese was revered by the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Greeks, with some beloved pets even being buried in tombs. The Maltese almost met its end in the 19th century and breed numbers got so low that they had to be crossed with other small breeds, such as the Poodle, to avoid extinction. The Maltese has been recognised by the Kennel Club within their Toy Group since the 1870s.

The Pomeranian

The Pomeranian is a Spitz breed, meaning that they have the characteristic wedge-shaped face, erect ears and curled tail characteristics of other Spitzes, such as the Samoyed and the Siberian Husky. The original Pomeranians likely hail from the ancient region of Pomerania – a territory now occupied by Germany and Poland.

It is widely believed that the breed was established in the 1700s, though these original Poms would have been a lot larger. It was Queen Victoria of England that is thought to have contributed to the ‘shrinking’ of the breed, with some suggesting that the breed became about 50% smaller during her lifetime. While the Maltese may be compared to a lion, the appearance of the Pom and its red coat mean that many call it the ‘Fox Dog’.


Pint-sized, fluffy and utterly adorable, the Maltipom is an irresistible hybrid. With a small, wedge-shaped head and a tail that curls over their back, the Spitz ancestry from the Pomeranian side is evident. Their dark brown eyes have a mischievous twinkle and are hard to resist when being used to beg for treats! While some breed members will have ears that stand erect, others will have semi-erect ears or those that flop down completely like those of their Maltese parent. Their body is small but sturdy and they have dainty little paws.

Measuring from 18cm to 21cm and weighing in at a meagre 2kg to 4kg, the Maltipom is one of the smallest hybrids around. When allowed to grow to its full length, the fur of the Maltipom can be very long and dense, though many will choose to trim the fur short, as preventing matts and tangles can require a lot of dedication. Their fur is soft to touch and typically hypoallergenic, rarely shedding much at all. Most will have a white or cream coat but it is also possible to have fawn, brown, grey and black fur.

Character & Temperament

With both of its parents having been kept as companion animals and family pets for many years, it’s little wonder that the Maltipom makes for a sociable and well-adjusted cross-breed. Sweet and affectionate, they bond very closely with their family, though do require supervision when around young children due to their very small size and delicate bone structure.

A terrific little guard dog, the loyal Maltipom is always on high alert and will be more than happy to alert their owner of any new person that has arrived. Of course, their friendly nature and diminutive size makes them inadequate guard dogs, though they don’t seem to realise this! They have a reputation for barking incessantly at strangers – a bad habit which owners should attempt to address from an early age.

Some individuals will form a closer relationship with one person, perhaps the one that feeds them or spends most time in their company. They will have a tendency to pay more attention to this person and it can be useful if this individual is the one that trains them.


Eager to please their family and with a good degree of intelligence, the Maltipom should master most basic commands. Anecdotally, they take longer than the average dog to housetrain – a feature which is likely due to the small size of their bladder and their inability to hold their urine in for too long without discomfort.

‘Small Dog Syndrome’ can pose an issue in some, particularly those that are overly babied and not treated as the dogs they are. This behavioural issue can become so bad that dogs will snap and bark at any new people that approach them. Starting a strict training programme form a young age and not tolerating any naughty behaviour should ensure that a young dog does not go on to develop this frustrating syndrome.


Determining which health issues are more likely to affect a new breed it so important as it can allow for breeding practices to be put into place that can reduce the incidence of the diseases and ensure a healthier population. The following are potential issues that may be seen in the Maltipom:

Heart Disease (Mitral Valve Disease & Patent Ductus Arteriosus)

A dog’s heart disease may first be picked up by a vet during a routine exam when they notice a heart murmur (extra heart sound). The dog may not show any signs in the early stages of the disease and it is only as things progress that an owner will notice something is wrong. Various tests including heart scans and ECGs will be able to determine which heart condition the dog is affected by.

Liver Shunt

A liver shunt is also known as a Portosystemic Shunt. When a shunt is present, blood bypasses the liver so is not processed, meaning toxins and nutrients that are normally metabolised by the liver are entering the circulation before they should. The liver is reduced in size and does not work as it should.

Affected dogs are often smaller than their littermates and may suffer from a range of gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms. Medical management will be started to control the symptoms and then some dogs will go on to have a surgery to tie off the abnormal blood vessel.


A build-up of fluid in the brain is more often seen in very small breeds of dog. The skull will be larger than average with a ‘domed’ shape. Some animals may exhibit neurological signs, such as blindness and seizures. Most dogs are managed with medication, such as anti-seizure medicine and corticosteroids. There is an available surgery that can be curative, but sadly, this is not always an option for all owners due to the high cost.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The perfect dog for those living in an apartment, the Maltipom only needs minimal exercise and a few 15-minute walks a day should suffice. Owners should not neglect their mental development and should encourage them to play along in a variety of games and to solve puzzles and play with interactive toys.


When allowed to grow to its full potential, the long coat of the Maltipom is a sight to behold. However, maintaining the coat in good condition requires daily grooming and frequent preening and pampering. Tear staining can be reduced with the use of specific cleaners though may not ever be fully eliminated.

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