The Maltese breed will generally live a longer life when compared to many other dog breeds. This is because many smaller dogs, especially those known as the toy breeds, often live much longer than their larger cousins.
So how long does a Maltese Live ? A Maltese will live on average 12 years to 15 years in life. The average length is closer to 14 years. How long a particular Maltese will live will depend on many factors such as lifestyle, exercise, exposure to the elements, genetics and their purpose in life.
A large determining factor on the length of life of a dog breed is based on the common health issues which can affect that breed. For Maltese the health issues which are common ailments are usually not fatal and can be managed by medication.
Factors Affecting A Long Life
Here is a list of factors which contribute to the length of life for your dog:
- Lifestyle : If a Maltese has lived a life living inside, eating well and having access to vet care when needed they are more likely to live a longer life as they have been well cared for during their life.
- Sex : No matter which species it is on earth it seems that females tend to live longer than males in most cases. For the Maltese breed this is on average an extra one year for a female compared with a male.
- Exposure to the elements: A dog which has lived outside in the rain, snow, sun, heat and cold are going to have had more hardships put onto their bodies than a dog which lives inside on a comfy bed. Having an inside life will always help look after your dogs body throughout the years but is even more important in the older years especially in colder climates.
- Exercise : Exercise and movement keeps your body loose, mobile and healthy and its exactly the same for your dog. Adequate exercise will help keep your dog healthy and excited about life. An example would be if your dog needs to go up and down stairs everyday that added exercise will help to keep them fitter and live a much healthier, happier and longer life.
- Genetics : A dogs genetics can be a major factor in how long your dog will live. If your dog has got good genetics it is likely to be more resistant to disease and cancer and will live longer than a dog which did not have as good genetics.
- Purpose in Life: A dog needs a purpose in life in order to want to live. If your dog is bored everyday and does not feel loved they are less likely to live a long life and it definitely will be a less fulfilled life. Give your dog a reason to live by loving them each and every day, cuddle them, praise them and look after them. Don’t ignore them but include them in whatever you are doing.
- Diet: A healthy diet will help keep the weight of your dog in check so they do not become obese which can cause lots of complications and health issues. Choosing the right food and water is a very important factor.
Understanding the Risk Factors for a Maltese
In order to help our best friends to live longer it is a good idea to understand what the leading causes of deaths are in each dog breed. Fortunately, there has been an enormous study into over 74,000 dogs by the University of Georgia. This huge study identified the following leading causes of deaths in Maltese:
- Cardiovascular Disease : This is the leading cause of deaths in Maltese dogs with over 1 in 5 dogs dying from a heart condition. This can be due to genetics such as a mitral valve disease or can be due to poor fitness and not enough exercise. Keeping your Maltese fit and happy with a good diet can help minimize the chance of any heart related problems.
- Congenital Disease : This is the second highest cause of death within the Maltese breed. Basically this is all of the genetically inherited diseases such as Colitis, Liver Shunts and Hydrocephalus. This risk factor is hard to minimize except for keeping your dog healthy, fed and well looked after.
- Cancer : This is the third highest contributor to death in Maltese dogs. Cancer inflicts our puppies just like it can deal it on our friends and family. It is indiscriminate and the randomness of it means it can be very hard to detect early. There are always contributors to cancer such as sun exposure, people smoking around dogs, genetics, a poor diet and minimal exercise. The best way to try and prevent cancer is to live a healthy lifestyle for both you and your dog. This includes a healthy diet and a good amount of exercise. One of the best things about Maltese is that they actually have the lowest rates of cancer in comparison to other dog breeds. This should be a comforting thought that at least Maltese do have good genetics against cancer related deaths.
- Trauma : Trauma usually comes due to being hit by cars. Other forms of trauma include being dropped in an awkward position, being stepped on, or something falling on them. It can also include dog fights of which the Maltese generally fares badly because of their small size. Keeping your Maltese in a safe place and being careful when walking around them or handling them will go a long way to to protecting them.
- Infections : Young puppies can die from viruses and infections because they are too young to be vaccinated. These include things like the dreaded parvovirus, Leptospirosisis and distemper. Parasites and bacterial infections can also be deadly if untreated or the infection doesn’t respond to treatment. This is a leading cause of death in younger puppies and the best solution to this issue is to quarantine your puppy until they have built up their immune system and had their vaccinations. For instance, this may mean walking only in your backyard till all vaccinations are completed and by holding your puppy off the floor when visiting the vets or anywhere else other dogs may have frequented.
Tips for Extending the Life of Your Maltese Dog
The set of reasons outlined in the previous section of the article are the most common causes of death in a Maltese. By understanding these causes we can take steps to prevent the highest chances of death and this will extend the life span of your Maltese. These tips will give the best chance for your Maltese to live a long, healthy life full of fun, love and enjoyment.
- Love your dog. I put this reason first as I think it is the most important. If you show your dog love and affection it will give your dog a reason to live each and every day. They will return the same love back to you. It will inspire your puppy to enjoy the time spent with you however short or long that may be. Quality of life is even more important than length of life for a dog.
- Exercise your Dog. If your puppy has not had its vaccinations then you should play with it often only in your yard or living room. Run it around so that it gets a good deal of its energy out and gets a good start to fitness in its life. If your Maltese is a bit older then you should take it for walks. Try and include stairs on your walks as they will give a good cardio workout to your dog. Remember though that Maltese are a small breed and there legs will be moving very fast to keep up with you. Do not go too quickly but quick enough to ensure your dog is puffing by the end of the walk. The walk will also mentally stimulate your dogs mind.
- Feed your dog a healthy diet. There are lots of options when it comes to snacks and food for your Maltese. You want to choose a food which is not bulked up by grain products. Look for food which is wholesome, all natural and are clear of chemicals and artificial flavors. These types of food options unfortunately will likely be at a more premium price but it can be very beneficial for your Maltese. Good quality food will be nourishing for your dog and chemicals should be avoided as they tend to find some chemicals cause cancer when they previously thought they were not connected.
- Do not overfeed your dog. Overfeeding your dog will turn your dog into an obese dog. An obese dog will have a higher chance of cardiovascular issues which is the leading cause of death in a Maltese. Diet, food portion size and exercise are the most important factors to reduce cardiovascular disease.
- Prevent Trauma and Injuries. There are a few options to minimize the chance of trauma. Watch where you are walking, don’t carry your Maltese while juggling other things or not paying full attention, ensure your dog is strapped in when travelling in a car, use a crate when transporting your dog, keeping a very careful eye on any children which are near your Maltese, and keeping your Maltese on a leash when exercising or out in public. When walking be very untrusting of other dogs. Your Maltese is small and it will not be in a fair fight if another dog was to suddenly attack. Keep your Maltese away from larger dogs who may get overexcited and step on them. Basically all of these tips are about not dropping, stepping on or putting your Maltese into unnecessary danger of injury.
- Ensure you get Vaccinations. Ensure that your dog has all of their vaccinations to prevent illness. If your puppy is not vaccinated then when visiting the vets ensure you keep them away from the floor, dog bowls, outside areas, etc. Dogs can carry dangerous illnesses such as parvovirus that your puppy may not be vaccinated for depending on its age. Vet’s will suggest that you do not take your dog out into a public place until it has had its vaccinations and at least two more weeks have passed to ensure the vaccinations have built up a resistance. Ask your vet about which vaccinations are required and if there are any optional ones which they would suggest for your area. Typically the vaccination for Leptospirosisis not given in an urban environment. Also ensure you ask if your Vet provides a reminder service for booster shots. Most vets will offer a service to mail or call you reminding you to bring in your dog for a booster shot.
- Get Checkups for your Dog. People should have regular checkups and so should your dog. I would suggest at least once a year your Maltese should be checked for issues which are common for Maltese. This will generally include checking for arthritis and heart murmurs in a Maltese. Your vet will also weigh your dog and give you any advice going forward for the next twelve months.
- Shelter your dog from the Weather. Maltese are small enough to be inside dogs and can sleep at the end of your bed or in a room in the house. The weather can be harsh on dogs left outside and outside dogs will always have a life span which is far inferior to an inside dog. If your dog must be outside then ensure it has a very good kennel to live in which will protect it from rain, snow, cold and wind. It will need a good soft bedding to ensure that the coldness from the floor does not come up through the bedding and into their bones. Basically provide the best and safest place for your Maltese to live.
- Ensure clean, safe water is always available. Dogs can dehydrate quickly so you should always ensure that there is adequate water available for your dog. This should include multiple water sources in case one runs out or is blocked or contaminated. Also in some areas water can be contaminated with chemicals or toxins. If you do not drink tap water and instead put it through a filter then ensure that you also give your dog filtered water. What is good for you is also good for them.
- Routine Grooming. A well brushed, groomed dog which is bathed on a regular basis will allow you to be on top of parasites, skin infections, fleas and ticks. Ticks can be deadly and you need to be on top of it as soon as possible. If you can brush your dog every day this will allow you to check the skin for any fleas or ticks and deal with them in a quick manner.
- Worm your dog. Worming your dog should be a regular routine to ensure they do not get a variety of worms which can be deadly to their health. Heart worm is the main concern and your vet can give you a good idea on what medication should be administered to your Maltese to protect from these types of parasites.
- You know your dog best. If you suspect something isn’t quite right then you are the best person to know the situation. You should take your dog to the vets if you feel something is off and you fear for your dogs livelihood. If your vet doesn’t give you an adequate answer then you are more than entitled to get a second opinion with another vet. People can make mistakes and if you do not agree with the vets assessment do not hesitate to get a second opinion.
Hopefully these tips give you a good insight in how to extend the life of your Maltese so that it can live a long wonderful life. Keep in mind that it is always quality of life which is important as a high quality life full of emotional support and love will lead to a longer life for your Maltese.