Malteses are cute white fluffy balls of fur and are as adorable and endearing as can be. They have a history of being favorites and evoking interest in many people.
Many families are genuinely interested in owning a Maltese and want to know if these little guys can cope in a house with kids. So are Malteses good with kids and babies?
The thing is, Malteses are good with kids, but not babies. Tricky right? What this means is that Malteses are great with older kids but don’t fair too well with much younger children.
To understand what I mean precisely, we will take an in-depth look at the nature of Maltese as we know it, and the many circumstances surrounding their relationship with children.
The Maltese has made a name for itself as a companion dog throughout history. Maltese is an affectionate dog and is always in need of affection.
It likes to be very close to humans, either right underfoot, cozy in your arms or cuddling on your lap. Maltese may suffer separation anxiety if kept away from the human touch for long. It is patient, gentle, charming, intelligent, and very trusting.
The lively, energetic, and playful nature of the Maltese goes well into old age, and this makes it loved by adults and children alike. Maltese simply loves to be around people and makes for a good companion.
The Nature of Maltese Dogs as It Relates to Kids
As a toy breed, Maltese dog has been generally described as fragile, standing at about 8-10 inches tall and weighing about 4-7 pounds. The tiny and delicate nature of this dog necessitates a considerable amount of care when handling it.
The energetic and boisterous nature of smaller kids makes them a possible hazard to the toy dog as they can accidentally step on it, drop it, sit on it, or even hold it too tightly.
The Malteses are not recommended for homes with smaller kids, and breeders may even refuse to sell it to families with babies and toddlers for the safety of the dog. An accidental fall of a child on a Maltese could be fatal to the dog – most especially when it’s still a puppy.
Seeing how adorable a Maltese looks, the first instinct of a child is to pick him up, cuddle him, and walk around with him.
It is quite likely that a pup can wriggle out of the grasp of a child and fall to the floor if the child is unable to hold it securely. The risks involved in handling both Maltese and young kids usually result in damage to the dog.
We can’t ignore the fact that little children are full of life and will always want to burn off energy by running around and making loud noises.
Larger dogs have been known to be able to handle the hyperactivity of kids, unlike toy dogs. Toy dogs tend to get frightened and stressed by loud noises and lots of activities.
The hyperactivity of kids may appear intimidating to the dog, and it might interpret it as a threat. In times like this, the friendly and playful Maltese dog may snap or bite in a bid to defend itself, causing harm to the child.
The Maltese will thrive in an environment with adults or more experienced children who know how to handle it, and where someone usually is home for much of the day.
What If My Child Is Gentle and Careful?
It’s true that not every child is rowdy, loud, and play roughly; many young children are thoughtful, gentle, and careful.
If you have such impressions about your child, it still doesn’t rule out the fact that accidents happen, and you can never be too sure with kids.
Even if your child is reliable, there will be times when other kids will come around and may want to play with the dog. So, thoughtful consideration ought to be given at every point in time.
At What Age Can You Get a Maltese Dog for Your Child?
It is a rule of thumb that little kids are generally unruly and not a good match for a pup, especially one as delicate as the Maltese. Kids do not understand how very fragile this breed is and that your Maltese cannot handle the kind of play they dish out.
It is not advisable to get a Maltese for a child younger than five years, reasons being that motor skills of younger children are not well developed and they tend to get clumsy (falling easily and dropping things) even when they don’t mean to.
Here is what a blog reader had to say about the question:
“Personally, I would not get a 2-year-old a Maltese. Unless the 2-year-old is very inactive, it’s not a good idea. A Maltese is a fairly fragile dog, fine bones, etc. I have a 2-year-old grandson and I cringe when he comes over. He will not leave Taffy alone, chases her, grabs for her, and has even fallen almost on her. I put her in my bedroom now when he comes. Maltese can get hurt in a number of accidental ways, and 2-year-olds kids are just too active and curious for this type of dog.”Malteseonly.com
Managing Maltese Dogs and Kids
Experts advise that wait a few years before getting a Maltese dog if your children are very young. But if you must get a Maltese dog, make the following provisions:
1. There should be constant parental supervision or elderly supervision.
Whenever your kids are playing with the dog, ensure you watch over them properly. The dog could get irritated by the loud nature of kids or may even misinterpret simple gestures like a hug from a child as a threat and may hurt the kids.
Also, the rough play of kids may cause harm to the dog. Therefore, if you want to keep your dog and children safe, never leave them unsupervised.
You should know this will demand your time and patience. So if you cannot provide adequate supervision, then you should consider getting a sturdier breed like a Shih Tzu, Bichon, or Havanese.
2. Teach your kids how to play with the dog to avoid accidental injuries.
Your kids should know the dog may not always like them pulling on its ears, its tail, or hugging it too tightly. You can tell them not to pick him up but rather sit on the floor to play with him.
It is important to teach them to let the dog be when it wants to retreat or rest because approaching the dog when it is sleeping might startle it and cause it to react defensively.
Also, teach them that the fragile build of the Maltese calls for gentle care. Teach them that playing with the dog too roughly may result in them being bitten.
An effective way of teaching kids is by showing them practical lessons. Sit close to your dog with your kid on your lap. Teach your kid to let the dog sniff them by holding out your hand under your dog’s nose and making your child do the same.
Proceed to pet your dog gently and hold your child’s hand to do the same. If your child is not doing it correctly or is being too rough, tell the child no and explain to him that he could hurt the dog.
Training your child this way will go a long way in keeping your dog and child safe. Keep in mind that even if you teach and explain to them, kids will always be kids, and they may not understand. Hence, constant supervision is vital.
3. Also, ensure you socialize your Maltese dog early.
This way, it gets exposed to little kids and becomes accustomed to their behaviors. This reduces the tendency of it being threatened by their loud and unpredictable mannerisms and getting snappish.
Popular opinions suggest getting a puppy while your kids are still young (not too young, though). This way, they grow up together, and the dog gets comfortable around the kids.
You can also enroll them in puppy kindergarten classes to properly socialize them around kids and other pets.
4. You can consider bringing home a more mature and larger Maltese (ones weighing about 6-7 pounds).
Larger Malteses have more prominent bone structure and, even though still fragile, are not as vulnerable as pups. Adult Malteses are more mature and tend to behave better with your kids and babies.
5. You may also consider putting up pet gates.
The pet gate creates a boundary between your child and the dog. This is one of the best and easiest ways to keep both your child and dog safe. Designs with complicated child-proof latches are advisable.
When choosing a pet gate, ensure that it is sturdy enough and cannot be easily chewed through as dogs are fond of this. Also, ensure that it is high enough so the dog won’t be able to jump over. Most of all, it should be comfortable.
6. Encourage good behavior.
It is noteworthy that positive reinforcement will go a long way in improving the relationship between your child and dog. If your kid is playing with and petting the dog properly, praise them and tell them that they are doing a good job.
Likewise, if your dog is gently accepting your child’s touch and petting, you can consider giving it a treat and praising it, so it knows such behavior is encouraged.
Benefits of Having a Maltese Dog
There are still so many fantastic reasons the Maltese will be of benefit to your child. You can find below some good reasons:
- Maltese is a bubbly and playful dog: Your kids will find a wonderful playmate in this toy breed. Its size belies the amount of energy this little dog possesses. It enjoys running around, cuddling, playing games, and entertaining its owners. It also takes well to training and can be taught tricks to entertain and amuse your kids. Kids will surely find in the Maltese, a faithful companion with whom they can share happy moments.
- It is safe for allergy sufferers: While no dog is entirely allergen-free, some breeds have been known to cause fewer allergies. Allergies are usually caused by dander (dandruff-like) produced by dogs. It is dry skin that flakes off and becomes airborne and can cause sneezing and watery eyes. Some breeds produce less dander, and luckily enough, our toy dog is among such breed because it does not have an undercoat, and doesn’t shed. This makes it safe for children who suffer from allergies.
- Caring for a Maltese teaches your child responsibility: Responsibility is an important thing to learn, and parents are always out to instill it in their kids. Having someone else to care for and look out for will help kids learn to be responsible for someone other than themselves. The gentle care Maltese demands will teach children to be more considerate and respectful of how they treat others. If you are seeking to show your child compassion, responsibility, empathy, and boosting their emotional intelligence, then you should consider having a dog.
- A Maltese will watch over your child: Despite their small stature, Maltese make for excellent watchdogs. They are very alert and will elicit a flurry of barking in response to unfamiliar noises. These dogs are protective and will defend their loved ones if they sense any form of danger.
Other Dog Breeds to Consider If Maltese Is Not Suited You
If you can’t cope with the demands of bringing a Maltese into a home with kids require, you may consider getting any of the breeds listed below, and they will do just fine.
- Bull terrier
- Irish setter
- Shih Tzu
- Bichon Frise
- Standard Poodle
From this article, it is clear that Maltese dogs and kids are not one of the best combinations out there, but with enough care, patience, and supervision, your Maltese and kids can grow to love each other very much.