How Long Do Maltese Live? Lifespan and Causes of Death

How Long Do Maltese Live? Photo of a Maltese dog laying on the carpet

Maltese make great companions for people who love to spend as much time with their dogs. They fit well as a family pet and also live relatively longer than other dog breeds. If you wish to have a dog that’s most likely to stay with you for a longer time, a Maltese may be a perfect choice. 

How long do Maltese live? Maltese dogs are expected to live as long as 12-15 years with an average age of living up until 13.5 years old. Although, there are Maltese dogs that have exceeded these years while some have lived below the expected lifespan — This could somehow prove that it greatly depends on how a dog is taken care of for it to reach a potentially long life. 

In this article, we’ll be discussing the major factors that can affect a Maltese dog’s lifespan, its most common cause of fatality, and how you can help the Maltese dogs live a longer and happier life.

Factors Affecting the Life Expectancy of a Maltese Dog 

It’s natural for any dog owner to wish their furry companions a much longer life than expected, especially when they’ve grown closer throughout the years. Fortunately, the Maltese dogs live longer on average than any other dog breed, however, this doesn’t escape them from possible factors affecting the Maltese lifespan.

If you’re deciding to get a Maltese, it’s good to know what could negatively affect its longevity and hopefully push further their life expectancies chances. In truth, being knowledgeable of these factors can help you become a better dog owner, and may even grant you to cherish more years of friendship and love with your dog.

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Diet and Nutrition 

A balanced diet is essential to keeping your Maltese active and free from any health conditions. A Maltese that’s suffering from obesity or is underweight is possible to live less than its potentially long life. If your dog is obese or underweight, it’s at risk to develop any other health issue that may cause its fatality. For instance, if your Maltese is diagnosed with obesity, it instantly becomes prone to getting a heart disease — a condition that could be linked to breathing problems and would cause your dog’s system to collapse if not treated. 

As you can see, a lack of proper nutrition can be detrimental to your dog’s health and would turn into a health problem if negligence remains. When we speak of “nutrition,” some dog owners would think of it only as feeding their dog the right amount of dog food, when in truth, the cleanliness, freshness, and quality of your dog’s food is important as well.


Although Maltese dogs and some other toy dog breed aren’t required to do much exercise compared to larger and working dogs, this doesn’t mean they don’t need it. It’s true that Maltese dogs tend to be playful and energetic so it’s suggested to keep your dog active with light and entertaining physical activities. 

Dog experts state that a Maltese dog only needs at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, which may be what makes it an ideal dog for you if you’re not fond of exercising as well. Consider physical activities that aren’t too strenuous for a Maltese; never overexert your dog, or else it might be in immediate risk of physical injuries and other medical issues.


If you were to take care of a Maltese, you’d realize how simpler it is compared to taking care of a big dog. Maltese dogs were bred to be in the comforts of indoor life. Meaning, as long as a Maltese is well-fed, groomed, does light exercise, and take regular visits at the vet, it can already be enough to lengthen their life.

Even though Maltese dogs can thrive in small living spaces, it’s a priority for you to provide it a safe and comfortable place where it can relax and enjoy itself. A home with controlled temperature and is ensured to be free from hazards is what a toy dog needs most.

Medical Care 

Every pet dog should have access to the vet for annual check-up and medications or treatments when needed. Maltese, like any other dog, need proper assessment of their overall well-being. If your dog experiences being ill or injured, it’s important to have it checked right away before it worsens. 

Understand that even minor ailments tend to get bigger if neglected and not addressed. Total negligence on your Maltese’s health care can truly decrease its longevity. 

Health problems prevalent in Maltese dogs 

Maltese have health problems ranging from mild to severe, and some health issues, unfortunately, are determined as their genetic predisposition. Maltese dogs are most susceptible to bacterial and viral infections like parvo but can be prevented through prior vaccination.

This dog breed is also prone to getting cardiovascular disease, such as mitral valve disease, which is tragically the leading cause of their death; treatment is needed when a dog is diagnosed with this disease; otherwise, it would cause further damage and heart failure.

Other illnesses that Maltese dogs are most vulnerable to aren’t as fatal; however, it does decrease the quality of their life. For instance, Maltese are prone to skin diseases that cause them to smell bad and experience itchiness and extreme discomfort. The Maltese dog breed can also inherit or develop eye conditions like Glaucoma that’s painful and can gradually lead to blindness if not treated.

As a potential Maltese owner, understand that your schedule and commitment matter when taking care of a Maltese. Giving time and consistent effort are crucial for your dog to live a longer and happier life. Highlight that providing it with good nutrition, ample exercise, a comfortable lifestyle, medical care, and assistance is necessary.

Common Maltese Death Causes 

Now that we’ve clarified some of the main factors affecting the Maltese lifespan, you’re most likely to establish a better plan of action on how you can generally take care of your dog and how you can deal with some of its health issues that may come up in the future. 

Understand that prevalent health issues in Maltese doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog is certain to following complications, it just means that it’s at risk of it if not properly taken care of. With that said, you may want to watch out for the common causes of death in the Maltese dog breed as well.

Cardiovascular Disease 

Like what was aforementioned, heart ailments are prevalent in Maltese dogs and have been regarded as the number one cause of their death. This condition affects your dog’s heart or blood vessels, deteriorating its system’s normal functioning and would lead to heart failure when not addressed despite a showing of early signs. 

Prominent symptoms of cardiovascular disease in dogs include shortness of breath or elevated breathing, rapid exhaustion, seizures, and coughing. Take your Maltese to the doctor once you observe some of these symptoms manifesting. Early diagnosis would push a range of treatments; it can be medicinal prescriptions, dietary adjustment, or even surgery, depending on the severity. 

Congenital Disease 

Maltese suffer from inborn conditions that can affect their lifespan. A top concern of congenital disease is Liver Shunt which is also known as Portosystemic Shunt; it happens when the blood vessels bypassing the liver fail to function which leaves toxins and wastes unfiltered and freely enter the body. 

Signs that your Maltese is suffering from Liver Shunt would include stunted growth, seizures, vomiting, excessive thirst, and urination. Medical procedures such as physical examination and further diagnostic tests would help determine if a dog has liver shunt. Surgery is also an option for treatment, although specific medications and diet may be advised for management. 


Other than illnesses and old age, a large percent of Maltese dogs die from accidents that cause severe physical injuries and cardiac arrest due to trauma. Common instances like when a dog gets hits by a car, is bitten by larger dog/s, or falls from extreme height are traumatic and can lead to its fatality. 

These instances can be avoided if you’re sure to provide your Maltese with a secure and pet-friendly environment. It’s also important not to leave your dog unsupervised and always be in the care of the hands of a trusted family member or friend if you’re away.

How to Help the Maltese Dogs Live Longer 

Owning a Maltese can be a wonderful experience since they’re naturally easygoing and affectionate dogs, no wonder why many Maltese owners wish to lengthen their dog’s life.

If you’re thinking about welcoming a Maltese into your family and desire it to become a longtime companion, it’s already an automatic basic requirement to provide your dog a safe environment, healthy food, regular grooming, and access to medical care. 

So, what else can you do? Below are other ideas you can consider in lengthening your Maltese dog’s life:

Picture of a healthy Maltese puppy

Constant supervision 

Maltese dogs have la lively personality and they love to be the center of attention. Note that supervision doesn’t stop when your Maltese has already become an adult, and that your dog needs to be looked out for regularly. 

Keep an eye on your Maltese with the activities it tends to do alone, understand that dogs know very little of particular things that could harm them and every dog owners’ responsibility is to ensure that their dogs are away from potential danger. 

For example, you should watch out for whatever your dog puts in its mouth. It can be inedible or sharp object/s that can either poison or injure your Maltese. Then again, if you’re not at home to supervise your dog, you mustn’t leave it alone but have it under the care of someone responsible.

Give time for sleep and relaxation 

As much as you want to keep your Maltese active, it also needs ample amount of rest to function well during its waking hours. Maltese dogs are required to sleep 10-12 hours a day during their adult years while it may take longer during puppyhood. 

Unlike us humans, dogs don’t have sleeping schedules or routines to follow, they’re sure to snooze just about anytime they’d feel like it. Absence of rest is possible to decrease the lifespan of your dog so it’s very important to give your Maltese the freedom to relax when it needs it most. It may be boring to hear, but long naps during the day is the real main event that can’t be taken away from a dog’s daily life. 

Eliminate stress-causing factors 

When your dog is exposed to a lot of stress-causing factors, it’s quality of life is sure to significantly decrease and it’s possible for it to live a shorter lifespan as well. Maltese are toy dogs which make them very vulnerable; stress would cause your dog to feel many kinds of anxiety that can take a toll on its overall well-being.

There’s a lot of things that can stress your Maltese such as loud music, aggressive children, a death of a close family member or simply being left alone for long hours at home. If you notice that your dog is under stress and know the reason behind it, act on it immediately.

Common symptoms of stress in dogs include shedding, shaking, and frequent whining or barking. When your dog shows any signs of stress, provide it with enough emotional support and try your best to calm it down. It’s also advised that you consult a vet when symptoms tend to worsen. 


The key for your Maltese to live a long life is not only based on what you can physically provide it as an owner, but it demands your love and empathy too. Taking care of a Maltese is almost like taking care of a child. It will surely take a lot of your effort but in the end, it’s worth it. 

Despite your desire of lengthening your dog’s lifespan, understand that its quality of life is far more important. Making it meaningful while your buddy is still with you is what truly matters and your dog will thank you for it; maybe not in a way that’s spoken, but it will show! 

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Dog Advisory Council

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