How Many Puppies Can a Maltese Have in a Litter Usually?

How Many Puppies Can a Maltese Have? Photo of Maltese puppies

If you’re invested in learning about how many puppies a Maltese can have in a pregnancy, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn about the litter size and puppy size, how many litters a Maltese can have in her life, and the various stages of her heat and pregnancy cycle

How Many Puppies Can a Maltese Have? A Maltese can have between 3-8 puppies in the average pregnancy. Every once in a while, a single puppy will be born or a larger litter of 10 can occur, too. You’ll find that the number of puppies can be impacted by Mom’s size, age, and other genetics.

How big are Maltese puppies when they’re born?

Is there anything cuter than newborn Maltese puppies?  We think not, either. Tiny fluffy little jelly beans when they’re born, Maltese puppies tend to weigh around 4 oz (0.028 kg) and gain steadily every single day as they get stronger and start to develop.

How many litters can a Maltese have?

Since the whole point of breeding is to do it responsibly without ever putting the Maltese mama at risk, most breeders will allow a Maltese to have 4-5 litters at the most. Other breeders use age as their indicator and will retire her from breeding around age 8. Part of responsible breeding, however, is to adjust your schedule to her needs, as shown by her but also a vet or another experienced professional. If her body is showing signs of distress when she is on pregnancy 3 or when she is only 6 years old, she’ll often retire early. Not only is it dangerous to the health and longevity of the mama, but breeding a physically exhausted Maltese can also put the puppies at-risk. 

Another detail is that retirement age either goes by age or litter size, but these two things are not directly connected. If she has 5 litters by the time she is 5 (not recommended, but more on that later), that’s her retirement age. If she’s only had 3 litters by the time she turns 8, she is retired anyway to protect her health.

How many times a year can a Maltese have puppies?

Maltese mamas get pregnant when a stud (male Maltese) impregnates them during the proper stage of her heat cycle (more on that in a bit). Since a Maltese goes into heat twice a year, this means that she can have puppies up to twice a year. 

That being said, she should not have puppies that often. You should normally space out her pregnancies to be at least 1.5 years to 2 years apart to make sure that the pregnancies are successful, give the proper litter size, and that both puppies to be and mama are in good health.

Maltese are toy dog breeds and their size in combination with the number of puppies expected in a litter can often put them at risk of complications. These include health issues and body stress. The more litters she has, and the closer together they are, the more at-risk of issues she becomes. 

At what age do Maltese go into heat?

You may be delighted to learn that Maltese, along with many other dog breeds, reach their sexual maturity at the age of 4 months old, though they typically have their first heat at about 1 year of age. That means that she can enjoy her first pregnancy then, right?  Wrong, unfortunately. Even if she has her first heat cycle right at the 4-month mark, you should never pair her with a stud during that time. She should get at least 2 heat cycles under her belt before you considering her a mating option. We’ll dive into that in more detail later!

How long does a Maltese heat cycle last?

Your Maltese’s heat cycle should last about 2-4 weeks on average. During that time, she’s most fertile between days 10 and 15 as far as the stage in her heat cycle. 

Stages of a Maltese’s heat cycle

The three stages (expandable to four if she’s pregnant — keep reading) of a Maltese’s heat cycle include


This is a 9-day stage in which she secretes hormones letting studs know that she is getting ready to mate, though she doesn’t mate in this stage. This is marked by a bit of bloody discharge. 


This 9-12-day stage is where the breeding will take place. You’ll want to allow the stud to mount her multiple times, particularly near the end of this stage for best results in the puppy possibility. 


In normal cases, this is the third stage. In this one, her body will return to normal for months before her next heat cycle starts.

Luteal phase

Technically overlapping with other stages, this stage is when she actually gets pregnant. The egg is released and that meets with the sperm that comes from the stud during mounting sessions. This stage, along with the pregnancy lasts 2-3 months until birth. 

What’s the best age for a Maltese to get pregnant?

If you’re anxious to get started in breeding your Maltese, here’s what you’ve been waiting to learn: you can have the best results for pregnancy if you allow her to get pregnant around two years old. 

That’s a long time from her first heat cycle, isn’t it?  The thing is, just because she goes into heat so early doesn’t mean that she should get pregnant. Her body is still developing right up until she is about a year or two years old. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure that you hold off on pregnancy until she is full grown.

As mentioned, a pregnancy in and of itself is taxing for a toy breed like a Maltese, and this is made even stronger if she is not full-grown. When she is still developing, her pelvis won’t be fully grown and this won’t properly allow for the puppies to pass through safely. This puts her and her pups at risk if she were to get pregnant and attempt to deliver the puppies naturally (rather than a c-section or other medical intervention).

As well, the younger and smaller she is, the more strain it puts on her body. This could lead to puppy injury or death as well as even a lost pregnancy. The younger she is, the less infertile she is. If she does get pregnant successfully at a young age, she will most likely have a smaller litter with smaller puppies as well. 

Maltese pregnancy signs to watch for

Excited for your Maltese to become a mom?  Make it all the more exciting by watching for some of the signs of pregnancy that you’re most likely to see in your dog. 

These include physical signs such as the swelling of her nipples or breasts as well as weight gain that is out of character. They also could include attitude changes such as an increased appetite and even acting protective of herself around other animals, or protective of her favorite nesting spot.

That being said, you will always want to get a pregnancy test for Maltese mama because these sweet doggos are known for often showing signs of pregnancy and then it resolves itself around the fourth week, making many feel as though she’s had a miscarriage or another issue. In reality, it was just a false pregnancy!  

This is part of why making sure that the stud mounts her several times during the right stage is so important. It may take several times for her to become pregnant, especially if she’s young. Too little exposure can give you nothing more than a false pregnancy and you’ll want to wait for a few heat cycles before trying it again. She can be a sneaky little thing, can’t she?  But remember that this isn’ her fault!  IT happens in humans, too, after all. Never punish her for this.

How long is a Maltese pregnancy?

Pregnancy lasts about 6-7 weeks or 60 days in most cases for Maltese moms. Anything that goes beyond 65 days should get a check from the vet to make extra sure that everything is going according to plan!

There are a lot of factors that can go into determining the proper and health length of a Maltese’s pregnancy. These factors can include genetics from her parents, but also things like her size and age and even just her individual needs as a dog.

The only thing cuter than your Maltese is Maltese puppies!  Miniature, impossibly tiny versions of their mama, they’re certainly a sight to see. This guide will help you know what to expect if your Maltese mama is about to deliver a litter for herself.

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Dog Advisory Council

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