The Maltese, with a gorgeous, long, white, flowing coat, bright black nose, and black-rimmed, dark eyes dates back to at least 1500 B.C. Regal in appearance and carriage, yet playful, alert, and affectionate by nature, the Maltese is known to among the gentlest and least fearful of the small breeds.
Weighing less than 7 pounds and reaching a height of just 7 – 9 inches tall at the shoulder, Maltese dogs have been popular lapdogs for a very long time. However, these spunky dogs are capable of doing more than lounging around all day. They are full of life and energy and are known for their high intellect and fun-loving personalities.
How much does a Maltese cost? While breeders with low standards may charge as little as $600, for a pet-quality Maltese, you can generally expect to pay about $2,500 for a male and more than $3,000 for a female. Show-quality dogs and those with breeding rights are often well over $4,000.
Many people are shocked when they discover how much a dog of this size can cost. Are they really worth that much? Well, Maltese owners and lovers of the breed certainly think so.
Keep reading to discover the factors that account for the steep prices, learn how to identify a quality breeder while steering clear of second-rate choices, and where to look to find the best breeders near you or to locate a rescued Maltese up for adoption.
Actual Maltese Prices
It’s always helpful to have a rough idea of what breeders typically charge before you schedule a visit. Here’s a look at actual prices for Maltese puppies from real breeders. Note that the prices listed are for pet-quality puppies only.
|Stone Ridge Maltese||Pennsylvania||$2,500+||$3,500+|
|Avante Maltese||Utah||$2,500 -$3,000||$3,500 – $4,000|
What Impacts the Price of Maltese Dogs?
As you can see, Maltese dogs are not exactly cheap if they are purchased from a reputable breeder who adheres to the American Maltese Association’s breeder’s guidelines and strives to only produce puppies that conform to the breed standard.
Of course, with a bit of digging you could probably find Maltese puppies at a lower price, but will you be sacrificing quality? Yes, most likely. Are the chances higher that you’ll wind up dealing with a host of health and/or temperament issues? Yes. Is it worth purchasing a puppy at a bargain price? No, not usually.
So, why are these little dogs so pricey? Let’s examine some of the factors that account for the high price tag often placed on Maltese puppies.
Pet or Show Quality
The majority of Maltese dogs are sold strictly as pets and will therefore only have limited registration. Limited registration is given to puppies who aren’t quite breeding quality and means that while the puppy himself is registered, any offspring produced are not eligible for registration.
Dogs with limited registration may not compete in breed conformation events but may participate in many other contests such as agility and obedience.
If you’re looking to enter the world of dog conformation shows and breeding programs, you’ll need a Maltese with full registration. As you can imagine, puppies with full registration will cost quite a bit more.
Expect to pay somewhere between $4,000 – $10,000 (or more) for a show-quality Maltese.
A dog’s pedigree is simply a record of his family and includes information such as registration numbers and titles earned in the show ring. Puppies out of champion bloodlines with many ancestors with a long list of winnings will typically be more expensive.
Know that a puppy without a string of show titles attached to his family tree isn’t necessarily of inferior quality. It may simply indicate that the breeder is more focused on his or her breeding program than frequently making an appearance in the show circuit.
Reputation and Experience of the Breeder
A Maltese breeder whose focus is not only to maintain breed standards and produce robust puppies with excellent conformation but also to improve the breed by diligently working to eliminate genetic health issues will have a sterling reputation and will be justified in charging more for the puppies.
Remember, when you buy from a well-reputed breeder, you are reaping the rewards of the time, effort, and experience of expertise. The associated higher cost is usually worth it.
If possible, get in touch with some of the breeder’s previous customers to learn of their overall experience and satisfaction with both the breeder and the purchased puppy.
Males Versus Females
You’ll soon discover that male Maltese puppies are often less expensive than their female counterparts. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that more people are interested in purchasing females, possibly to avoid dealing with marking and mounting behavior commonly seen in maturing male dogs.
Secondly, Maltese typically only have two to five puppies per litter with little boys usually outnumbering their sisters. The breeder will sometimes keep one of the females for future breeding and wind up with several male pups to sell but maybe only one female, if that.
What to Look for in a Quality Maltese Breeder
Quality breeders should be friendly and professional in every way. They will raise the puppies indoors alongside their families and will already have begun the socialization process. Some breeders will go a step further and begin teaching the pups where to (and not to) go potty.
Breeders of a high caliber will maintain clean, odor-free facilities and will gladly introduce you to the parents of the litter if both are on site.
Quality breeders will have a reputation that precedes them. They will be willing to spend time with you educating you on the Maltese breed and answering any questions that you may have. They should also have questions for you to determine if a Maltese is compatible with your lifestyle.
Responsible breeders will have proof of genetic and health tests such as documentation from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) declaring the parent dogs to be free from cardiac disorders, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease, and other hereditary conditions.
Quality breeders will be members in good standing of the American Maltese Association and their puppies will be sent home with a certificate of health from a licensed veterinarian and a signed contract to protect the breeder, the buyer, and the puppy.
Be On the Lookout for These Common Red Flags
It’s usually best to steer clear of breeders with extremely low prices and those who are unwilling to allow you to visit their home where the puppies are raised. Other red flags to be aware of include:
- A general lack of sanitation.
- Unfriendly or aggressive dogs are present.
- Dogs and puppies look underfed or not well cared for.
- Lack of paperwork for the sale and no contract to sign stating the buyer’s responsibilities.
- Hesitance to share genetic and health test results or breeder does not test at all.
If any of the above conditions are noted, walk away from the sale and find a breeder of better quality. Buying from any breeder who does not put the puppies’ health and well being first will only encourage the breeder to continue in his substandard practices.
How to Find Reputable Maltese Breeders
The American Maltese Association provides a list of responsible Maltese breeders and is an excellent place to start your search. The American Kennel Club’s Marketplace lists available Maltese litters from AKC registered parents.
You might also want to try PuppySpot or social media giants like Facebook for breeder recommendations.
Looking to Adopt a Maltese?
The American Maltese Association runs a non-profit rescue organization dedicated to placing neglected, abused, or abandoned Maltese in loving, forever homes. Maltese Maniac has a list of Maltese rescues organized by region.
Other sites to check with for Maltese dogs who are up for adoption include: