10 Dog Breeds Similar To the Maltese


The Maltese dog has a towering reputation for such a small animal. It is one of the most famous lapdogs. Furthermore, the AKC and other sources claim it has been so for more than two millennia, being a direct descendant of the stereotypical lapdog of the Roman world. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous dog breeds similar to the Maltese. Some are relatives. Others share popular characteristics.

Bichon Frise

1. Bichon Frise

There are several small white dogs related to the Maltese. The Bichon Frise is one of them. That said, it can have other coat colors, though that tends to be unappreciated. For those curious, the Bichon Frise Club of America says white is the one permissible color for this dog. Said standard allows buff, cream, and apricot on its coat, but having more than 10 percent is considered a fault. A Bichon Frise with a coat of a different color isn’t a Bichon Frise at all.

In any case, there are good reasons for the Bichon Frise’s popularity. It is as adorable-looking as its close relative, the Maltese. Better still, its personality is curious, cheerful, and affectionate. One potential issue is territoriality. Fortunately, the Bichon Frise isn’t prone to this unless it is encouraged by its owner. Still, proper training and socialization are always critical, meaning interested individuals should never skip out on those two things.

As for how the Bichon Frise came into existence, it seems to be a Spanish working dog turned into a French lap dog. Supposedly, it descends from the Poodle, thus explaining its resemblance to the latter. Besides that, the Bichon Frise also descends from either the Barbet or one of the water spaniels. Most modern dogs are related, meaning it is difficult to tell which are related to which.


2. Bolognese

Speaking of which, the Bolognese is another relative. That means it is also a small white dog. However, there are nonetheless differences between these dog breeds. To name an example, the Maltese and the Bichon Frise have silky coats. In contrast, the Bolognese has a woolly coat.

Sometimes, people claim the Bolognese to be hypoallergenic. It isn’t hard to see why these people claim that. Under normal circumstances, the Bolognese just doesn’t shed much. Unfortunately, two things prevent it from being a hypoallergenic dog. One, it still sheds some hair. Otherwise, its hair would grow and grow until it turns into a total furball, which is nowhere near as entertaining as it sounds. Two, Healthline points out there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. Less shedding does make for fewer irritants floating about. The problem is that irritation isn’t the same as an allergic reaction. Instead, allergic reactions happen when people’s immune systems panic when exposed to certain dog proteins. Every dog produces these proteins. The Bolognese is no exception.


3. Caltese

Designer dogs have become popular in recent decades. They are mixed-breed dogs descended from a couple of purebred dogs. Essentially, designer dogs are supposed to have the best characteristics of both sides of their heritage. Sometimes, this works out. Other times, not so much because they are less predictable than their purebred ancestors. Still, designer dogs make it easy to find dogs similar to a particular dog breed without being that particular dog breed.

Generally speaking, designer dogs have names cobbled together using components of their purebred ancestors’ names. It is easy to see where the second part of Caltese comes from. The same can’t be said for the first part. If people aren’t sure what the other dog breed might be, they should know the Caltese is sometimes called either the Cairmal or the Malticairn. That should be enough for them to figure out the other half of the Caltese is the Cairn Terrier.

Said dog is smart and stubborn. Thanks to that, it isn’t necessarily the best choice for a first-time dog owner, particularly since it will take charge if its human master can’t do so. Even so, the Cairn Terrier is a good-natured fellow that likes its human family members. The Caltese is an unpredictable mix of Maltese and Cairn Terrier characteristics. Chances are still good it will make a lovable companion so long as its owner meets its needs.

Coton du Tulear

4. Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear is associated with the island of Madagascar. Despite that, it is related to the Bichon Frise. As the story goes, sailors introduced the ancestors of the Bichon Frise to the Canary Islands. There, those dogs became the Tenerife. Subsequently, sailors introduced the Tenerife to Madagascar. There, it mated with local dogs, thus leading to the Coton de Tulear.

Amusingly, people have been known to tell tall tales about the Coton de Tulear. For instance, there are claims it was once a hunting dog capable of taking on boars and crocodiles. These claims are untrue. There are some dogs capable of taking on those animals. However, it is no coincidence that they are much bigger than the diminutive Coton de Tulear. Instead, this dog is exactly what it looks like, which is to say, a companion dog. Originally, it was a companion dog to the ruling Merina tribe in Madagascar. Nowadays, it is a companion dog to a wider range of people than ever before.

On the whole, the Coton de Tulear is a wonderful pet. It is curious and clownish. Moreover, the Coton de Tulear is surprisingly adaptable, which should come as welcome news for people who aren’t sure whether the dog can thrive in their home or not.


5. Havanese

On a related note, the Havanese is a relative to the Coton de Tulear. Once again, it traces its roots to the Tenerife dog. In its case, sailors took the Tenerife dog to Cuba. There, the dog became the ancestor of the Blanquito de la Havana. In turn, dog enthusiasts bred the Blanquito de la Havana with Poodles and other dogs to create the Havanese. Nowadays, those two ancestors are no longer around. The Havanese dog is still going strong.

Some people give their Havanese a shorter haircut. Others prefer something longer, particularly since the Havanese is a warm-weather dog that fares poorly when exposed to the cold. Personality-wise, the Havanese is a pleasant animal in most respects. Its primary issue is that it doesn’t handle loneliness well. Unfortunately, many of the dogs on this list are prone to separation anxiety when left on their own for long periods. Interested individuals should consider this when deciding what dog is the best fit for their lifestyle.

Japanese Spitz

6. Japanese Spitz

Spitzes have a very distinctive look. As a result, people should have no problem telling that the Japanese Spitz is a spitz. Unfortunately, they might have a problem telling the Japanese Spitz apart from several other spitzes of the same size and the same color. Indeed, AnimalCorner points out this dog isn’t considered a purebred dog by the AKC, which is connected to this issue.

In any case, the Japanese Spitz is similar to its relatives. It can do a decent job as a watchdog because it will bark when it sees strangers. Despite that, it is first and foremost a companion animal that craves human attention and affection. People should know the Japanese Spitz is on the active side of things. As a result, they need to be capable of satisfying that need if they get one of these animals. Otherwise, unhappy dogs tend to make for unhappy dog owners in short order.


7. Maltipoo

The Maltipoo is another designer dog. Naturally, it descends from the Maltese on one side. Meanwhile, it descends from the Poodle on the other side.

It isn’t hard to see why people would want a Maltipoo. The Poodle is one of the most popular dogs on the planet because it combines several desirable characteristics in a single dog. One, it is extremely intelligent. Some dogs beat it in this regard. Even so, Cesar’s Way says the Poodle has no problem making the top ten. Two, the Poodle is obedient in a way many other dogs aren’t. They were bred to take instructions. In contrast, many other smart dogs have characteristics that make them harder to train but better suited for their intended role. For instance, many shepherd dogs are smart but independent because of their need to make decisions without human input.

As always, people should be very careful when buying a designer dog. Such dogs can be wonderful companions. Still, the lack of a universal standard plus the strong demand from an eager public means unscrupulous dog breeders are producing Maltipoos. Some caution will serve interested individuals very well when evaluating places to buy one of these dogs.

Mini Poodle

8. Miniature Poodle

On a related note, Miniature Poodles are also similar to the Maltese. Interested individuals should know that Miniature Poodles aren’t new dogs created to take advantage of the fad for miniaturized dogs. Instead, they are widely acknowledged because they have been around for quite some time. Out of the four varieties of Poodles, the Standard Poodle, the Miniature Poodle, and the Toy Poodle are recognized by every single one of the most notable authorities. In contrast, the Medium Poodle which is smaller than the Standard Poodle but bigger than the Miniature Poodle is still working towards the same kind of status.

Regardless, a Poodle is a Poodle. As a result, interested individuals can expect the Miniature Poodle to be a good-natured companion trained with relative ease. Their smaller size just makes them more convenient for people with more limited living space. Miniature Poodles are still active dogs. That means they still need regular exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and healthy. If they don’t get those things, even Poodles can lash out.

Miniature Samoyed

9. Miniature Samoyed

The Miniature Samoyed is a much more complicated label. In short, The Samoyed says there is no such dog. However, there is a demand for such dogs because of people who are concerned about the size of the true Samoyed.

As a result, there are a couple of potential scenarios when someone markets their dogs as Miniature Samoyeds. One, they have bred a Samoyed with a smaller dog, thus resulting in a smaller, Samoyed-looking dog that is nonetheless not a Samoyed. There shouldn’t be any health issues in this scenario. Instead, people should watch out for excessively high prices charged by people trying to capitalize on the dog breed’s name. Two, various health issues can cause a dog to be smaller than normal. Getting one of these dogs isn’t an issue so long as people understand what they are getting. Smaller than normal dogs are perfectly capable of being fine pets. The problem is when people get tricked into paying high prices for an animal that could very well have higher chances of experiencing medical problems down the road.

Due to this, people should always be careful when they are offered a dog belonging to a dog breed that technically doesn’t exist. There is nothing wrong with owning a purebred dog. Many people would even say it is a good thing. Seeing a dog marketed that way should still be considered a warning sign.


10. Pomeranian

Pomeranians are named for a historical region now split between modern Germany and modern Poland. They descend from German Spitzes and other spitzes of greater size. As such, people sometimes call Pomeranians the Dwarf Spitzes.

Of course, that doesn’t make the Pomeranian less popular. If anything, the dog breed has benefited from the modern demand for conveniently small canine companions. Pomeranians also benefit from being lively animals, thus making them very fun to be around. People should know these dogs can become aggressive if they fail to provide training and socialization. A poorly behaved Pomeranian might be too small to be dangerous, but it is more than capable of being an annoyance.

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