The Maltese have had an interesting historical background. Earlier known by the names like the “Roman Ladies Dog”, “Bichon” and the “Maltese Terrier”, this sophisticated breed is also known for its silky, straight, thick and white hair that covers their entire body and falling till the floor. They also used to come in different colors but are only found in white these days. The breed is also considered to be hypoallergenic because of lack of an undercoat. The breed however is an extremely devoted one, intelligent and charming. They are also one of the smallest toy breeds, perfect for condos. Despite the small size they are extremely alert and responsive and effective when it comes to being a watchdog.
They might look classy or high born but they are pretty energetic and are quick learners with the right training and rewards. As companion dogs they need a lot of attention and might get anxious if separated from the owner. In their initial years they shouldn’t ideally be left alone for a very long time. They might also be aversive of kids and other dogs. This attitude however makes them very protective of their owners if others seem as a threat to them. Such factors make their socialization and obedience training to be more careful.
Due to a shorter life span canines usually attract more attention when it comes to talking about life expectancy. The average life expectancy is up to 12 to 13 years or 12 year and 8 months precisely. Due to reasons such as size toy breeds live longer as compared to the larger dogs. However a few of them live longer than the average life span reaching the age of 15 to 17. Also female Maltese live longer lives on an average than their male counterparts.
Causes of Death of Maltese Dogs
According to a study conducted for over two decades by the University of Georgia that involved more than 75,000 dogs of different breeds has led to some results that determine what affects the life expectancy of the Maltese and other breeds. Some of them are as follows:
- Lack of proper care, nutrition, traumatic experiences, infections and congenital diseases. These reasons can be associated more with the younger ones.
- In case of the adult dogs Cardiovascular Disease can be seen as the most important cause of their death i.e. responsible for almost 25% deaths. Heart diseases and blockage of blood vessels is a part of the problem.
- Congenial Disease could be the second most important cause of their death. Responsible for almost 10% deaths congenial diseases include genetic disorders and other diseases such as swelling of the inside of the colon also known as Colitis, severe liver disorder such as Cirrhosis.
- Cancer – This is the 3rd most common cause of their deaths, acquiring almost the same percentage of deaths as by congenial diseases i.e. almost 10%. However for the older Maltese the chances of fatal cancer decline once they are 10 year old or more.
- Ageing: A lot of changes take place while ageing such as the slowing down of body’s movements. Changes also affect body’s usual functioning, such as organ’s functions, bone structure and other neural processes. Changes in eyesight, (loss in vision), hearing (lack of ability to distinguish between different sounds and noises), inability to detect smell, and decrease in saliva and taste are also a part of ageing. It also affects their regular bowel movements and weakening of bladder’s strength.
- There is also stiffening of the bones as it starts losing essential minerals. This further leads to a weaker skeletal structure.
- The thickening of arteries affecting the heart is also another factor related to their life expectancy.
- Loss of elasticity of the lungs is experienced at the age of 8 to 10 years which leads to breathing problems as well.
- Because of weaker structure of the nerve cells the older Maltese dogs can experience cognitive loss and impairment.
- As they age their heart thickens and extracting oxygen becomes difficult. The kidneys on the other hand become small and become dysfunctional.
Life expectancy and Care of the Maltese dogs
It is very important to keep this breed physically involved and energetic. Regular walks and games can play an important role in maintaining a longer and healthier life. With such habits they can stay in a good shape till the age of 10 also. Since they are active indoors because of their size and agility they don’t require hard exercises. Their initial growth months are very important.
Proper vaccination, regular visits to the local vet and proper care is of utmost importance. One must be careful with the proper functioning of their liver, heart and kidneys as well as a strong bone structure for enhanced life expectancy.