male or female?
Let's look at male dogs first
SPEAKING GENERALLY about male dogs...
- Male dogs tend to be more stable in mood than female dogs -- less prone to emotional swings.
- Some male dogs are bolder and more aggressive than females, while other males are "goofy" and "klutzy" -- "big softies" and "good ol' boys".
- Male dogs have genitals that are easy to see. When you roll them over to rub their belly, there's -- how shall I say this? -- "something in the way". Some owners feel self-conscious about that. Male dogs may also become aroused and/or lick their private parts, and again, some owners find this embarrassing, especially if Grandma happens to be visiting.
Right now let's look at female dogs
SPEAKING GENERALLY about female dogs...
- Females are more prone to mood swings and emotional theatrics. Females can be very sweet and loving when they're happy -- but grumpy if something isn't to their liking. Female dogs are experts at The Dirty Look and The Sulk.
- Female dogs are less likely than males to be openly defiant or to engage in blunt power struggles with you -- but they are opinionated and often manipulative.
- Female dogs squat to urinate, so they pee more neatly and unobtrusively than male dogs. Some dominant females, however, DO make a credible attempt to lift their leg -- these female dogs will often mark territory much like a male. If you own multiple dogs, a dominant female may scout around sniffing for places where the other dogs have peed, so she can "cover" it with her own scent.
how to choose a good puppy
Your first look should be at the litter as a group. If there are four puppies and three of them are running away or staying at arm's length or woofing suspiciously at you, I'm sorry to say your visit is over.
No, you shouldn't buy the fourth puppy. The chances are too great that shyness or distrustfulness is in his genes, too, and simply hasn't caught up to him yet.
And don't let a breeder laugh off his puppies' timidity with assurances of, "Oh, they just haven't been handled much." Lack of socialization means laziness or ignorance on the part of the breeder. You do not want a puppy from a lazy or ignorant breeder. If he can't even socialize properly, who knows what else he screwed up?
Puppies who tuck their tails or shrink away from you are not safe choices as pets. Don't try to convince yourself that you can "bring them out of their shell." You don't know what's going on in these puppies' genes. Shy puppies usually become shy dogs who may snap defensively when startled.
If the litter isn't running away, what should they be doing? Normal puppies are friendly, curious, trusting. They mill around your feet, tug at your shoelaces, crawl into your lap, nibble on your fingers.
After a while, they may stop playing with you and begin wrestling with one another. You can tell a lot about the individual puppies by the way they interact with their litter mates.
- Which ones are strong, outgoing, bossy, noisy?
- Which ones are quiet, submissive, gentle?
- Which ones grab all the toys and win the tugs-of-war?
- Which ones seem delicate or picked on?
Clap your hands gently, snap your fingers, jingle your car keys, shuffle your feet, whistle softly, cluck your tongue.
- Which pups are interested?
- Which ones come over to investigate?
- Which ones are apprehensive?
You want an alert and confident puppy. A nervous puppy who is afraid of sudden sounds or quick movements will not do well in a busy household. A puppy who is completely oblivious may be too dull, too independent, or unhealthy.
Evaluate individual puppies
Next, ask the breeder if you can see each puppy who is available for sale, individually. Ask him to remove the other pups.
You want to see how each puppy reacts when he is away from his litter mates. Sometimes a puppy who seems bold when his friends are "backing him up" will become uncertain or anxious on his own. Or sometimes an energetic puppy will calm down when not being egged on by the others; given your undivided attention, he may become quite the lap-sitter.
- What is his general expression and body language?
- Does he keep his tail up or mostly down?
- Is his tail wagging, even hesitantly?
- When you talk to him, does he look at your face?
- Does he cock his head and listen to you?
Puppies puppies are not churned out of a mold. The puppies from one breeder are NOT the same as those from another breeder -- even of the same breed. The knowledge and skill of the breeder -- first, when he selected the parents, and second, when he raised the puppies to the age where you get to see them -- has a tremendous bearing on how your puppy turns out.
Every puppy has a breeder
Some people will insist that they got their puppy from a private seller rather than a breeder.
They think that if they got their puppy from someone who had one litter and placed an ad in the newspaper, they're not buying from a breeder.
Or they think that if they got their puppy from a neighbor who says, "Our Molly recently had pups. Would you like one?"...They're not buying from a breeder.They're wrong.
A breeder is any person
who owns a female dog
who has a litter.
- Even if that person simply owned two pets who were bred together and the puppies advertised in the newspaper.
- Even if the breeding was accidental.
- Even if the father was a mutt down the street, so the puppies aren't even purebred.
is the BREEDER of her litter.so unless a puppy is actually born on the street to a homeless female who truly has no owner, every puppy (whether purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed) has a breeder.
In other words, SOMEBODY is the breeder of every puppy you're considering acquiring
Knowing now that every puppy has a breeder, the important question becomes:
Was the breeder responsible....or irresponsible?
Because there are really only TWO types of breeders:
1) responsible and knowledgeable
2) irresponsible and un knowledgeable
If you want a dog who......
- Is one of the smallest of all breeds
- Is one of the brightest and most playful of the toy breeds
- Is polite with people and other animals
- Has a long coat that doesn't shed (often a good choice for allergy sufferers)
A Maltese may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with.....
- The fragility of toy breeds (see below)
- "Separation anxiety" (destructiveness and barking) when left alone too much
- Suspiciousness or fearfulness when not socialized enough
- Notorious housebreaking difficulties
- Frequent brushing and combing
A Maltese may not be right for you.
My major concerns would be:
- Fragility. Too many people acquire a toy breed puppy without understanding how incredibly fragile a toy breed is. You can seriously injure or kill a Maltese by stepping on him or by sitting on him when he's curled under a blanket or pillow, where he frequently likes to sleep. And Maltese can seriously injure or kill THEMSELVES by leaping from your arms or off the back of your sofa. A larger dog can grab a Maltese and break his neck with one quick shake. Owning a toy breed means constant supervision and surveillance of what's going on around your tiny dog. Maltese must always be kept on-leash -- they are just too easy to injure when not under your complete control.
- Housebreaking problems. As a behavioral consultant, I would put the Maltese on my Top Five List of "Hard to Housebreak." Consistent crate training is mandatory. Sometimes a doggy door is necessary. And some owners never do get their Maltese fully housebroken
- Separation anxiety. More than most other breeds, Maltese need a great deal of companionship and do not like being left alone for more than a few hours. They tend to express their unhappiness through destructive chewing and barking. If you work all day, this is not the breed for you.
- Providing enough socializations. Standoffish by nature, Maltese need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution could become shyness or fearfulness, which are difficult to live with.
- Grooming. Without frequent brushing and combing, Maltese become a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy.
- Barking. Maltese are often too quick to sound the alarm at every new sight and sound. You have to be equally quick to stop them.
- Avoiding the hype. Have you heard these phrases? Teacup Maltese? Tiny Toy Maltese? Extreme Tinies? Some breeders use these cutesy phrases as "marketing terms" for the different weights that Maltese come in. All of these phrases are made-up. Yes, certainly, Maltese come in different weights, but they do NOT come in different weight "varieties". Whether they weigh 4 pounds or 6 pounds or 8 pounds, they are called, simply, Maltese. Some are simply smaller or larger than others. The larger individuals are sturdier, so don't dismiss them as good pets.
In fact, I do NOT recommend a Maltese under 4 pounds. These individuals are great risks in the health department. Their bones are extremely fragile. There is not enough room in their mouth for healthy teeth. Their internal organs are often weak and can fail suddenly. They tend to have great difficulty regulating their blood sugar and can suddenly fall into hypoglycemic comas.
Responsible Maltese breeders never try to produce these tiny high-risk creatures. If a tiny one pops up in one of their litters, they do their best to find the best home that can keep it alive, yes, but they try hard NOT to produce them in the first place because it's not fair to the poor little creature.
On the other hand, some breeders deliberately breed tiny high-risk Maltese because they can sell them for high prices to unsuspecting owners, or to owners who selfishly demand that they "want" one because it's "adorable" or to satisfy their "mothering" instincts. Don't be one of these people. If you reward these irresponsible breeders by giving them your money, you are encouraging them to keep producing tiny, sickly, short-lived creatures. No, be a responsible buyer and stick with Maltese who will mature at 4 pounds and up, who have the best chance of living a normal healthy life. In this way, breeders will be motivated to produce these sizes. (These individuals, by the way, will weigh at least 2-3 pounds at 10-12 weeks old.)
NOT ALL MALTESE ARE ALIKE!
- There are energetic Maltese, and placid Maltese.
- Hard-headed Maltese, and sweet-natured Maltese.
- Serious Maltese, and good-natured goofballs.
- Introverted Maltese, and Maltese who love everyone.
There are plenty of adult Maltese who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics. If you find such an adult, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you.