People with a Maltese in their purse are carrying a secret weapon; I’m quite bold and have a temper. I bond closely with family, and if not well trained and socialized, I may bark at and even bite interlopers, including other dogs. When not in fighting mode, I’m a gentle lap dog who loves to frolic. I get along with children but can be easily hurt—I’m not a stuffed animal!

I’m great for apartments and new dog owners, but being alone can make me anxious and destructive. Luckily I’m easy to train. I have a high energy level, but with my diminutive stature a quick walk or indoor game will keep me settled.

A true pocket dog, I weigh only 4 to 7 pounds and stand 9 or 10 inches tall. My coat is long, silky, and white—and does need extra care to keep it smooth and clean. It naturally drags on the ground and can be trimmed. I don’t shed much but get dirty quite easily; baths should be a weekly regimen. I should be combed daily to avoid tangling and mats, and my ears should be checked regularly for infection. Regularly cleaning my eyes and beard will avoid face stains.

With proper care and diet I’ll be hamming it up and begging for treats for 12 to 14 years. I am prone to a number of health issues, including kneecap luxation, hypoglycemia, hydrocephalus, open fontanelle (skull soft spot), and eye problems. Deafness and white shaker dog syndrome (tremors) are lesson common concerns.