Maltese vs. Shih Tzu (All You Need to Know)

Choosing between a Maltese and a Shih Tzu can be a difficult decision. Both breeds offer unique and adorable characteristics. Moreover, they tend to have that cuteness in them that makes you want to take them home. Of course, you probably need only pick one. For this reason, we made a head-to-head comparison of these two cute lap dog breeds. Hopefully, this article will help you decide which puppy suits your preference the most.

In this article, we’ll tackle many aspects to see which one is better for you. 

This information will help you narrow down your options and decide which one you’ll get.

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu General Information

MalteseShih Tzu
Breed TypePurebredPurebred
Lifespan12-15 Years10-15 Years
Weight4-9 Pounds9-16 Pounds
Height8-10 Inches9-10 Inches
FriendlinessVery GoodVery Good
Living EnvironmentApartment/IndoorsApartment/Indoors
BarksBelow AverageBelow Average
EnergyHigh Medium
Required ExerciseLowLow
AggressionVery LowBelow Average
CoatHigh MaintenanceMedium Maintenance

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Now, let’s get into it more.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Lifespan

When it comes to lifespan, both Maltese and Shih Tzu are the same. Both lap dogs live on an average span of 10-15 years. The Maltese have a higher tendency to live longer since their shortest average life is 12 years. Still, it’s not that much of a difference.

Of course, the lifespan of your pet depends on many factors. Among these are the overall health, care, lifestyle, diet, and other things.

The lifespan of your pet will depend on how well you take care of it. As long as you care and give it the necessary attention and needs, you’ll have a great companion for many years.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Appearance and Size

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu offer that adorable look. Thus, they are both on the list of the best lap dogs around.

If you care about the appearance and adorable faces, you can’t go wrong with either of them.

Of course, while both pets share some similarities, they also have differences.

For instance, they both share the same height of 8-10 inches. Some Shih Tzu types can be a bit shorter in stature. However, the purebred has a general size of 9-10 inches.

It’s in the weight that they differ a bit more. Shih Tzus weigh almost double the Maltese. The latter weighs an average of 4-9 pounds. However, the former can weigh from 9-16 pounds.

Shih Tzus are weighing less than 9 pounds, are teacups and imperials. While they are cute, AKC doesn’t recognize them, such as purebred.

If you’re into heavier pets, the Shih Tzu is your choice. However, a lighter one would be the Maltese.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Diet

Maltese and Shih Tzu share almost similar dietary requirements. 

When it comes to food, both breeds need protein, carbohydrates, and a variety of vegetables and fruits as treats.

Thus, aside from dog food, you can feed either pet with chicken, meat, liver, and other protein sources. You can also offer veggies and fruits, but not that much.

Both Maltese and Shih Tzu also share in the amount of food they need to take.

During their puppy stage, the Maltese and Shih Tzu should eat 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of food per day. 

Since they will be a bit smaller than their usual size, they may need to eat in small amounts at least three to four times a day.

As they turn into adults, you can lessen the frequency to twice a day.

Of course, when it comes to diet, always ask a vet’s opinion on which food you can offer. This way, you can be confident your pet gets the right food and the proper amount.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Grooming

When it comes to grooming, the Maltese may need more effort than Shih Tzus. 

The Maltese breed requires a high effort and care in maintaining a beautiful coat. On the other hand, a Shih Tzu needs maintenance, but not as much as the former.

Another reason is that the Maltese have a bit of shedding. Although it’s not that much, it may need constant grooming and attention.

Shih Tzus don’t shed, but their coats may need constant trimming. Their coats grow continuously like our hair. Thus, leaving this part unattended may hinder proper movement and sight.

If you don’t mind putting a bit more effort into grooming your pet, you can go for a Maltese.  However, with Shih Tzus, you can play more with your pet rather than groom it.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Shedding

As I said earlier, the Maltese breed sheds a bit now and then. On the other hand, the Shih Tzus don’t. If you’re not a fan of shedding, the latter may be an excellent option for you.

Still, unlike other breeds, the Maltese sheds only a little bit. Further, while Shih Tzus don’t do such, they still need constant grooming due to their coat’s continuous growth.

Of course, if you’re not into coats messing up all around the house, the Shih Tzu won’t put you down.

If you don’t mind a bit of shedding, nothing is wrong with taking a Maltese home.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Temperament

The Maltese breed is famous for being lively, friendly, loving, and calm towards its owners. The same thing goes with Shih Tzus.

When it comes to temperament, the only difference is that the Maltese can be a bit timid than Shih Tzus around strangers.

Thus, it would be best to get its attention if you own a Maltese, especially if you have a visitor.

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are a bit more peaceful than Maltese. Thus, you can expect to deal with strangers a bit better.

maltese and shih tzu compared

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Intelligence

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are intelligent dogs. However, the former may fall a bit shorter in this aspect.

Of course, like all other breeds, the intelligence may vary in each dog. For this reason, the levels need to get tested should you ever want to know such for your pet.

Both breeds may not be that intelligent compared to the others. However, they can still learn and follow basic commands.

When it comes to this aspect, it would be best to start them off while they are young. Offer some games and toys that will help them stimulate their minds and bodies.

This way, you can train these pets to learn many things and improve their intelligence capabilities.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Environment and Family

Both the Maltese breeds and Shih Tzus share similar preferences when it comes to the living environment. 

Since they are both lap dogs, they prefer to stay indoors, and they aren’t the type to run in the yard. For this reason, they are ideal pets if you live in an apartment or the city. Moreover, they don’t need large yards to play. A small room would be plenty enough for both dogs.

Maltese likes skinship and cuddling. They are at their most affectionate state with their owners. Thus, they would always love to play and spend time with you.

The same attitude gets expressed by Shih Tzus. However, unlike the Maltese, they can be a bit stubborn and jealous. Thus, they may show a bit of aggressiveness.

Still, they remain the cute and adorable lap dogs as long as they receive the attention and love they need.

Both pets can also play well with kids and adults. However, they are too delicate pets. While kids are safe with them, they aren’t safe with kids. 

Thus, always make sure that your pet and kid have someone watching them as they play together.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Training

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds can do well when it comes to training. 

Since they are intelligent little dogs, they can learn the basic commands you can give. Of course, this only applies when they receive consistent and patient training.

As I said, Shih Tzus can be a bit stubborn. Thus, the Maltese remains to be easier to train. 

When training either of these two dogs, it would be best to start at an early age. It would also take a long time to potty train both pets. 

In general, you may need a few weeks or more to train your pet around the house thoroughly.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Exercise

Both dogs are quite active, and they need daily walks to stay in their best physical health. 

Further, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu need playtime to keep their minds and bodies stimulated. 

Since both dogs are small, they can get tired quickly after long walks. If your pet shows signs of tiredness and unwillingness to walk anymore, it would be best to carry it home.

Getting a carrying tool for your pet can come in handy during such situations.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Barking

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu aren’t barkers. Thus, you can be confident that your place wouldn’t be noisy if you take home either of these two.

Moreover, these pets are ideal if you’re living in an apartment or in any place where you have neighbors who want a quiet atmosphere.

Of course, since they are dogs, they can bark from time to time. However, lapdogs like these two usually bark when they think they don’t receive the attention they need.

For this reason, a quiet Maltese or Shih Tzu means their owner pays them the attention they need.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Health

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are healthy dog breeds with a long life span. Thus, as long as you give proper care, nutrition, and attention, you can’t go wrong with either of these two.

Still, like other breeds, both dogs are prone to health complications. 

For instance, both breeds are prone to suffering from eye problems. The root cause of such issues is the hair that falls on their faces. 

This issue is preventable by always ensuring that the facial hair doesn’t obscure their eyes.

Shih Tzus are prone to joint problems as well. Since they are heavier, they may have issues with their joints. Since Maltese dogs are lighter, they don’t tend to suffer from such.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu Price

The Maltese would usually cost more than that of a Shih Tzu. 

An average Shih Tzu puppy would cost about $500, while a Maltese can cost $1000. 

The price difference is a bit lower. Since Shih Tzus are more popular, they are more in demand than the Maltese.

Moreover, since Shih Tzus are more comfortable to acquire, they may cost cheaper. Shih Tzus are also larger, and they are easier to breed due to such a factor.

If you’re going for a less pricey option, a Shih Tzu is ideal for you.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu FAQ

Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding Shih Tzus and Maltese. Take a look and see if you can find something handy and useful.

Is a Maltese a Shih Tzu?

No, a Maltese isn’t a Shih Tzu. Both dogs are two different breeds with differences that set them apart from each other.

At a glance, a newbie in the dog world may think they’re the same. However, these two dogs are purebreds of different kinds.

Of course, they are both lap dogs, and they offer that cute and adorable look. However, that’s where their similarities end.

Another thing is that they can mix to form a Maltese and Shih Tzu in one.

What is a Shih Tzu mixed with Maltese?

A Shih Tzu mixed with a Maltese is a mixed breed dog called Maltese Shih Tzu. This hybrid dog goes by many names. Among the titles are:

  • Mal-Shi
  • Malti zi
  • Malt-zu

A Maltese Shih Tzu dog inherits many features from both parents. Thus, these puppies are a combination of two of the most famous lap dogs.

If you like both breeds, a Maltese Shih Tzu stands as an excellent option for you to take home.

These dogs are famous for being small but fierce and loyal. They inherited many of the best qualities of both parents.

Thus, you can’t go wrong with choosing this crossbreed.

Which is cuter – Maltese or Shih Tzu?

The question of which is cuter and adorable depends on the preference of the owner. Of course, both pets are cute and adorable lapdogs. Still, some people prefer one over the other.

Both dogs have cute and hairy faces. Further, they are also tiny and fall nothing short of toy dogs. Thus, when it comes to cuteness, you can’t go wrong with either of these two.

Maltese vs. Shih Tzu – What breed is right for you? 

Choosing between a Shih Tzu and a Maltese can be a difficult decision. Since both breeds have their unique and adorable qualities, it is indeed something you need to think through.

Of course, choosing the breed depends on your preference. Thus, my advice is to list down your preferences before comparing both species. This way, you’ll narrow down the choices.

The Maltese are best for pet lovers who don’t mind a lively companion that’s a bit timid when dealing with strangers. Moreover, they are lighter, making them ideal lapdogs for people who don’t want a heavy pet.

Shih Tzus are ideal for pet lovers who don’t want too much noise and prefer a quiet pet. Further, Shih Tzus can be double the weight of a Maltese. Thus, it’s perfect for those who want a bigger pet. Still, there are Shih Tzu types with small sizes so that you can go for such puppies nonetheless.

If you’re still torn between the two breeds, going for a mix of both is your best option. A Maltese Shih Tzu puppy shares many features from both species. Thus, taking home such would be like taking both dogs in a single body.

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