Maltese vs. Shih Tzu: 8 Key Differences Compared!

Are you torn between getting a Maltese or a Shih Tzu? These two dog breeds, popular among pet lovers, have unique charms. The Maltese, known for its long, silky white coat, adds sophistication to its small size and elegant appearance. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is a sturdy and affectionate toy breed with a flowing double coat, perfect for cuddling.

Maltese dogs, beloved toy breeds, thrive on human companionship. They are sought after by responsible breeders as great pets for families with small children. Shih Tzus, friendly and pleasant doodles, are popular among dog enthusiasts.

Whether you’re considering adding a Maltese or a Shih Tzu to your family, thoroughly research both breeds. In this guide, we’ll delve into the characteristics of these charming pets and help you make an informed decision. So let’s dive in and discover more about these delightful breeds from responsible breeders!

Key differences between Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs

Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs, popular toy breeds, have some notable differences that set them apart. They are suitable for small children and can adapt well to apartments. Additionally, they require time for proper care and attention. Teacup Shih Tzus


  • Maltese are smaller, weighing around 4-7 pounds.
  • On the other hand, small dog breeds like the Maltese dog are slightly larger, tipping the scales at 9-16 pounds. The Maltese is a white dog that requires time and attention.

Coat texture

  • The coat of Maltese, a small dog breed known for its luxurious appearance, is straight and silky, making it perfect for owners who want a white dog.
  • In contrast, Maltese dogs, popular among dog lovers, have a dense, wavy, or curly coat that adds to their charm.

These distinctions in size and coat texture contribute to the unique characteristics of these two dog breeds. While the Maltese’s petite size makes them an ideal choice for those looking for a small dog companion, the Shih Tzu’s larger frame offers more substance. Similarly, their distinct coats require different grooming techniques. A Maltese dog’s straight and silky coat demands regular brushing to prevent tangles and matting. On the other hand, Shih Tzus need more extensive grooming due to their dense hair that can easily become tangled if not properly cared for.

Comparing characteristics and temperaments of Maltese and Shih Tzu


  • Gentle, playful, and highly affectionate lap dogs known for their loyalty.
  • They are small dogs with silky white coats, their most common color.
  • Maltese dogs make excellent companions due to their loving nature and devotion to their owners.

Shih Tzu

  • Outgoing, friendly, and confident dog companions that enjoy being the center of attention.
  • The dog’s luxurious double coat comes in various colors, including black, white, gold, and combinations of these shades.
  • Shih Tzus, a dog breed, has a lively personality and thrives on human interaction.

When comparing the characteristics and temperaments of Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds, some distinct differences can be observed. The Maltese breed is well-known for its gentle nature. These lap dogs are playful and highly affectionate towards their owners. Their loyalty knows no bounds as they constantly seek to please those around them. With a small size and a silky white coat being the most common color seen in this breed, Maltese dogs are cherished for their adorable appearance. Teacup Shihtzu info

On the other hand, Shih Tzus are friendly companions with an outgoing personality. These dogs love being at the center of attention and exude confidence wherever they go. One of their most striking features is their luxurious double coat, which comes in colors like black, white, gold, or combinations thereof. Their unique appearances captivate everyone and add to their charm.

Training and Exercise Requirements for Maltese vs. Shih Tzu


  • Intelligent but can be stubborn
  • Require consistent positive reinforcement training methods
  • Need mental stimulation to prevent boredom

Shih Tzu:

  • Eager to please but may have an independent streak
  • Benefit from early socialization and obedience training
  • Regular exercise is essential for their well-being

Both the Maltese and Shih Tzu dog breeds have their unique requirements. The Maltese, although intelligent, can sometimes be stubborn. Therefore, consistent positive reinforcement training methods work best with this dog breed. Using rewards and praise will motivate them to learn new commands and tricks. Shih Tzu Breed Info

On the other hand, the Shih Tzu dog is eager to please but may display an independent streak at times. Early socialization is crucial for them to become well-rounded dog companions. Obedience training helps establish boundaries and ensures they understand basic dog commands.

While both dog breeds are small in size, they still need regular exercise to maintain their dog health. Providing them with opportunities for dog physical activity prevents dog weight gain and keeps their dog muscles toned. Daily walks or playtime in a secure area are ideal for meeting their dog’s exercise needs. Havanese vs. Shih Tzu

It’s important not to overlook mental stimulation for your dog as well. The Maltese and Shih Tzu benefit from engaging in activities that challenge their minds. Puzzle toys, interactive games, and obedience training sessions are excellent outlets for mental stimulation for your dog.

Health concerns in Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds


  • Prone to dental issues such as tooth decay
  • They may experience respiratory problems due to their small size

Shih Tzu:

  • Common health concerns in dogs include eye problems like cataracts or corneal ulcers.
  • Potential for hip dysplasia

There are several important considerations. Maltese dogs are prone to dental issues, specifically tooth decay. Their small size can also make them more susceptible to respiratory problems. On the other hand, Shih Tzus commonly face eye-related health concerns such as cataracts or corneal ulcers. They have a potential risk of developing hip dysplasia.

Regular dental care is crucial for Maltese dogs to prevent tooth decay and maintain good oral hygiene. This includes regular brushing and professional cleanings when necessary. It’s also important for owners to be mindful of their Maltese’s respiratory health, ensuring proper ventilation and avoiding extreme temperatures that could exacerbate breathing difficulties.

For Shih Tzus, regular dog eye examinations by a veterinarian are essential in detecting and managing potential dog eye problems early on. This breed should also receive routine check-ups for dog hip dysplasia as part of their overall dog healthcare plan. Shih Tzu Pups in NC

Grooming needs of Maltese vs. Shih Tzu dogs

If you’re considering getting a Maltese or a Shih Tzu as your furry companion, it’s important to understand their grooming needs. Both breeds require regular grooming to keep their coats healthy and beautiful. Let’s look at the specific grooming requirements for Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs.


  • Regular brushing is essential for Maltese dogs to prevent matting in their long hair.
  • Professional grooming may be required to maintain a dog’s coat’s health and appearance.

Shih Tzu

  • Daily brushing is necessary for Shih Tzus to keep their luxurious dog coats tangle-free and well-maintained.
  • Regular bathing is also important to ensure they stay clean and fresh.

Grooming is crucial in keeping Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs looking their best. While the specific needs may differ slightly, both breeds require regular attention to maintain their coat’s health and prevent any discomfort caused by matting or tangling. Shih Tzu Poodle Mix Puppies in NC

Whether you choose a Maltese or a Shih Tzu, it’s advisable to establish a routine that includes daily brushing sessions. This will help remove loose hair, prevent tangles from forming, and promote healthy hair growth. Occasional visits to a professional groomer can provide expert care for your dog’s coat, ensuring it stays in top condition.


In conclusion, when choosing between a Maltese and a Shih Tzu, it is important to consider their key differences in characteristics, temperaments, training and exercise requirements, health concerns, and grooming needs.

Maltese dogs are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, while Shih Tzus are often described as outgoing and friendly. Both breeds require regular training and exercise to keep them mentally stimulated and physically fit. However, Maltese dogs may be slightly easier to train than Shih Tzus.

Both breeds are prone to conditions such as dental and eye problems. Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for maintaining their well-being.

Grooming plays a significant role in caring for Maltese and Shih Tzu dogs. The Maltese breed requires daily brushing to prevent matting of their long white coat, while Shih Tzus need regular grooming sessions to maintain their luxurious fur.

To decide which breed is right for you, consider your lifestyle, living arrangements, and personal preferences. Spending time with both breeds is crucial before making a final choice.

Remember that owning any dog requires commitment and responsibility. Ensure you have the time, resources, and dedication to provide proper care for your chosen breed.

Choose the breed that best fits your lifestyle and personality – whether it’s the elegant Maltese or the charismatic Shih Tzu – both will bring joy and companionship into your life.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Maltese or Shih Tzu better suited for families with children?

Both breeds can be great companions for families with children. However, due to their small size, extra care should be taken when interacting with these dogs around young children.

Do Maltese or Shih Tzu dogs require a lot of exercise?

While both breeds need regular exercise, Maltese dogs generally require less physical activity than Shih Tzus. Short walks and interactive playtime can help keep them happy and healthy.

Are Maltese or Shih Tzu more prone to allergies?

Both breeds can be susceptible to allergies, but Shih Tzus are known to have a higher tendency towards skin allergies. Regular grooming and proper nutrition can help manage these concerns.

Which breed is easier to train – Maltese or Shih Tzu?

Maltese dogs tend to be slightly easier to train compared to Shih Tzus. Consistent positive reinforcement methods and patience are key when training either breed.

Can Maltese or Shih Tzu dogs live in apartments?

Both breeds can adapt well to apartment living as long as they receive regular exercise and mental stimulation. However, it’s important to consider noise levels and potential interactions with neighbors.