Bichon vs. Maltese

What's the Difference?

Bichon and Maltese are both small dog breeds that are known for their adorable appearance and friendly nature. However, there are some differences between the two. Bichon Frise has a slightly larger size compared to the Maltese, with a more rounded body and a distinctive curly coat. On the other hand, Maltese dogs have a smaller frame, a straight silky coat, and a more elegant and refined appearance. In terms of temperament, both breeds are affectionate, playful, and great companions, but Bichon Frise tends to be more outgoing and sociable, while Maltese can be a bit more reserved and cautious around strangers. Overall, both Bichon and Maltese make wonderful pets for those looking for a small, loving, and low-shedding dog.


Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on Unsplash
Weight7-12 pounds4-7 pounds
CoatCurly and denseLong, silky, and straight
TemperamentPlayful, AffectionateGentle, Sweet-natured
Life Span12-15 years12-15 years
Exercise NeedsModerateLow
TrainabilityIntelligent, Easy to trainIntelligent, Easy to train
Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to small dog breeds, the Bichon and Maltese are two popular choices among dog lovers. Both breeds are known for their adorable appearance, friendly nature, and suitability for apartment living. However, there are several distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics, temperament, grooming needs, trainability, and health considerations of both the Bichon and Maltese, helping you make an informed decision if you are considering adding one of these delightful companions to your family.


The Bichon and Maltese share some similarities in terms of their physical characteristics. Both breeds are small in size, typically weighing between 4 to 7 pounds. They have a compact body, a fluffy coat, and expressive eyes that melt hearts. However, there are notable differences in their appearance. The Bichon has a rounder face with a shorter muzzle, while the Maltese has a more elongated face with a longer muzzle. Additionally, the Bichon's coat is curly and dense, while the Maltese has a straight, silky, and flowing coat.

When it comes to color, the Bichon is predominantly white, although it may have some patches of cream, apricot, or gray. On the other hand, the Maltese is always white, with no other color variations. Both breeds have a plumed tail that rests gracefully on their back, adding to their overall elegance.


Both the Bichon and Maltese are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent companions for individuals and families alike. They thrive on human interaction and are generally good with children and other pets when properly socialized. However, there are slight differences in their temperaments.

The Bichon is often described as playful, outgoing, and lively. They have a natural charm and love to entertain their owners with their clownish antics. Bichons are generally more extroverted and may exhibit a higher energy level compared to the Maltese. On the other hand, the Maltese is known for its gentle and sweet disposition. They are often described as being more reserved and calm, making them a great choice for individuals seeking a lap dog that enjoys cuddling and relaxation.

It's important to note that individual personalities can vary within each breed, and proper socialization and training play a crucial role in shaping a dog's temperament.

Grooming Needs

Both the Bichon and Maltese have high grooming requirements due to their luxurious coats. Regular grooming is essential to keep their fur healthy and prevent matting. However, there are some differences in their grooming needs.

The Bichon's curly coat requires more frequent brushing to prevent tangles and matting. Many Bichon owners opt for professional grooming every 4 to 6 weeks to maintain their coat's appearance and manageability. Additionally, Bichons are prone to tear staining, so regular cleaning of the eye area is necessary.

On the other hand, the Maltese's silky coat requires daily brushing to prevent tangles and keep it looking its best. Some owners choose to keep their Maltese in a shorter "puppy cut" to reduce grooming time and maintenance. Tear staining is also common in Maltese, so regular cleaning and proper diet can help minimize this issue.

Both breeds require regular bathing, nail trimming, and dental care to ensure their overall hygiene and well-being.


When it comes to trainability, both the Bichon and Maltese are intelligent breeds that can learn quickly with positive reinforcement training methods. However, there are some differences in their trainability due to their individual characteristics.

Bichons are known for their eager-to-please attitude and love for attention, which can make them relatively easy to train. They are quick learners and often excel in obedience training and agility activities. However, Bichons can be sensitive to harsh training methods or excessive repetition, so a gentle and consistent approach is key to their success.

Maltese, on the other hand, can be a bit more independent and stubborn at times. They may require additional patience and consistency during training sessions. Early socialization and positive reinforcement are crucial to ensure a well-behaved and obedient Maltese.

Both breeds benefit from early training and socialization to prevent any potential behavior issues and to foster a strong bond with their owners.

Health Considerations

While both the Bichon and Maltese are generally healthy breeds, it's important to be aware of potential health concerns that are more prevalent in each breed.

Bichons are prone to certain genetic conditions, including allergies, dental problems, patellar luxation (knee dislocation), and certain eye diseases such as cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper dental care are essential to maintain their overall health.

Maltese, on the other hand, are more susceptible to dental issues, including tooth loss and gum disease. They are also prone to patellar luxation, as well as certain respiratory problems such as collapsed trachea. Regular dental care, weight management, and avoiding excessive strain on their delicate trachea are important for their well-being.

It's crucial to choose a reputable breeder who conducts health screenings on their breeding dogs to minimize the risk of inheriting any genetic health conditions.


Both the Bichon and Maltese are delightful small dog breeds that bring joy and companionship to their owners. While they share some similarities in terms of their size and friendly nature, there are distinct differences in their appearance, temperament, grooming needs, trainability, and health considerations. Understanding these attributes can help you make an informed decision when choosing the perfect breed for your lifestyle and preferences. Whether you opt for the playful and outgoing Bichon or the gentle and sweet Maltese, both breeds have the potential to become cherished members of your family, providing years of love and happiness.

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