Maltese vs. Shih Tzu

What's the Difference?

Maltese and Shih Tzu are both small dog breeds that are known for their adorable appearance and affectionate nature. However, there are some differences between the two. Maltese have a silky, white coat that requires regular grooming to keep it looking its best, while Shih Tzu have a longer, dense coat that often comes in various colors. In terms of temperament, Maltese are known to be lively, playful, and fearless, while Shih Tzu are generally more relaxed, friendly, and independent. Both breeds make great companions and are well-suited for families or individuals looking for a small, loving pet.


Photo by dole777 on Unsplash
AttributeMalteseShih Tzu
Weight4-7 pounds9-16 pounds
CoatLong, silky, whiteLong, dense, various colors
TemperamentGentle, affectionate, playfulOutgoing, friendly, alert
Life Expectancy12-15 years10-16 years
Exercise NeedsLowLow to moderate
Health IssuesPatellar Luxation, White Dog Shaker SyndromeBrachycephalic Airway Syndrome, Eye problems
Shih Tzu
Photo by Edson Torres on Unsplash

Further Detail


When it comes to choosing a small dog breed, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are popular choices among pet lovers. These adorable and affectionate companions have their own unique characteristics and qualities that make them stand out. In this article, we will delve into the attributes of both the Maltese and Shih Tzu breeds, exploring their appearance, temperament, grooming needs, trainability, and health considerations.


The Maltese and Shih Tzu may share a similar small size, but they have distinct differences in their appearance. The Maltese is known for its long, silky white coat that flows gracefully, giving it an elegant and regal appearance. They have a compact body, with a slightly rounded skull, expressive eyes, and a black button nose. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu has a luxurious double coat that comes in various colors and patterns. They have a sturdy build, a broad head with large dark eyes, and a short muzzle. While both breeds are undeniably adorable, their appearance varies significantly.


When it comes to temperament, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are known for their affectionate and friendly nature. The Maltese is a gentle and playful breed, often described as lively and spirited. They are known to be devoted to their owners and enjoy being the center of attention. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is renowned for its outgoing and friendly personality. They are generally good-natured, affectionate, and get along well with children and other pets. While both breeds are loving and sociable, the Shih Tzu may be slightly more outgoing and extroverted compared to the Maltese.

Grooming Needs

When it comes to grooming, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu require regular maintenance due to their long and luxurious coats. The Maltese coat is prone to matting and tangling, so daily brushing is essential to keep it in good condition. Regular bathing, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing are also necessary to maintain their overall hygiene. Similarly, the Shih Tzu's coat requires daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats. They also need regular bathing, ear cleaning, and eye care to keep their facial folds clean and free from infections. Both breeds may require professional grooming every few weeks to keep their coats looking their best.


When it comes to trainability, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu can be a bit stubborn at times, making training a challenge. The Maltese, although intelligent, can have an independent streak and may require consistent and patient training methods. Positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, work well with this breed. Similarly, the Shih Tzu can be a bit headstrong and may need a firm yet gentle approach during training sessions. They respond well to rewards and positive reinforcement. Early socialization and consistent training from a young age are crucial for both breeds to ensure they grow up to be well-behaved and obedient companions.

Health Considerations

When it comes to health, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are generally healthy breeds. However, they are prone to certain breed-specific health issues that potential owners should be aware of. The Maltese can be susceptible to dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease, due to their small mouths and crowded teeth. They may also experience respiratory issues, luxating patellas, and eye problems. On the other hand, the Shih Tzu is prone to various health conditions, including brachycephalic airway syndrome, eye problems, hip dysplasia, and allergies. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise are essential for maintaining the overall health and well-being of both breeds.


In conclusion, both the Maltese and Shih Tzu are wonderful small dog breeds that bring joy and companionship to their owners. While they share some similarities in terms of their affectionate nature and grooming needs, they also have distinct differences in appearance, temperament, trainability, and health considerations. Potential owners should carefully consider these attributes and choose the breed that aligns best with their lifestyle and preferences. Whether you opt for the elegant and regal Maltese or the outgoing and friendly Shih Tzu, both breeds have the potential to become cherished members of your family.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.