Although the term “teacup” is not recognized by the American Kennel Club (www.dog-names.org.uk/teacup-dogs-puppies.htm), the dog popularly known as Teacup Maltese really is small enough to fit into a teacup when it’s a puppy, and full-grown Maltese have been lapdogs for centuries. Maltese dogs are tiny, affectionate, clever and brave. They have silky white fur that doesn’t shed much, making them good pets for people with allergies, and their size (4-6 pounds) is ideal for apartments and small homes. This breed of dog requires some special care and training.
Make sure your puppy is at least 8 weeks old when you buy it. An 8-week-old Maltese puppy should be at least 1½ pounds and frisky and energetic with clear eyes and strong breathing.
Protect your Maltese from extreme weather and damp. These dogs are prone to respiratory problems and chill easily. They also can get sunburned where their hair parts, and are often uncomfortable in very hot weather.
Brush your Maltese daily, and have her hair cut regularly. A Maltese in a dog show should have hair that touches the ground, but many owners keep their dogs trimmed short for comfort and ease of care. The hair on the top of their heads is often tied into a topknot with a rubber band to keep the eyes clear.
Check your dog for fleas and ticks while brushing it, and give it monthly topical flea repellent.
Clean the Maltese’s eyes and mouth daily to prevent its hair from getting stained. With a soft, damp cloth, wipe any discharge from its eyes and wipe around its mouth after eating.
Shampoo your dog every few weeks, and make sure to keep it warm when you take it out of the bath. After bathing, clean the insides of her ears. Gently remove any hair from the ear canals, and clean the area around the ear canals with a wet or oil-soaked cotton ball.
Feed your dog good-quality dog food with a high-meat content. Give her dry food to prevent tartar buildup. Avoid giving table scraps, because they may upset the dog’s sensitive stomach.
Have your dog’s teeth cleaned regularly. Gum disease and tooth decay is quite common in Maltese dogs, so you should check her mouth monthly for any problems. Dogs with healthy, clean teeth live longer, happier lives.
Take your Maltese out for a walk at least once a day for exercise. Don’t leave the dog home alone for long periods or she’ll become nervous, yappy and destructive.
Housebreak your dog by paper-training it first. These dogs can be difficult to house train, so getting it to go outside might be difficult at first, especially if it’s very hot or cold.
Stop your dog from doing any dominant or aggressive behavior, no matter how cute or funny it is. This includes jumping up, pulling the leash, growling and snarling, and excessive barking. Small dogs can become overly protective and even snappy if allowed to dominate the household too much.