Are Maltese Aggressive?

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Let’s talk about Maltese aggressive behavior.

Although these fluff balls may look like they couldn’t harm a fly, Maltese dogs can certainly display aggression in some situations.

Here are the warning signs you need to watch out for.

maltese aggressive

Are Maltese dogs snappy?

There’s a common misconception that Maltese dogs are snappy or aggressive due to their small size.

This stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth.

In reality, these dogs are known for being gentle, affectionate, and good with children, although they don’t respond as well to rough or boisterous play.

Understanding your dog’s body language and respecting their boundaries is crucial in creating a positive relationship with a Maltese or any other dog for that matter.

If they’re growling, snarling, showing teeth, or avoiding eye contact, they may be indicating that they’re uncomfortable or feeling threatened.

Are Maltese territorial?

Despite being tiny dogs, Maltese can be quite territorial.

They may bark or show aggression when someone enters their territory or gets too close to any items they consider to be theirs (in our case, it was the dog bed).

However, these aggressive tendencies can be managed through proper socialization and training.

Additionally, teaching basic commands like sit, stay, and leave it can help instill good manners and give you more control over your dog’s actions in various settings.

Why is my Maltese aggressive all of a sudden?

There are several potential reasons why your Maltese may suddenly be displaying aggressive behavior.

Changes in environment or routine

Has there been a new addition to the household, such as another pet or family member? If so, that may trigger territorial instincts in your dog, leading to an aggressive reaction.

Similarly, any major changes in their environment (like moving to a new home) could also contribute to sudden aggression.

Trauma or negative experiences

When dogs feel anxious or scared, they may respond with aggression as a defense mechanism.

For example, if your Maltese was recently attacked or bitten by another dog, they may become aggressive towards animals in general in order to protect themselves.

Pain or illness

Some dogs tend to become overly aggressive when they’re in pain or feeling unwell.

Be sure to rule out any underlying health problems like hypothyroidism or arthritis that may be causing your Maltese discomfort and leading to aggression.

How to train an aggressive Maltese

In some cases, training an aggressive Maltese requires more than just socializing and basic obedience training.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • First and foremost, keep in mind that aggression should never be addressed with punishment or harsh corrective measures. Instead, focus on positive reinforcement and reward-based training methods.
  • Maltese dogs may be pint-sized, but they still have the same need for structure and boundaries as their larger counterparts. Don’t allow them to get away with behaviors that you wouldn’t tolerate from a bigger dog.
  • Gradually expose your Maltese to situations that would typically trigger their territorial behavior, such as having visitors come over or encountering unfamiliar dogs, and reward them for remaining calm.
  • Unless you absolutely have to, don’t pick up or carry your Maltese when they’re around other dogs or people, as this can lead to them developing not only separation anxiety, but also dominance issues. 
  • If your Maltese becomes possessive over food or toy, instead of just taking it away from them, offer them something even better in exchange for it. This will redirect their focus and diffuse their aggressive behavior.
  • To reinforce your role as the pack leader and prevent resource-guarding behavior, ask your Maltese to perform simple tasks like sitting or lying down before receiving their meals or treats.
  • Introduce your Maltese to grooming from a young age or slowly desensitize them to the process if they’re older. Start with short sessions and increase the duration as they become more comfortable.
  • Aggression can sometimes get exacerbated by pent-up energy and boredom. Engage your Maltese in daily exercise routines, such as brisk walks or interactive play sessions, to help alleviate any built-up tension.
  • In case you’re struggling to manage your Maltese’s aggressive behavior or if it’s escalating, it may be time to reach out to a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who specializes in aggression.

In summary

While Maltese dogs are generally known for their sweet temperament, they can become aggressive, especially if not properly trained and socialized.

Consulting with a veterinarian or professional dog trainer can be highly beneficial when dealing with aggression issues as they can help identify the root cause and provide appropriate guidance.

About the author

Li-ran Bukovza

Li-ran believes that our dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He's fascinated by the dog-human bond and loves researching and writing about new pet trends. With the help of Richie (his trusty Maltese sidekick), he hopes to help as many people as possible understand the beautiful, complex world of canine companionship.