Maltese puppy development, as it happens in several other toy breeds, follows a developmental pattern that is different compared to the development of several other large dog breeds.
There are therefore important things to keep into consideration before adopting a Maltese puppy.
Although small breed dogs are known for developing faster than larger breeds, and therefore, are expected to typically finish growing before their larger cousins, things may start a bit at a slow pace initially before they catch up.
Week-by-Week Maltese Puppy Development
When Maltese puppies are born, they tend to weigh on average 4 ounces. As every week goes by, the puppies should be gaining weight steadily.
Most of the growing in this breed will be accomplished in the first 6 months, with a few adjustments in weight and height occurring here and there until reaching 9 months.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, adult Maltese dogs are expected to weigh under 7 pounds, with the ideal weight being from 4 to 6 pounds preferred.
Maltese Puppy Development Chart
Below is just a roughly estimated week-by-week Maltese puppy development chart. Every puppy is different so there are no rules of thumb as long as the puppy is happy and healthy.
-At one week, Maltese puppies in general reach 6 ounces.
-At two weeks, the weight may reach 10 ounces.
-At three weeks, expect the puppy to reach around 12 ounces.
-At four weeks, Maltese puppies may reach 14 ounces.
-At five weeks, a Maltese puppy on average should weigh 16 ounces, that is 1 pound!
-At six weeks, Maltese puppies weight around 17 ounces.
-At seven weeks, Maltese puppies are close to 20 ounces.
-At eight weeks, expect them to be around 1 pound and a half.
-At nine weeks, they may be just around 1.8 pounds.
-At 10, Maltese puppies reach on average 2 pounds.
-At 11, they're just a little over 2 pounds.
-At 12 weeks, Maltese pups may weigh 2.5 to 3 pounds.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
As mentioned, Maltese puppies have a tendency to lag a bit behind when it comes to their development compared to other dogs.
Maltese puppy development indeed, is quite slow and the puppies tend to retain puppy traits for quite some time.
For sake of comparison, consider that, by the age for four weeks, large breed puppies are bouncing around playing with their littermates and starting to eat solid foods, while Maltese at this time are just barely able to walk and they are still dependent of mother's milk, and therefore, they're far from being weaned.
A little further down the road, the differences become even more relevant.
At 8 weeks, large breed puppies are equipped with milk teeth and are already enjoying kibble. By now, they are ready to leave their mom and littermates to establish in their new homes.
Maltese instead, at this time, are just starting to taste food and interacting with their littermates.
Because of these slower Maltese puppy development features, the American Maltese Association Code of Ethics requires that Maltese breeders keep their puppies in their possession up until at least 12 weeks of age.
Potty Training Challenges
A slower Maltese puppy development also means a slower potty training process. What does this mean for the prospective Maltese puppy owner? More work and more difficulties encountered in the house training department.
Owning a Maltese puppy before 12 weeks of age would mean more frequent trips outside during the day, at night and even in the wee hours of the morning, possibly in frigid, cold temperatures.
This is because Maltese as other toy breeds, have teeny bladders that can only hold that much. This is in addition to the fact that, Maltese puppies being so small, make it difficult for new puppy owners to notice when they squat behind a piece of furniture. With their messes being so tiny, it makes for more difficult cleanups.
On top of that, consider that puppies develop a substrate preference by the time they are 8 to about 8 weeks and a half. Knowledgeable breeders will help puppies develop a substrate preference.
Waiting an extra month, before taking a Maltese puppy home, can therefore make a world of difference for the new puppy owner considering the challenges associated with potty training an 8-week old Maltese puppy who has yet attained no bladder control.
Some Heath Considerations
Some Maltese breeders may breed for very small specimens and this may have some repercussions on their health.
Very small puppies may have difficulties regulating their blood sugar, which leads to plummeting blood sugar levels and the risks for the onset of convulsions and even death. The medical term for such low blood sugar is hypoglycemia.
Waiting as the puppy develops a bit more can be a plus health-wise considering that older puppies are weaned and eat regular meals which helps reduce the risks for low blood sugar considerably.
Teacup puppies are more predisposed to hypoglycemia, and some may have this problem all their life. Some breeders may wait to give away their puppies up to 4 months of age to ensure they are completely weaned and eat regularly.
On top of this, at 8 weeks of age, Maltese puppies on average weight anywhere between 1.5 to 2 pounds. Their very tiny sizes at this age make them prone to injuries.
Just falling off the couch or accidentally sitting on them, can easily cause substantial injuries and even death. Waiting an extra month, means the puppy will likely by then weigh 2.5 to 3 pounds which is quite a gain.
Mental Maltese Puppy Development
With a tiny body, comes a pea-sized brain, and therefore, Maltese puppies may not be ready to go to their new homes when they are still really young.
At 8 weeks, Maltese puppies are still learning important life lessons from their littermates and mom.
Puppies at these age are still learning the ABC's of bite inhibition. If they play too rough with a littermate, their littermate will squeal and withdraw from play.
Soon, the rough puppy learns, that, in order to play, he will have to play more gently and bite down less.
Other important lessons include learning how to be a dog. Puppies at this time, learn how to read body language and display proper social signals.
Between 8 and 10 weeks, puppies go through a fear stage. Going to a new home and new owners during this time may be traumatic for a small puppy that still needs to stay with his littermates and mom.
This is another good reason to wait for Maltese puppies to develop before going to their new homes.
A good Maltese breeder will socialize the puppies, start potty training them and get the puppies used to being groomed. Maltese dogs require lots of grooming to prevent their hair from growing mats and become untidy.
Groomers should take great care in teaching pups to accept baths, being brushed and having their nails trimmed.
The Bottom Line
As seen, Maltese puppy development is different compared to other dog breeds. Breeders trying to sell Maltese puppies at a younger age should raise a red flag.
It is certainly worth every penny buying from a reputable breeder and waiting an extra month so to bring home a puppy who has been given the opportunity to be better equipped physically and mentally to join his new family.