Skip to content

Maltese vs Bichon

A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Published on
Sunday 30 October 2022
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
Maltese vs Bichon
This page may contain affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links.

Are you thinking twice about whether or not you should choose Maltese over Bichon Frise or vice versa? It can be perplexing to compare Maltese vs. Bichon, but their characteristics and details differ more than their white coats and fluffy hairs.

Continue reading to know the difference between Maltese and Bichon dog breeds! 

Maltese vs. Bichon: Breed Comparison

Although they’re both fluffy and adorable, these two dog breeds have a lot of distinct features that most fur parents don’t know. Here are some of the notable differences between the Maltese vs. Bichon breeds.

Size6 to 8 lbs (weight); 8 to 10 inches (height)12 to 15 lbs (weight); 9.5 to 11 inches (height)
Physical TraitsToy-sized body, rounded head, black nose, alert and dark eyes, drooping ears, with silky white hair and thick and straight coatBlack nose and eyes, curved and well-plumed tail, thick double coats, tiny body, and white, pale yellow, or cream-colored fluffy hair 
TemperamentFearless, athletic, affectionate, stubborn at times, active, and devoted to ownersLoyal, alert, friendly, happy, gentle, loving, and with sudden bursts of energy
Breed HistoryTheir definite origin is unclear, but they came from 3500 B.C. when the Phoenicians introduced them to Malta.They came from Tenerife, the largest among the Canary Islands, in the 13th century.
Cost$2,000 to $4,000 for adoption; $560 to $2,025 for initial costs; $117 to $251 for monthly expenses$1,000 to $3,000 for adoption; $525 to $1,995 for initial costs; $117 to $251 for monthly expenses
GroomingDaily brushing, hair cut, teeth care, cleaning, nail clippingDaily brushing, frequent hair trimming, teeth care, cleaning, nail clipping
Lifespan12 years up to 17 years12 to 15 years
HealthCan suffer from several health issues, such as digestive problems, ocular diseases, knee joint issues, entropion, patellar luxation, dyskinesis, shaker syndrome, and hydrocephalusCan experience bladder stones, infections, kneecap dislocation, allergies, epilepsy, and lacrimal blockage
TrainabilityRequire more patience, perseverance, and thorough training to handle liveliness, nervousness, and vigilance Need basic training due to a non-aggressive attitude, playfulness, affection, and obedience
SheddingHypoallergenic and low-shedding but needs daily brushing to prevent tangles and matsHypoallergenic and low-shedding but requires hair trimming due to fast-growing coat
Maltese vs. Bichon: Breed Comparison

Breed History

Even from 3500 B.C., Maltese breeds were popular little white lap dogs. They became known when the Phoenicians, who ruled the Mediterranean before Greece rose, introduced this breed to Malta. Nevertheless, their origin has caused disputes among ancient people. 

They believed that the Maltese’s birthplace was everywhere between Egypt and the Alps. A few also thought their antecedents were terriers, spitzes, and spaniels. On the other hand, some people also said that Maltese is indigenous to Malta, and they came from their type and are a contributor to other canine breeds. 

Years later, the Maltese became popular with the Romans, especially with noblewomen. They became the world’s first fad dog, which also appeared in different poems, fables, and myths. Moreover, they also earned the name “Comforter Dog” because, during the Renaissance period, ancient people believed they could cure people.

Meanwhile, the Bichon Frise belongs to a clan called Barbichon types, including Maltese, Havanese, and Bolognese. They came from Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands. They also became popular with sailors and earned the name “Bichon Tenerife.” 

In the 13th century, Bichons received popularity among the royal courts in Italy, Spain, and France. Yet, they fell into a fathomless, dark pit when the French Revolution happened in 1789 because their owners got jailed or killed, leading them to be in the streets. Fortunately, they found their way back into North America in the 20th century.


Maltese have round-shaped heads, black noses, alert and dark eyes, and drooping ears. You can also notice their silky white hair covering their entire body, which, in some cases, can touch the floor. In terms of colors, this dog breed used to have different hair colors years ago, but they became known today with their elegant white locks.

Aside from that, Maltese breeds also have thick and straight coats, but you can also see them get wavy. They also lack undercoats; that’s why they do not shed much. Still, they require daily or regular grooming and bathing.

On the other hand, you can become mistaken for Bichons because they look similar to Poodles due to their fluffy white coats and doll-like appearance. They also possess thick double coats, which make them look luxurious and elegant. Moreover, their undercoat is soft and dense.

Bichon Frise‘s outer coat spreads out from their body at a distance. You can compare them with powder puffs because they also look white, even though some can be cream-colored or pale yellow. Their bodies are small and compact, paired with their tails that are well-plumed and curved. Lastly, Bichons also have black noses and eyes like Maltese! 


In Karpinski et al.‘s study about the temperament assessment algorithm in dogs, 61% of the 46 canines showed extrovert behaviors, including being cheerful, sociable, bold, hyperactive, and patient. Similarly, Bichon Frise and Maltese are likely to become active and friendly with people and other dogs.

Maltese are fearless and athletic, making them suitable to become your watchdogs. While they can become stubborn, they can also respond well to rewards when you train them. Moreover, they like being active, such as doing agility courses, playing with friends, and going on vigorous walks.

Maltese also possess a history of being companion dogs; thus, they devote themselves to their owners and require lots of attention in the long run. Meanwhile, Bichons have high alert levels and sudden bursts of energy. They can ask you to exercise, play, or enjoy a long walk outdoors. You will only need to prepare their beds because they can go on a long nap after those activities.

If you consider your place, Bichon and Maltese dog breeds are perfect for small living spaces, such as apartments or flats. Nevertheless, these canines can frequently bark because they love their voices. You can look for other breeds if you or your neighbors are sensitive to noises.

Size Difference

If you compare Bichon vs. Maltese with their sizes, you notice they are both small dogs, but the latter can be smaller and more fragile than the former because Maltese belongs to toy breeds. A male Maltese has a height of eight to ten inches or 21 to 25 centimeters, while a male Bichon has 9.5 to 11 inches or 24 to 29 centimeters.

In addition, the average male weight for Maltese dogs ranges from six to eight pounds or three to four kilograms, while Bichons weigh twice, having 12 to 15 pounds or five to nine kilograms.

Grooming Needs

Both Bichons and Maltese require extensive grooming needs. In most cases, pet owners will need to spend an average of 30 minutes doing regular pet care per day. 

First, brushing the coat is necessary to prevent tangles and mats. You can also cut their hair short to minimize grooming needs. You can do this step with a professional groomer once every six to eight weeks or perform it alone after thorough practice to reduce costs.

Aside from that, they also need daily teeth care using canine toothpaste, eye stain removal using dog eye stain cleaner to remove dark brown or red spots around the eyes, and clipping nails to prevent pain and discomfort. 


Fortunately, both breeds are playful, intelligent, and loving. They are friendly and enjoy spending time with their pet owners. Since they also get along with rewards when training, you can have no difficulties undergoing such sessions with your Maltese and Bichon.

Nonetheless, you can find a slight difference because Bichon can be simpler to train than Maltese. The former is more gregarious, simple, intelligent, obedient, intelligent, and not aggressive, while the latter is more lively, vigilant, and nervous. Therefore, you will need more patience, perseverance, and thorough training when handling your Maltese.


Bichon and Maltese are low-shedding dogs and hypoallergenic. Yet, despite being like that, they still require daily coat care, such as brushing their coat and keeping it short for easy maintenance and prolonged cleanliness. Since Bichon’s coat grows fast, you will also need to take it into monthly trimming to keep it in its best condition.

Similarly, Maltese has a silky and smooth coat that requires brushing to prevent mats and tangles. It also needs cleaning as they can get dirty, especially when they tend to get more active outdoors.


According to Lewis et al.’s research on the longevity and mortality of dogs, canines live for an average of 10.33 years. Nevertheless, since Maltese and Bichon Frise are some of the longest-living dogs, they can surpass this duration and live for 12 to 15 years.

In some cases, Maltese can live longer than Bichon or up to 17 years. Also, their life expectancy depends on how well you treat them and maintain their health and condition. If you fail to monitor their well-being, they can bid their goodbyes earlier than expected.


The costs of adopting and living with a Maltese or Bichon are slightly similar, except that Maltese can be more costly than the other. If you plan to buy them in a pet shop, the former can require $2,000 to $4,000, while the latter needs $1,000 to $3,000, depending on age, gender, quality, and similar factors. Alternatively, they can cost $150 to $600 if you adopt them from a pet rescue.

The initial costs for Maltese range from $560 to $2,025, while Bichon costs $525 to $1,995. It includes doggy things and accessories, vet visits, deworming, dog licenses, and initial grooming. Nevertheless, after those expenditures, they will require a similar amount of $117 to $251 monthly for their living expenses.

Overall Health

Unfortunately, both dog breeds are prone to eye conflicts, whereas Maltese can experience genetic ocular diseases, while Bichons can have lacrimal blockage or cataracts. They can also have dental problems, so you must avoid giving them extremely crunchy foods or hard dog treats. Moreover, they also require regular cleaning and grooming for their hair and coat.

Aside from that, Maltese can suffer from digestive problems, knee joint issues, patellar luxation, and hydrocephalus. In more severe cases, they can have dyskinesis, entropion, White Dog Shaker Syndrome, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy

On the other hand, Bichons have lesser health risks. They can encounter bladder stones, allergies, infections, episodes of epilepsy, and kneecap dislocation. In these unwanted situations, rushing them to the nearest veterinarian clinic is the best way to cure their health conditions. 

Which One Is The Best For You?

Bichon Frise and Maltese can be the best companions you can find today, especially when you are not sensitive to noises because they can frequently bark at any time. They are also cute, adorable, and affectionate to satisfy your clinginess. Yet, your preference can differ depending on your place, family, and other considerations.

For instance, Bichons are perfect for families with children because they can tolerate loud behavior and get along with other dogs or animals in a household. Meanwhile, Maltese can get injuries with kids due to their vulnerability and small size. They cannot also handle a multi-pet home.

Nevertheless, if you want a highly active companion that goes with you in vigorous activities, you can choose Maltese over Bichons because the latter is calmer and laid back. The former is also an excellent watchdog, while the latter is not. 

Choosing between Maltese vs. Bichon Frise is not complicated because they are similar, except for their health risks, temperaments, size, and trainability. Despite that, either is a friendly and loving best friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *