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Maltese vs. Bichon Frise: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Maltese vs. Bichon Frise

Maltese vs. Bichon Frise: Notable Differences (With Pictures)

When it comes to choosing the perfect companion, dog lovers must sort through a multitude of adorable options. Two popular small dog breeds that frequently capture the hearts of pet enthusiasts are the Maltese and the Bichon Frise.

If you are struggling with which one to get, keep reading as we discuss the personality, intelligence, and healthcare requirements of each to help you decide which one is better for your home.

Visual Differences

Maltese vs Bichon Frise - Visual Differences
Image Credit: Left – Dora Zett, Shutterstock | Right – David Brown, Pexels

At a Glance

  • Average height (adult): 7–10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 4–7 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: High
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, eager to please, stubborn
Bichon Frise
  • Average height (adult): 9–12 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 10–20 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12–15 years
  • Exercise: 1+ hours a day
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Other pet-friendly: Often
  • Trainability: Intelligent, eager to please, sensitive

Maltese Overview

maltese puppy looking back
Image Credit: Petra, Pixabay


Maltese dogs have a deep affection and devotion to their human companions, thrive on human interaction, and love being part of the family. Many owners report that they enjoy cuddling, snuggling, and being close to their owners, making them excellent lap dogs and companions. They are protective and often alert their owners to threats or strangers approaching their territory.

They enjoy chasing toys, playing fetch, or participating in puzzle games, have a calm disposition, and are often patient with children. They thrive in social settings and are often friendly toward strangers.


Since many Maltese dogs have a stubborn streak, training requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Begin training your Maltese as soon as you bring them home. Early socialization and basic obedience training are essential for their development.

Keep training sessions short and focused, use gentle, patient training methods, and establish a routine. With persistence, you will find your pet capable of learning complex tricks and commands.

White maltese dog walking with his owner
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Health & Care

Maltese dogs are generally healthy but can suffer from several health issues, including dental disease, patellar luxation, progressive retinal atrophy, portosystemic shunt, and white shaker syndrome. However, not all Maltese dogs will develop these health issues, and responsible breeding practices can help reduce the risk.

In addition, regular veterinary check-ups, a nutritious diet, proper grooming, and attention to their overall well-being will enable you to maintain the health of your Maltese companion.

Suitable For:

A Maltese dog is a great family pet, and it will make an excellent companion for individuals or couples looking for a small, affectionate, and loyal dog. They are also a wonderful choice for seniors looking for a low-maintenance pet, and they are typically well-behaved and adaptable to apartment living and don’t require extensive exercise.

They produce fewer allergens compared to other breeds, so will cause fewer allergic reactions in individuals with allergies.

Bichon Frise Overview

bichon frise on thee grass
Image Credit: Ieva Tvaronavicute, Shutterstock


The Bichon Frise has a playful and lively demeanor that will bring joy and entertainment to their owner. They have a knack for finding fun in everyday activities and are always up for a game or interactive playtime. Like the Maltese, they form strong bonds with their human family members and thrive on close companionship.

They enjoy being around people and other pets and are typically friendly and welcoming toward strangers.


Training a Bichon Frise is similar to training a Maltese, and they respond well to positive reinforcement methods like treats, praise, and rewards to motivate and reinforce good behavior. Socialize your Bichon Frise early to ensure that they are comfortable and well-adjusted in various social situations, making them less likely to get distracted.

Starting early and getting them into a routine is effective and will help you get a headstart on obedience training, leash training, and tricks.

Fast Bichon Frise happily running with his ball in the apartment
Image Credit: belefront, Shutterstock

Health & Care

The Bichon Frise is a healthy breed, but common health issues can include allergies, patellar luxation, eye problems, hip dysplasia, and bladder stones. Regular veterinary check-ups can help you find problems faster, when they are usually easier to treat, and a healthy diet with plenty of exercise will help reduce the risk of acquiring a health problem.

Suitable For:

The Bichon Frise is known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them a great family pet that gets along well with children. They are a good choice for individuals or couples seeking a small, loving, and devoted dog and active individuals who can provide regular exercise and engage them in activities to keep them physically and mentally stimulated.

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Which Breed Is Right for You?

Deciding between Maltese and Bichon Frise depends on your personal preferences and lifestyle. Maltese are generally smaller than Bichon Frise dogs, but they are otherwise quite similar. Both have high grooming needs, moderate exercise needs, and friendly, family-oriented personalities. Another benefit is that neither produces much dander, which is good news for allergy sufferers.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Top – RitaE, Pixabay | Bottom – Anna Bondarenko, Pexels

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