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Robin Burkett, Animal Photography
This cute little dog is a cross of a Maltese and a Toy or Miniature Poodle. Clever, playful, and affectionate, Maltipoos retain their puppy-like looks and behavior well into their teen years. The coat can be scruffy or curly and comes in a variety of colors, although it is most often white or cream.
With the intelligence of the Poodle and the sweetness of the Maltese, the Maltipoo is a smart, darling dog and a loving companion.
The Maltipoo is a crossbreed. Opening your heart and home to a crossbreed is like opening a beautifully wrapped package on your birthday: you never know what’s going to be inside. It’s often assumed that a crossbreed will combine the best of two or more breeds, but genetics doesn’t always work that way. The way genes combine and express themselves is not necessarily within a breeder’s control, even less so when two breeds are crossed. That’s something to keep in mind before you lay down lots of money for a dog that you have been assured will be hypoallergenic or healthier than a purebred.
If ever there were a living, breathing, barking incarnation of cuteness, it is the Maltipoo. A mix of two of the more popular of small dog breeds, the Maltese and the Poodle, the dogs are small, clever, playful and affectionate. They’re also forever young, staying puppy-like well into their senior years. Those qualities have made the Maltipoo one of the more popular deliberate mixes.
A well-bred, well-raised Maltipoo should be friendly, people oriented, and easy to train — and just a little bit of a mischief-maker. Be warned, however, that a Maltipoo from an irresponsible or inexperienced breeder can be a mess of the combined genetic problems of his ancestors, without the benefit of the kind of health and temperament testing done by good breeders. That can mean a snappy, noisy tyrant of a dog, nearly impossible to housetrain and with a wide variety of costly health problems.
Crossbred puppies like the Maltipoo — even within the same litter — can look very different from one another, and can look the same as or different from either of their parents. The Maltipoo is usually extremely small, but his size, color, coat type, temperament, activity level, and health risks will vary depending on what that individual puppy has inherited from his parents.
A Maltipoo is likely to be a bit of a barker, making him a good watchdog. Nip nuisance barking in the bud with gentle correction. And though he’ll probably like children and other dogs, you’ll need to protect him from excessive roughness from either.
Generally, Maltipoos weigh about 10 pounds and have a slightly scruffy coat, although it can also be curly like the Poodle’s coat. They can come in a variety of colors, but are often white or cream.
People have been crossing types of dogs for millennia in the attempt to achieve a certain look, temperament, or working ability. That’s how many well-known purebreds, including the Affenpinscher, Australian Shepherd, Black Russian Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Doberman Pinscher, German Wirehaired Pointer, Leonberger, and more, originally got their starts.
But crossing two breeds over and over does not a breed make. A breed is a group of animals related by descent from common ancestors and visibly similar in most characteristics. To achieve consistency in appearance, size, and temperament, breeders must select the puppies with the traits they want and breed them over several generations for the traits to become set.
Crossbreeds such as the Maltipoo have become popular over the past 10 or 20 years as people seek out dogs that are different from the everyday Yorkie or Poodle or that they think will have certain appealing characteristics. For instance, it’s often claimed (falsely, by the way) that crossbreeds are hypoallergenic or have fewer health problems or will carry the best traits of each breed.
Unfortunately, genes aren’t quite that malleable. Genetic traits sort out randomly in each dog, so without selecting for certain characteristics over many generations, there’s no guarantee you’ll get the best of each breed. And no matter what his breed or mix, an individual dog may be more or less allergenic or intelligent or healthy.
Whatever his breed, cross, or mix, love your dog for what he is: a unique, special, and loving companion.
Temperament is affected partly by inheritance and partly by environment, so it can be variable. A Maltipoo’s temperament depends on several things including the temperaments of his parents, especially the mother, who is more likely to influence a puppy’s behavior; the amount of socialization he receives; and the particular genes he inherits. Both Poodles and Malteses tend to be friendly and outgoing and generally shouldn't be shy. A well-bred and socialized Maltipoo should be cuddly, gentle, and loving. Say no thanks if a puppy’s parents won’t let you approach them, shy away from you, or growl at you, or if puppies do any of those things.
Maltipoos tend to enjoy going for walks and playing with balls and other toys, both indoors and out. If you train a Maltipoo with positive reinforcement techniques, showing him what you like by rewarding him with praise, play, and treats, he’s likely to learn quickly and will enjoy showing off the tricks he knows.
Start training your puppy the day you bring him home. Even at eight weeks old, he is capable of soaking up everything you can teach him. Don’t wait until he is 6 months old to begin training or you will have a more headstrong dog to deal with. If possible, get him into puppy kindergarten class by the time he is 10 to 12 weeks old, and socialize, socialize, socialize. However, be aware that many puppy training classes require certain vaccines (like kennel cough) to be up to date, and many veterinarians recommend limited exposure to other dogs and public places until puppy vaccines (including rabies, distemper and parvovirus) have been completed. In lieu of formal training, you can begin training your puppy at home and socializing him among family and friends until puppy vaccines are completed.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see their puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know something about your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from a Maltipoo, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
All dogs, whether purebreds, crossbreeds, or mixes, have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. Run, don’t walk, from any breeder who does not offer a health guarantee on puppies, who tells you that the mixed breed is 100 percent healthy and has no known problems, or who tells you that her puppies are isolated from the main part of the household for health reasons. A reputable breeder will be honest and open about health problems in the mixed breed and the incidence with which they occur in her lines.
Maltipoos may be susceptible to the health problems of both the Maltese and Toy Poodle, but there’s also a chance that the genetic diversity introduced by mixing two breeds may lower the chances of developing certain inherited diseases. The very nature of genetic variation makes this difficult to predict for a mixed breed dog. Please refer to the breed guides on Malteses and Toy Poodles for an overview of some of the inherited diseases reported in these two breeds.
Not all inherited conditions are detectable in a growing puppy, and it can be hard to predict whether an animal will be free of these maladies, which is why you must find a reputable breeder who is committed to breeding the healthiest animals possible. They should be able to produce independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. At a minimum, ask the breeder to show evidence that both of the puppy’s parents have the appropriate certifications from health registries like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Canine Eye Registry Foundation, etc.
If the breeder tells you she doesn’t need to do those tests because she’s never had problems in her lines, her dogs have been vet checked, or any of the other excuses bad breeders have for skimping on the genetic testing of their dogs, walk away.
Careful breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens, but sometimes Mother Nature has other ideas and a puppy develops one of these diseases despite good breeding practices. Advances in veterinary medicine mean that in most cases the dogs can still live good lives. If you’re getting a puppy, ask the breeder about the ages of the dogs in her lines and what they died of.
Remember that after you’ve taken a new puppy into your home, you have the power to protect him from one of the more common health problems: obesity. Keeping a Maltipoo at an appropriate weight is one of the easiest ways to extend his life. Make the most of diet and exercise to help ensure a healthier dog for life.
The Maltipoo’s grooming needs will vary depending on his coat, but all Maltipoos need regular, even daily, brushing. Those with the curlier Poodle coat require professional grooming every four to six weeks. Some owners learn to use the clippers and do the job themselves, but most rely on the pros. Either way, it’s essential to take proper care of the coat, because without regular grooming it will quickly become a matted mess that can cause painful skin infections at the roots of the hair.
Your Maltipoo’s ears need to be kept clean and dry, so clean them regularly with an ear cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian. The rest is basic care. Trim your Maltipoo’s nails as needed, usually every week or two. Small dogs are prone to periodontal disease, so brush his teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath.
Whether you want to go with a breeder or get your dog from a shelter or rescue, here are some things to keep in mind.
Finding a good breeder is a great way to find the right puppy. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. She is most interested in placing pups in the right homes than making big bucks.
Good breeders will welcome your questions about temperament, health clearances, and what the dogs are like to live with, and come right back at you with questions of their own about what you’re looking for in a dog and what kind of life you can provide for him. A good breeder can tell you about the history of the crossbreed, and discuss what health problems affect the breed and the steps she takes take to avoid those problems.
Avoid breeders who seem interested only in how quickly they can unload a puppy on you and whether your credit card will go through. You should also bear in mind that buying a puppy from websites that offer to ship your dog to you immediately can be a risky venture, as it leaves you no recourse if what you get isn’t exactly what you expected. Put at least as much effort into researching your puppy as you would into choosing a new car or expensive appliance. It will save you money in the long run.
Lots of reputable breeders have websites, so how can you tell who’s good and who’s not? Red flags include puppies always being available, multiple litters on the premises, having your choice of any puppy, and the ability to pay online with a credit card. Quickie online purchases are convenient, but they are almost never associated with reputable breeders.
Whether you’re planning to get your new best friend from a breeder, a pet store, or another source, don’t forget that old adage “let the buyer beware”. Disreputable breeders and facilities that deal with puppy mills can be hard to distinguish from reliable operations. There’s no 100% guaranteed way to make sure you’ll never purchase a sick puppy, but researching the crossbreed (so you know what to expect), checking out the facility (to identify unhealthy conditions or sick animals), and asking the right questions can reduce the chances of heading into a disastrous situation. And don’t forget to ask your veterinarian, who can often refer you to a reputable breeder, rescue organization, or other reliable source for healthy puppies.
And before you decide to buy a puppy, consider whether an adult Maltipoo might better suit your needs and lifestyle. Puppies are loads of fun, but they require a lot of time and effort before they grow up to become the dogs of your dreams. An adult Maltipoo may already have some training and will probably be less active, destructive, and demanding than a puppy. With an adult, you know more about what you’re getting in terms of personality and health and you can find adults through breeders or shelters. If you are interested in acquiring an older dog through breeders, ask them about purchasing a retired show dog or if they know of an adult dog who needs a new home. If you want to adopt a dog, read the advice below on how to do that.
Maltipoo puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. But there’s no need to pay big bucks for a Maltipoo. There are many great options available if you want to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or breed rescue organization. Here is how to get started.
1. Use the Web
Sites like Petfinder.com can have you searching for a Maltipoo in your area in no time flat. The site allows you to be very specific in your requests (housetraining status, for example) or very general (all the Maltipoos available on Petfinder across the country). AnimalShelter.org can help you find animal rescue groups in your area. Also some local newspapers have “pets looking for homes” sections you can review.
Social media is another great way to find a dog. Post on your Facebook page that you are looking for a specific breed so that your entire community can be your eyes and ears.
2. Reach Out to Local Experts
Start talking with all the pet pros in your area about your desire for a Maltipoo. That includes vets, dog walkers, and groomers. When someone has to make the tough decision to give up a dog, that person will often ask her own trusted network for recommendations.
3. Talk to Rescue Groups
Most people who love Maltipoos love all Maltipoos. Search online for Maltipoo rescues in your area. Poodle rescues and Maltese rescues are also good sources for this crossbreed. They also often offer fostering opportunities so, with training, you could bring a Maltipoo home for a trial to see what the experience is like.
4. Key Questions to Ask
You now know the things to discuss with a breeder, but there are also questions you should discuss with shelter or rescue group staff or volunteers before you bring home a pup. These include:
What is his energy level?
How is he around other animals?
How does he respond to shelter workers, visitors, and children?
What is his personality like?
What is his age?
Is he housetrained?
Has he ever bitten or hurt anyone that they know of?
Are there any known health issues?
Wherever you acquire your Maltipoo, make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter, or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. Petfinder offers an Adopters Bill of Rights that helps you understand what you can consider normal and appropriate when you get a dog from a shelter. In states with puppy lemon laws, be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.
Puppy or adult, a breeder purchase or a rescue, take your Maltipoo to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot problems and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues.
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