Maltese vs Shih Tzu – Comparing Popular Small Dog Breeds

If you’re thinking about introducing a cute and cuddly canine companion into your life, the Maltese vs Shih Tzu are two breeds to consider. These long-haired, pint-sized pooches are a popular choice for people wanting a hypoallergenic lap dog, but they aren’t identical. 

We compare these loveable lap dogs, looking closely at their size, temperament, price, exercise, and grooming needs.

Maltese or Shih Tzu Comparison Chart


Shih Tzu





Eager to please




Eager to please


Laid Back




Family Dog




7-9 inches

9-10.5 inches


Under 7 pounds

9-16 pounds








12-15 years

10-18 years

Coat Colors


White, Black, Gold, Red, Blue, Silver, Brindle (combination)



Easy to train and eager to please.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — The Breeds

maltese vs shih tzu weight.

Maltese are toy-group lap dogs that have been around since the Ancient Egyptians ruled. While the exact origins of this elegant-looking breed are unknown, historians suggest strong links to the island of Malta — hence the name! 

A tiny dog with the mind of a burly watchdog, the Maltese is fiercely loyal to their owners and will bark at strangers. While they may think they sound intimidating, their adorable appearance is unlikely to scare anyone away.

The stand-out feature of the Maltese is their long, silky coat. The white fur is soft to the touch and grows similar to human hair. Some owners choose to trim it, but nothing looks better on the Maltese than their natural long and flowing silky coat.

Is the Maltese for Me?

Are you looking for a loyal and loving lap dog? If so, the Maltese may just be the breed for you. These dogs are affectionate while also being protective of their human family.

But, if you don’t want to put up with a lot of barking, don’t get a Maltese! Due to their unwavering loyalty, they will bark a lot at strangers and can be hard to ‘win over.’ 

The Maltese is a great choice for people with a small living space or apartment life. However, their small size can make them vulnerable to injuries. Hence, if you have young kids that haven’t grasped ‘be gentle,’ you may wish to rethink. 

While you don’t need to worry about spending hours of your day walking a Maltese, you do need to spend a fair bit of time grooming their show-stopping white coat. The Maltese isn’t a low-maintenance breed. 


  • Hypoallergenic low-shedding coat. 
  • Low exercise needs. 
  • Loyal and affectionate nature. 
  • Small size.


  • High-maintenance grooming needs. 
  • Not suitable for families with small children. 
  • Can be vocal. 
  • Has a stubborn side.
maltese vs shih tzu colors.

The Shih Tzu originates in Tibet and is also thousands of years old. These tiny dogs were frequently sent to China and were used as companion dogs for Chinese royalty. 

If you want the perfect lap dog, the Shih Tzu won’t let you down. These dogs are sleepy and lazy and just love to cuddle all day long. In fact, you may end up having to carry your Shih Tzu home if you accidentally venture too far during your daily walkies. 

If you socialize your Shih Tzu well from a young age, they adapt to new people and animals. However, they will love their owners more than anything and will want to spend as much time as possible with their humans.

Is the Shih Tzu for Me?

Whether you’re a senior, single, or looking for a family dog, the Shih Tzu will be your new furry best friend. But, Shih Tzus can be put at risk when playing with young and boisterous children. As is the case with many small dogs, it’s best to wait until your children know how to be gentle to avoid any accidental injuries. 

If you’re out of the house a lot, the Shih Tzu isn’t the breed for you. These tiny dogs love their owners a little too much and can become stressed and anxious when alone. 

Lastly, you don’t need to worry about the Shih Tzu wanting to be walked for several hours a day, they’re pretty lazy dogs — but, prone to obesity. However, if you want to keep their signature long coat, you’ll have to set aside time for daily brushing sessions.


  • Highly trainable.
  • Low-shedding coat.
  • Only needs around 40 minutes exercise a day. 
  • Loyal and loving temperament.


  • Requires daily brushing.
  • Suffers from separation anxiety.
  • Not suitable for families with young children.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Size

The Shih Tzu and Maltese are two popular, small dog breeds. If you aren’t up to speed on your doggy knowledge, it’s easy to confuse these two. 

However, when comparing Maltese vs Shih Tzu height and Maltese vs Shih Tzu weight, there is a slight difference.


Adult Maltese dogs rarely weigh more than 7 pounds, and they grow to around 7 to 9 inches tall.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu is also small, but they weigh more than the Maltese. Their average weight is anywhere between 9 and 16 pounds. These dogs are also taller than their white-coated friends, growing to around 11 inches tall.

maltese or shih tzu which one is better.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Temperament

Maltese and Shih Tzus are ideal companion canines, both with gentle temperaments. However, one is more energetic and more vocal too — the Maltese!


The Shih Tzu and Maltese are affectionate and loyal lap dogs. 

Yet, the Maltese can take their loyalty to the next level — barking to protect their owners from strangers. They’re a toy pooch with an attitude akin to the biggest of watchdogs! 

The Maltese is full of character and has a comical personality at times. They aren’t overly energetic but have a bit more pep in their step compared to the Shih Tzu.

If you want a lazy lap dog, get the Shih Tzu! These dogs love to cuddle all day long, and while they enjoy walkies, they may need encouragement to get out of the house. 

That said, both breeds are known to get on well with people of all ages, and when they aren’t busy sleeping, Shih Tzus do have a playful side too.

Separation Anxiety 

Unfortunately, both dogs suffer from separation anxiety. 

If your work takes you away from home for several hours a day, neither of these breeds are for you. When left on their own for a long time, they can become distressed and misbehave.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Training

If you want to live happily with your canine companion, you need to train them right from puppyhood. Starting obedience and house training as early as possible for the best results and the most well-behaved furry friend.


Maltese dogs are intelligent and often very easy to train. This pooch loves to please their owners, and their desire to obey can make training a quick and easy process. Use plenty of praise whenever your pooch masters a new skill or obeys a command. 

Don’t be tempted to shout at or punish your pooch if training isn’t going well. When a Maltese feels threatened or scared, they won’t obey or be able to learn easily. You need to create a fun and loving training regime and prioritize praise over punishment. 

As these dogs are prone to barking at strangers, don’t forget to teach your Maltese the ‘quiet’ command as soon as possible!

Shih Tzu 

Shih Tzus aren’t the cleverest dogs around, but they can learn new skills and commands if the right approach is used. 

If you give your Shih Tzu plenty of fuss and a doggy treat or two, they will soon learn how to behave and answer your commands. Many pet parents have also had success with using a clicker to train their Shih Tzu. 

They’re very similar to the Maltese, in that, they’re all about positive reinforcement and praise! If you shout or become aggressive, they’ll be too scared to listen or obey. Kindness is always the best approach when training these small and sensitive dogs.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Price

How much Shih Tzu and Maltese puppies cost can vary significantly between breeders. These small dogs don’t come with a tiny price tag. In fact, puppies from certain pedigree bloodlines can cost you thousands of dollars. 

On average, Maltese dogs have a higher price tag than Shih Tzus:

  • Maltese — between $1000 and $2500.
  • Shih Tzu — from $500 up to $1600.
maltese vs shih tzu price.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Shedding and Coat

When looking at the Maltese vs Shih Tzu colors, the two dogs are easy to distinguish. The Maltese is exclusively white, whereas the Shih Tzu can be white, black, silver, brindle, red, or a combination of colors. 

And, if you have a dog allergy, the great news is that both breeds are hypoallergenic.


You can’t mistake the elegant and regal-looking Maltese. Their long and silky coat is like human hair in texture and hardly sheds. 

With the Maltese, you won’t find clumps of fur around your house, but they will lose a few hairs every now and then.

Shih Tzu

The Shih Tzu can also grow a floor-length coat, but their fur is a touch different from the silky Maltese. This pooch has a double coat. And, while the top layer is long like human hair, they have a dense and fluffy undercoat. 

Don’t be put off by their double coat, the Shih Tzu is a low-shedder too, and won’t trigger your dog allergies.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Grooming Requirements

These tiny dogs are adorable but neglect grooming, and it won’t be long before they start looking a little worse for wear! If you let the fur of your Maltese and Shih Tzu grow to its full length, it can pick up dirt quickly, so effort is required for it to stay looking show-stoppingly good. 


For floor-length coats, daily brushing is a must — that goes for both toy tail-waggers. If you don’t, it will become tangled and matted.

However, if you decide to clip their coat, it’s not so much of a necessity. With shorter coats, they often only require a brush through once every couple of days — this applies to both Maltese and Shih Tzu. 


The Maltese has a stunning white coat, but this may be a problem if they like muddy dog walks. The bottom of your pooch’s coat can trail along the ground, picking up anything and everything. Hence, they will need a bath once a week to keep their white coat looking its best. 

Shih Tzus also need regular baths but can last a little longer between washes — around once every 3 weeks or so. 


Maltese and Shih Tzu are high maintenance. The hair on these dogs will just keep on growing and growing, so regular trims are a necessity. 

The long fur on both these dogs can be styled in various ways but if you want it left long, trim it every 6 weeks. If you want to clip your Shih Tzu or Maltese coat into a puppy cut, visit a professional groomer approximately once a month. 

Both these breeds require their nails trimmed every 6 weeks or so. Plus, another grooming must for Maltese and Shih Tzus is using a tear stain remover to avoid any wet marks developing around their eyes. 


Looking after your dog’s teeth can often be overlooked, but good oral hygiene is essential for their health. Brush your Maltese or Shih Tzu’s teeth two or 3 times a week with dog-friendly toothpaste.

Maltese vs Shih Tzu — Exercise

Some tiny dog breeds have a lot of energy to burn and need plenty of daily exercise — Maltese and Shih Tzus are not these dogs! 

In fact, if you want a dog with minimal exercise needs, both dogs will make great canine companions. However, one of the breeds wins the medal for the laziest lap dog around — the Shih Tzu!


These small dogs enjoy running around and playing but won’t make the best hiking companion. On long walks, Maltese can become tired, and you may have to carry them to give their little legs a rest. 

Two 15-minute walks per day is more than enough to keep them happy and healthy. However, if you forget to walk your pooch, they may become bored and misbehave.

Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are a little bigger than Maltese dogs and need 40 minutes of exercise a day. Again, splitting this time into two shorter walks is a good idea and will help to keep your pup physically active throughout the day. 

Known for being extremely lazy, Shih Tzus can take their lap dog duties a little too seriously! To prevent your dog from becoming obese, make sure you’re taking them for walkies every day.

maltese vs shih tzu size.


Do you want a small, hypoallergenic pooch with a flowing coat that will turn heads on your daily doggy walks? If so, the Shih Tzu and Maltese are two adorable breeds worthy of consideration. 

Whichever breed you choose, you will have a loyal and loving lap dog that also has a beautiful hypoallergenic coat. 

When comparing a Maltese vs Shih Tzu, both have a similar gentle nature, but the Shih Tzu is lazier and more laid back. The Maltese has more energy and is more likely to bark at strangers.

Maltese Versus Shih Tzu FAQs

Which Is Better Maltese or Shih Tzu?

Both these breeds are affectionate and happy allergy-friendly dogs. If you don’t want to put up with a lot of barking, the Shih Tzu is less vocal. However, if you want a tiny dog, the Maltese is both lighter and shorter than the Shih Tzu.

Are Maltese Affectionate Dogs?

Yes, Maltese dogs are very affectionate and gentle. This breed can be cautious of strangers, but they’re devoted to their owners and enjoy spending all of their time with their humans. 

Is Maltese Good for First Time Owners?

Maltese dogs are easy to train and make excellent pets for first-time owners. It’s best to use positive training methods, such as praise and reward with treats, to encourage your dog to obey commands and perform new tricks. 

Do Shih Tzus Like to Cuddle?

Yes, Shih Tzus love to cuddle. This breed makes a perfect lap dog — they enjoy sleeping and snuggling with their owners. However, they can be quite lazy and love lounging around a little too much. The Shih Tzu is prone to obesity. Hence, regular exercise is essential to keep them healthy and happy. 

Is Shih Tzu a Hypoallergenic Dog?

Yes, Shih Tzus are hypoallergenic. They have a double coat, but their fur is similar to human hair and only sheds mildly throughout the year.