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How Much Does a Maltese Cost?

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How Much Does a Maltese Cost?

While a Maltese is a smaller dog, they are also quite expensive. The average Maltese puppy costs about $600 to $2,000. The price is largely dependent on the puppy’s pedigree and the breeder’s experience. While these dogs don’t actually cost much to breed due to their small size, their high demand often drives up the price. 

You also have to consider the annual price of taking care of a Maltese. Often, you’ll need to spend about $3,000 during the first year, as puppies need more vet care than adults. You’ll also have to spend a decent amount of money on one-time purchases like pet beds and bowls. After the first year, you’ll be spending around $1,200 a year, assuming your dog remains healthy. 

Medical problems often raise the price of this breed substantially. Your best bet is often to invest in a high-quality puppy, even if it costs you more upfront. This will often save you money in the long run, as the puppy will likely be healthier.

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How much is a Maltese?

Smaller dogs tend to be less expensive than larger dogs simply because it is cheaper to breed them. Smaller dogs eat less, require less room, and often have lower vet bills. These savings transfer over to the puppies. The average Maltese usually costs around $600 to $2,000. 

The dogs on the lower end of this range are typically pet-quality. They may have no champions in their bloodline and are bred to be companions animals – not show dogs. On the other hand, the most expensive Maltese puppies are often bred specifically for confirmation. They’ll likely have champions in their bloodline, which means that those who show dogs are more willing to pay a higher price for them. 

Where you get your dog from also matters. Quality breeders are your best option, though they can also be more expensive. Rescue agencies can be a good place to get a cheaper puppy, but it can be difficult to find an animal shelter near you with a Maltese – never mind Maltese puppies specifically.

2 malteses

Getting a puppy from Craigslist

Your cheapest option by far is to choose a puppy from Craigslist. However, it can be difficult to determine what exactly you’re getting when you purchase a puppy from a local marketplace. 

Sometimes, these puppies are from inexperienced breeders. Some of these are people trying to become professional dog breeders, but they’re just starting out. They may be working under an experienced breeder, though they may have done varying amounts of research before breeding the dogs. Because they are not as experienced, they often charge a bit less for their dogs. You can expect between $400 to $1,000. 

Other inexperienced breeders are actually just pet owners who decided to breed their dogs to make some money. They do not often undergo the appropriate health testing before breeding or even know what health testing is. Their puppies receive varying amounts of vet care and may not be socialized properly. 

Because these breeders often don’t know much about the breed, they can charge varying amounts. Some may charge $300 per puppy, while others may charge as much as $2,000. They often base it on what they purchased their puppy for, not necessarily the quality of their puppy.  

On the other hand, puppy mills often tend to advertise on Craigslist and similar platforms. While puppy mills are illegal in most places, they still exist. Often, these establishments aim to produce as many puppies as they can as cheaply as they can. They often overbred their females and may remove puppies at a too-early age to encourage their females to breed again. They usually do not do proper health testing, get their puppies any vet care, or provide the correct socialization. 

Puppy mills may charge very little for their puppies, such as around $300. However, others will charge thousands if there is a high demand for the dog. 

It can be difficult to determine where exactly a puppy is coming from when you purchase over a local marketplace—asking to see the parents can often provide you with a good clue, as puppy mills often keep their dogs in unsanitary conditions. If they won’t let you see the other puppies or mother, it is a red flag. 

You should also ask to see vet records for the puppy you’re adopting and the mother. If they own the father too, ask for his as well. Ask what health tests they have performed. If they skirt around your questions, they likely don’t have the puppy’s best interest in mind.

Some irresponsible breeders might claim that their pups are purebred Maltese, when in fact they are crosses, such as Maltipoos or Morkies.

puppy Maltese

Getting a puppy from a rescue

Getting a Maltese puppy from a rescue can be hit-or-miss. Your local animal shelter will likely not acquire a Maltese puppy simply because they are rarer. Breed-specific rescues are your best bet, though puppies still tend to be rare. 

Puppies from these sources are cheaper. Most rescues charge anywhere from $50 to $500 for their puppies. It may depend largely on the amount of health care the puppy needed upon arrival. If the dog needed all its vaccinations, deworming, and other common procedures, the cost will likely be a bit on the higher side. However, this is still much cheaper than purchasing from a different source. 

While most puppies from rescues do not come from professional breeders, they are given the appropriate health care as soon as they are turned over to the rescue. They are often seen by a vet, spayed or neutered, and vaccinated. If they have any health conditions, the rescue is typically pretty upfront about it and may charge less for the puppy. 

This prevents you from ending up with a sick puppy or spending tons at the vet office. 

Getting a puppy from a breeder

Breeders are often your best bet when it comes to purchasing a Maltese puppy. You can expect to pay around $1,200 for a pet-quality dog. However, you may find some as cheap as $600 and some as expensive as $3,000. While breeders are often more expensive, there is a reason for the higher price. 

Breeders are very experienced in their breed. They have often bred Maltese for years. They know how to correctly raise the puppies so that they are well-socialized and healthy. They are often quite good at guessing the puppy’s temperament and matching them with families. It’s what they do!

Puppies raised by breeders often receive high-quality health care, including vaccinations and various health checks. Most breeders cover the first round of vaccinations, which lowers the amount you’ll need to spend at the vet. You typically don’t have to worry about purchasing a sick puppy from a qualified breeder. Many even offer health guarantees. 

Most breeders also do health testing on their adult dogs before breeding them. This prevents the dogs from passing down potentially dangerous diseases to their puppies, resulting in healthier puppies. Without this testing, puppies with genetic predispositions can easily be bred, which often leads to higher vet bills in the future for you. 

Costs of health test

Health tests often aren’t cheap and require regular visits to the vet. This adds to the price of the puppies, but it also helps ensure that the puppies bred are healthy. 

Luckily, the Maltese breed as a whole is pretty healthy. Therefore, they don’t have to undergo many health tests before breeding. The AKC requires two health tests: a cardiac exam and a patella evaluation. A serum bile acid test is recommended by The Canine Health Information Center. 

A cardiac exam is required to rule out congenital cardiac problems, which are often genetic. There are several heart conditions that fall in this category, including shunts and problems with the valves. Only vets with advanced training in cardiac diseases can perform this test, which can raise the cost substantially. The cost is typically at least $150 if the doctor simply listens to the dog’s heart. Sometimes an echocardiogram is recommended, which can drive the cost up by another $350.  

It isn’t odd for the typical cardiac work-up to cost $625 to $1,000. It depends on if there are any potential problems that call for more tests, such as a heart murmur that ends up being benign. 

A patella evaluation helps ensure that the kneecap is sitting in the right location. Patellar luxation is a common disease in smaller breeds and involves the kneecap slipping out of place. This can be caused by injury, but genetics can cause dogs to be predispositioned to it. The kneecap typically sits in a groove. Due to some genetic problems, though, this groove may not be the right shape or size. This can make the kneecap more likely to become loose. 

Generally, this test is also quite simple. The vet can simply feel the dog’s kneecap and determine if it is sitting correctly. If it can move a bit too much, then it is a sign that it may not be seated in the groove properly. Usually, this exam can cost as little as $60 and is often done at a dog’s usually check-up. 

The serum bile acid test can determine the health of a dog’s liver, which can help determine if the dog has any underlying conditions affecting their liver. Fasting is required for this test, including treats and chew toys. Twelve hours is typically the recommended fasting time before the test. A blood sample is collected after the 12-hour period, and then the dog is offered food. 2 hours after they eat, their blood sample is collected again. 

Usually, this test will cost anywhere from $100 to $300. 

It can be a bit complicated to perform on a Maltese, as many of these dogs have “artificially” raised levels. With that said, most dogs with a defect will have a raised sample. False positives are more common than false negatives. Therefore, the test is still recommended.

Maltese chewing

Annual cost of owning a Maltese

Because these dogs are smaller than most, they are typically cheaper to take care of. The first year will be the most expensive, as you’ll need to make a lot of larger purchases and take the puppy to the vet regularly. About $3,000 is a good price to have budgeted for the first year. After that, you can expect to pay about $1,200 each year. 

In subsequent years, you’re mostly paying for food and an annual vet visit. If your dog develops any health problems, the cost can quickly double or even triple. For this reason, it is important to get a high-quality puppy from a breeder. Otherwise, your costs may be a lot more than we estimate. 

Vet Expenses

For your Maltese puppy’s first year, you can expect to pay about $600. This will cover their three trips to the vet, as well as vaccinations and fecal examinations. You may want to consider spaying or neutering your dog. Generally, this can be done for $100 to $300. You can find clinics that do it even cheaper, but the waiting list is often longer. 

After the first year, your costs will drop to about $450. This covers their annual vet visit, which will be around $100 to $250. This visit will often include a heartworm test, vaccinations, and any necessary blood work. Heartworm and flea prevention medication is also included in this annual cost. Usually, heartworm prevention costs about $60 for the year, while flea prevention is a bit more expensive at $100 to $150. 

While these are the average costs for preventative care, health conditions can raise the cost substantially. 

Patellar luxation often costs anywhere from $300 to $2,000 to treat. Dogs on the lower end may only need supportive therapies, like pain medication and supplements. If your dog needs surgery, you can expect to pay closer to $2,000. 

Mitral valve disease usually costs around $300 to $800. Typically, this disease must be managed with medications, which is where the bulk of the cost comes from. 

Protosystemic shunt is somewhat common in this breed, but it comes with a high price tag of $2,000 to $5,000. Diagnostics are often expensive for this disease, which is one reason the base cost is so high. Even if your dog only needs special food and medication, you can expect to spend $2,000. If your dog needs surgery, you’ll likely end up spending thousands. 

Like many small dogs, Maltese often fight having owners using a nail grinder. Because trimmed nails are integral for your dog’s health, you might need to have this done at the vet every two weeks – expect costs between $5 and $20 per visit.

Maltese running

Food and toy costs

The Maltese is a smaller dog, so they don’t eat very much at all. You’ll pay little for their food when compared to larger dogs, making it easier to feed them a high-quality option. For puppies, high-quality food will cost about $90 a year. Adults will eat a similar amount of food and also cost about $90 a year to feed.

This is mostly because the dog never grows to be very large, so the food consumption of a puppy really isn’t that much different from an adult. Puppy food also tends to be more expensive since it is designed to meet the unique needs of a puppy. When your dog switches to adult food, you’ll probably end up feeding them only a tiny bit more, but the food will cost slightly less ass well. 

This assumes that your dog is eating a normal, high-quality, commercial diet. If your canine develops any health conditions, they may need to eat a specialty food, which will cost far more. Prescription diets can easily cost over $200 a year, depending on your pet’s specific health needs. 

Toys likely won’t be very expensive for this dog. They don’t play hard like some other breeds, so the toys that you purchase will last a long time. You can also get away with purchasing cheaper toys since they likely won’t tear it up anyway. 

Training Costs

While this dog is small, we do recommend training. If you have ever trained a dog before, you can likely train your Maltese yourself. They aren’t very difficult to train, though they do require quite a bit of patience.

If you decide to take your Maltese to classes, we recommend group classes. These provide socialization with other people and puppies, as well as begin your dog’s training correctly. Socialization has more to do with a dog’s tolerance and friendliness than most people realize. It is essential if you’re looking to give a well-adjusted canine.  

Group lessons will cost you anywhere from $100 to $300 for a series of classes. The cost does vary quite a bit depending on the trainer, as well as what is included in the class. 

Maltese with collar

Factors influencing the price

There are many factors that can affect the price of a Maltese puppy. For instance, the breeder’s reputation has a large role. If a breeder has been breeding these dogs for a long time and is known for producing high-quality puppies, then you can likely plan on spending more. 

Puppies with champions in their bloodline and pedigrees will likely cost more as well. These puppies are more likely to perform well in the show ring, which means that breeders are more likely to pay more for them. 

Many breeders get their puppies extensive health care. Some may even perform certain health screenings on their puppies to rule out any potential defects. All of this will add to the price of the puppy. Often, these vet bills are simply added to the puppy’s base price. In the end, you really won’t spend more in the long run, as the dog’s vet bills after adoption will be lower. 

Some breeders provide training and socialization for their puppies, which helps them adapt better to their new home after adoption. If your breeder does this, the puppies might be more expensive because of the extra time involved. Training a bunch of puppies can be time-intensive. 

Simple supply-and-demand also plays a role. If there is only one breeder in your area, the price of Maltese puppies may be higher due to the lower supply. 

Female dogs tend to be a bit more expensive than males, as they are generally more sought after. However, not all breeders price this in. Some charge the same amount for all their puppies, while others will adapt based on the dogs, gender, coat color, and markings. 

Price considerations

After the initial purchase of a puppy, the Maltese are pretty inexpensive to take care of. This is especially true if you purchase a higher-quality puppy that has undergone the proper health testing. They are inexpensive to feed due to their smaller size, aren’t destructive with toys, and require less training. 

The biggest consideration is often vet bills. These can easily sneak up on you when a simple surgery costs thousands of dollars. For this reason, we highly recommend having an emergency fund of some sort set aside in case your puppy gets sick. 

Remember purchasing a cheaper puppy is often only the down payment since their vet bills will be more expensive. Be sure to budget for this if you decide to purchase your puppy from someone besides a qualified breeder. Your emergency fund and first year’s budget for vet bills should be higher. 

The bottom line

A quality Maltese puppy will cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000. It isn’t odd to find puppies that are more expensive than this, though. Puppies with better pedigrees will often cost more than those that were simply bred to be pets. 

Your expenses for the first year will likely be around $3,000. Your puppy will need more vet care than an adult dog, such as more vaccinations and frequent vet visits. You’ll also need to purchase quite a few one-time items, such as dog beds. This will add up fast. 

After the first year, your yearly expenses should stay around $1,200. This covers food and preventative vet care, as well as other consumables you’ll need to purchase. However, it doesn’t take into account any illnesses your dog may develop. Some of these can cost thousands of dollars. Be sure to invest in an emergency fund so that you have the money to pay for these potentially expensive vet bills.