One of the most
common things I get phone calls and emails for are “Tea
Cup Maltese”. When I get these calls I have
several things go through my head.
First of all, the person saying that is
not aware of the
AKC Maltese Breed Standard.
The AKC Maltese standard states that the “Maltese is to
be under 7 pounds 4-6 pounds preferred but overall
quality to be favored over size.” The Maltese is a toy
breed in the Toy breed class of AKC registered breeds.
There is not three sizes as there is in
Secondly, I realize that these people has been surfing
the internet and have gotten their information from
puppy mill breeder sites and puppy mill brokers who use
this term to sell tiny Maltese puppies and have created
this name for the small Maltese.
Thirdly, I realize that people do not realize
that what they may end up with is a VERY sick little
Maltese breed like any other breed does have things that
arise and can endanger the health of a Maltese puppy. A
Maltese puppy can be small and be healthy but a good
reputable breeder will not sell or advertise “teacup
puppies”. Also if the puppy is very small a good
breeder will explain to you why the puppy is small and
will offer a health guarantee in writing on that puppy.
If you do find a small healthy Maltese puppy be sure to
ask your breeder about
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). It is a
very severe to small puppies that can kill them.
The Maltese puppies blood sugar can drop when a puppy is
stressed and non eating well. Be sure they are eating
several times a day and/or give them
a couple of
times a day to keep the blood sugar up.
are some things that can effect the size of a Maltese
puppy, and make the puppy stay small, one or more of
these illnesses could cause the Maltese puppy to stay
small and possibly die after the puppy goes to a new
home, the person who desired a “teacup Maltese puppy”
may have an incredible heartache to face.
Toxocara canis (roundworm) - very common in
dogs and cats and are often acquired from the
mother before birth while unborn pups and
kittens are still in the uterus. They can cause
diarrhea, stunted growth, a poor, scruffy coat
and ‘pot bellies’ in puppies and kittens.
During gestation the placenta delivers blood with
food and oxygen from the mother through the
umbilical vein. This means that in the fetus,
circulation is the reverse of circulation after
birth, because the fetus' veins have the
oxygenated blood and arteries return unoxygentated blood to the heart. In order to make
this work, there is a shunt from the liver venous
circulation to the arterial circulation. At birth,
the pressure within the circulatory system changes
as respiration occurs and this shuts the shunt,
which eventually disappears. If this reverse in
circulation doesn't happen for some reason, the
liver is deprived of a blood supply and doesn't
develop properly after birth. Many puppies can
live with the small functioning portion of the
liver for some time but eventually have problems
and usually die if the situation is uncorrected.
It is possible to surgically close the shunt and
the surgery works well. I can remember hearing of
one sheltie that was 6 years of age (or possibly
older) before a congenital liver shunt was
recognized, so some dogs can live a long time with
Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)-
The ductus arteriosus is a
blood vessel that connects the two main arteries
of the body — the aorta and the pulmonary
artery. This blood vessel is normal in the
fetus, but shortly after birth, it should close.
When the ductus arteriosus remains
open or patent after birth, this abnormal
communication between the aorta and pulmonary
artery passes extra volumes of blood into the
Patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) is
a birth defect representing the second most
common congenital heart defect of dogs.
Approximately seven out of 1000 live birth
puppies are affected.
Generally, there are no serious symptoms of PDA
unless congestive heart failure has caused fluid
buildup in the lungs. The condition is typically
identified in puppies during a routine
veterinary visit for vaccinations. Continual
blood flow through the PDA into the lungs
produces a continuous (machinery) heart murmur.
Even when the veterinarian identifies a PDA,
most people believe their dog is normal. In some
cases, the dog can be smaller than littermates
or play less vigorously. However, the situation
can be very misleading as symptoms usually occur
within a year of diagnosis. If untreated, about
60 percent of affected dogs die within a year of
on the brain," occurs when excessive fluid
accumulates within the skull or the fluid passages
within the brain. This fluid accumulation produces
increased pressure on the brain. Signs of
hydrocephalus may include an enlarged head,
prominent forehead, lack of coordination, impaired
vision, mental dullness and convulsions. Animals
with mild cases may not show all these signs and
may only appear abnormal in times of stress,
excitement or head trauma. Hydrocephalus is
usually present at or before birth (congenital)
and may be inherited (passed from one generation
to another). The disease is most common in small
breeds with dome- or apple-shaped heads, such as
Chihuahuas. Mild cases of hydrocephalus can be
treated with medication and careful supervision to
prevent stress and head injury. Some severe cases
are treated surgically. The doctor will discuss
the advisability and outlook for surgery with you.
The Maltese breed is a pretty
hardy happy little dog when bred with care and raised
No Maltese puppy should go to a new
home before 12 weeks old. Ask the breeder
about a written health guarantee and also if you could
verify the puppies health with the breeders vet.
It is better to ask these things to be sure you are
dealing with a reputable breeder. A good breeder
with provide the vets clinic name and phone number
to contact. If the breeder is rude or touchy then
don't walk but run the other way, they are more than
likely hiding something!