Maltese vs Yorkie Breed Comparison: Which One Is Right For You?

By John Martin - August 4, 2022

Maltese and Yorkie side by side

Maltese and Yorkies (or Yorkshire Terriers) are both tiny little dog breeds. There are some marked similarities and differences between them that you can learn about through this comparison guide.

Based on this, you can then decide which dog you want for your home if you cannot decide between the two.


Maltese dogs and the Yorkshire Terriers differ from each other on the basis of their origins.

The Maltese dogs come from the island of Malta, the breed coming about around 1500 BC as a result of several traders from different parts of the world settling on the island. These dogs were commonly kept as a companion for the women of that time.

Some records also suggest that the origins of these dogs date back several decades due to pictures and descriptions found in them.

Yorkies have their origins in Yorkshire (England). They were initially bred by the Scottish weavers who brought these dogs over to Yorkshire.

Later, English women began to keep these small dogs as lapdogs.

Both breeds are now mainly kept as pets or are used in competitions and shows.


Maltese dogs and Yorkies are both quite similar when it comes to their size. They are both tiny toy-sized dogs.

The Maltese has a height that measures around 7-9 inches, although some might go up to 10 inches as well. This dog typically weighs around 7 pounds.

Yorkies also tend to measure around 7-8 inches in height, with their weight being around 7 pounds as well, with some weighing 8-9 pounds as well.

It is essential to note here that it is possible that there might be differences in the height and weight of your dog depending on certain genetic factors as well as their health and lifestyle, although the breed standards do recommend this range.


How long the Maltese and Yorkies can live is more or less similar too, although there are a few slight differences. In general, smaller dogs tend to live longer as compared to larger dogs, mainly because of their slower metabolism and rate of growth.

Maltese dogs generally tend to live for around 12-15 years. Similarly, Yorkies tend to live for around 11-15 years, with many also going on to live for 16 years.

Of course, there can be several distinctions in the lifespan of dogs, even if they belong to the same breed. This is because each of them is likely to have a different kind of genetic makeup and lifestyle.

Additionally, some dogs might also end up experiencing health issues that might shorten their lifespan.


Another major similarity that often tends to confuse people is the coat length and type of the Maltese and the Yorkies. Both dog breeds have pretty long coats that fall to the floor or ground.

Even then, however, there are certain differences that can help you distinguish between them.

Maltese dogs usually have a dense, long, silky and smooth coat. This coat is usually present as a single coat without any underlying coat.

Additionally, this coat tends to be quite straight in shape.

Yorkies also have a long, thick, straight and silky coat, although some dogs might also have a woolly or curly coat (but these are not typical to the breed standard).


According to the breed standard of Maltese dogs, the color of the coat must be purely white. However, a pale ivory shade can also be present in the coat in addition to certain black markings.

Moreover, these dogs also tend to have tear stains on their coats, mainly near the eyes. This is common in dogs with white coats.

For Yorkies, the breed standard suggests the following acceptable coat colors:

  • Black and tan
  • Black and gold
  • Blue and gold
  • Blue and tan

There are several additional color conditions for Yorkies, such as differences in the colors on the back, tail, neck, underbelly and legs. Colors apart from these can imply or even lead to health issues.


Grooming is important and crucial when it comes to Maltese and Yorkies. Since their coats tend to be so long, they both have similar grooming requirements.

You must brush the coats of these dogs on a daily basis to ensure that they remain straight and clean. Covering the base is essential as well so that you can get rid of potential dust and debris gathered there.

This kind of brushing is also important to prevent their hair from knotting or matting up. Luckily, however, neither dog tends to shed fur, which can help ensure that you will not need to keep cleaning up around them.

Overall, Yorkies might need a bit more grooming, considering that their coats might come in different varieties.

You must also trim the coat once every 6-8 weeks to ensure that it remains a suitable size without getting in the way. Brushing the teeth, bathing and trimming nails are also some other grooming requirements for both breeds.


Temperamentally, there can be a few differences between the two breeds.

Maltese dogs, for instance, tend to be highly affectionate with their owners and family. They are also quite flexible and can learn to do well in different conditions and situations.

These dogs are also moderately playful, although they do enjoy cuddling and running around with the people around them.

Yorkies, too, are highly affectionate when it comes to the familiar people around them. They are also highly flexible dogs, even more so than the Maltese while also being more playful and mischievous.

These dogs also tend to be curious. Some of their unique traits also include being sprightly, excitable and self-important.

Energy Levels

There tends to be a bit of a difference between Maltese and Yorkies in terms of how energetic they are.

Maltese dogs, for instance, are moderately energetic. This does not mean that they are lethargic, only that they get tired sooner and are capable of both lounging around and running around.

At the same time, however, they might end up getting a bit restless and snappy if there is no outlet for them to release their energy.

On the other hand, Yorkies tend to be highly energetic. They love playing and running around and can manage to do so for much longer.

They do not always like to lounge around and might become a bit restless and aggressive (biting, scratching and growling) if they cannot release their energy.

Stimulation Needs

Because the energy levels of Maltese dogs and Yorkies are different, their stimulation needs also tend to differ. This applies to both their physical and mental stimulation requirements.

The Maltese, for example, requires only up to an hour of exercise on a daily basis, with many also okay with 30 minutes of playing outdoors. This kind of exercise can include moderate walks, running, playing games and more.

The same applies to their mental stimulation needs. You can give them toys and puzzles to keep them occupied, but they will probably tire of this in some time.

Yorkies require plenty of physical and mental stimulation. You should provide them with 1-2 hours of exercise every day while also bringing different kinds of puzzles and toys for them.


Luckily, neither the Maltese nor the Yorkie tends to drool much. This means you do not need to worry too much about constantly cleaning up after them.

However, there are still some rare occasions when they might drool, so make sure you are prepared for those.

Barking Levels

There tends to be quite a difference between the Maltese and Yorkie when it comes to which breed barks more.

The Maltese dog tends to bark on a moderate basis, mainly to alert the owner of a threat. They might also use this as a way to communicate some needs of theirs.

It is when the barking becomes too much that you have to take measures.

On the other hand, Yorkies bark quite a bit, usually when there is some new stimulant in their environment, making them ideal for keeping guard or watch. They might also bark when they are playful, hungry or bored.

This can be a bit frustrating, but as long as you provide proper training and socialization, you can deal with it.

Care Conditions

Apart from physically grooming the Maltese and Yorkies, there are many other ways in which you can care for them. Make sure you provide enough exercise and rest to them on a daily basis.

You should also feed them healthy food and look out for potential health issues. Do not skip meals as this could make them tired and aggressive.

You should also provide enough care and attention to them without mistreating them or punishing them.


Trainability is important in all dogs since it can help you prepare your dog for different situations while also getting them to obey your commands whenever they act out of the ordinary.

Maltese dogs tend to be a bit stubborn and carefree, making them slightly difficult to train. Generally, however, if they are raised in the right way and have a healthy environment, there might not be too many issues.

On the other hand, Yorkies are extremely easy to train since they are highly eager to please and loyal to their owners. They are also quite quick to grasp new things you teach them, especially if you rely on positive reinforcement.

Health Issues

Maltese dogs tend to have the following common health issues that you might need to watch out for.

  • Reverse sneezing, taking place due to allergies, stress or waking up
  • Collapsed trachea, resulting in sharp coughs
  • Hypoglycemia
  • White dog shaker syndrome
  • Luxating patella, often displacing the kneecap
  • Injuries due to frequent jumping
  • Retinal atrophy

Yorkies have the following common health issues:

  • Bronchitis
  • Cataracts
  • Collapsed trachea
  • Retinal atrophy
  • Highly sensitive digestive system, resulting in frequent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Injection reactions
  • Malocclusion, often causing tooth decay

Make sure to observe your dog’s behavior and look out for symptoms so that you can take them to the vet immediately.


How alert your dog is can depend on their breeding instincts and development.

Maltese dogs are highly vigilant, alert, protective and watchful. However, Yorkies tend to be even more so, owing to their original use as watchdogs and companions to weavers as well as their tendency to bark often.

In either case, both dogs can make for good guards or if you want them to watch over something for a while. Additional training can help sharpen their skills too.


When it comes to the intelligence of dogs, there are some criteria that can make a difference, such as learning rate and ability, retention and recall, obedience, ease of training, solving problems and more.

Based on these, Yorkies are certainly more intelligent as compared to the Maltese. In fact, they hold the 34th rank in Stanley Coren’s book, The Intelligence of Dogs while the Maltese rank 59th.

This can make it easier for you to teach things to your Yorkie, although if you start at a young age for both, it can become quite manageable either way.


How sociable your dog is can depend on how they behave and react around other people and pets.

While both the Maltese and Yorkies are highly affectionate with their families, Yorkies tend to be more sociable when it comes to being around children while also being more open around strangers.

The Maltese might take some more time to become familiar with and comfortable around kids and strangers, although it can be easy to calm them down if you provide proper socialization from a young age.

However, when it comes to dealing with other pets and animals, both breeds might take longer to get used to them, especially considering their cautious and protective natures.

Final Remarks

There are several criteria that make the Maltese and Yorkies similar and different. Some of these include their history, size, coat lengths and colors, energy levels, stimulation needs, barking, grooming, trainability, health, intelligence and more.

Based on this information, we hope that you can now decide on which of these dogs to bring home.