Westie vs Maltese: How to Pick the Right One

When it comes to choosing a new pet for the home, the Westie vs Maltese debate still rages. The West Highland White Terrier was originally from the UK, while the Maltese breed is from Italy. Both of them are roughly the same height and weight, as well as lifespan.

With so many similarities, you may think that they are quite similar in all ways. However, there are a few differences, and it is essential to know what they are. That way, you have all the information you need to make the right choice for your lifestyle and needs.

Maltese History

Maltese dogs are an ancient breed that is still quite popular today as it was before. Some people call it the Melita or Maltese Lion Dog.

The Kennel Club chose the Maltese name in the 19th century. It has been bred selectively throughout the centuries to keep it a small size. Though the exact origin is unknown, most people believe that it comes from Italy.

Some people believe that poodles and spaniels were used for breeding the Maltese. You’ll find that it has been recognized as a pure breed since 1888.

Westie History

Westies (West Highland White Terrier) are originally from Poltalloch, which is in Scotland. Therefore, they were called the Poltalloch Terrier and then the Roseneath Terrier. Initially, they were used for hunting badgers, foxes, otters, and to kill vermin or rats.

Colonel Malcolm from Poltalloch demanded that all the Westies be white. This was to protect the dog from getting shot. Often, he went hunting and would mistake them for the prey, which cost a lot of money and time.

Maltese Description

Maltese dogs are looked upon as “toy” dogs. Both males and females tend to be about 20 to 25 centimeters tall and have a weight range of 1kg to 4kg.

These dogs are adorable and have a rounded skull, black nose, and brown eyes. The ears are floppy and medium length. Plus, the tail is curled and feathery.

The dog has no undercoat, and the fur is silky. This animal has pure-white sheen and doesn’t shed, so it is considered to be hypoallergenic.

Westie Description

Westies are small, but they have all the talents that larger dogs have. They’re quite obedient, which makes them very desirable. In some cases, they are ideal to be used as therapy dogs and in search-and-rescue teams.

Homeowners with a Westie will always have an enthusiastic playmate and an exciting place. They’re ideal for both city and country life, so it doesn’t matter where you live. Of course, they also work well in apartment buildings, but you may need specialized training to keep them from barking all the time.

You’ll find that the Westie can easily stay home while you’re working. That said, they also like to get out and go for walks or traveling excursions.

Westie vs Maltese: A Closer Look

Let us now look into the differences between Maltese and Westie.

1. Temperament

  • Maltese

These little dogs are bred to be your companion. Though they are small, you may still want to consider socializing and training them because they can be snappy.

The Maltese are highly intelligent, so you can train them efficiently. This can make an excellent pet for those with other furry friends and children. Plus, they are highly energetic and will love to play games, both outside and inside the house.

Ideally, you shouldn’t leave the Maltese alone for long periods because they hate being on their own. They could start barking because of frustration or boredom.

  • Westie

Westies tend to be quick learners, as well, so it isn’t too hard to train them. They tend to be sensitive, so if you do need to correct their behavior, it is best to do it patiently and calmly. Dog treats can be a great way to reward good things; find out which ones are best here.

These dogs tend to bark when they hear something strange or new. Even if you have frequent visitors, expect your dog to bark at them.

If you would prefer that your Westie only bark to alert you to potential dangers, you can train them to do so. Do note, though, that it should be done at a young age.

2. Potential Health Problems

Maltese dogs are often healthy, but they can become ill. There are two illnesses to pay close attention to, and they include:

  • Skin: Maltese dogs are prone to getting sebaceous adenitis, which is where the sebaceous glands become inflamed. You may notice hair loss, dandruff, and skin lesions around the ears and back.
  • Thyroid: These dogs often have a hormonal problem called canine hypothyroidism. This means that their thyroid isn’t producing the right hormones. Often, symptoms include weight gain, hair loss, or a weakened immune system.

Of course, all dogs can develop illnesses and diseases. The West Highland White Terrier often has to deal with two primary concerns, which include:

  • Hair Loss: Westies can easily get yeast infections of the skin, which is called Malassezia Dermatitis. This can cause permanent hair loss in the affected area.
  • Skin Conditions: Pyoderma and itchy skin are both common in all terriers. Westies might also be more prone to develop epidermal dysplasia or seborrhea.

3. Care

  • Maltese

Your Maltese needs quality food, but it must also exercise frequently. The food you feed them will impact their health directly.

Make sure to read all of the labels thoroughly on any commercially made food. It should be labeled as “suitable for Maltese breeds” or “ideal for small breeds”. For example, you shouldn’t purchase a bag of dog food for large-breed animals.

If you buy kibble, choose wholesome ingredients. It is also best to feed your pet human food, such as plain, boiled chicken, cooked vegetables, and brown rice.

Grooming is essential, so it is best to brush your Maltese twice a week. Professional haircuts may also be necessary to keep the hair short. You should also brush their teeth twice a week and clip their nails periodically.

  • Westie

When you have a Westie puppy, they will need to be fed up to four times a day. Ideally, you want to feed them home-cooked foods such as turkey and chicken breast. Just ensure you go light on the chicken and rarely give them beef to prevent allergies and itchy skin.

Vegetables are also a good choice. Of course, adult dogs require much of the same food. Though commercial foods can be used, it is always better to choose lean protein and veggies that you cook yourself.

While the Westie can live comfortably in an apartment building, you will need to take them on frequent walks. For one, they will need to go to the bathroom often when they eat four times a day.

These dogs love exercising and socializing. Of course, this prevents them from gaining too much weight. You’ll also find that they are energetic instead of lethargic as they get older.


When debating the Westie vs Maltese breed, it’s important to have all the facts. We have talked extensively about each one so that you are more informed.

Though both dog breeds are ideal for almost any household, we do think that the Westie might be your favorite. For one, they are playful and cute, and they work well with children and other pets.

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