Bichon Frise vs Maltese: What’s the Difference?

Emotional Support Animals
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Written by August Croft

Updated: October 29, 2023

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Comparing all of the white dogs in the world may take some time, but let’s start with comparing the Bichon Frise vs Maltese. What are their differences, and what things bring them together besides their white fur? They may have more things that separate them than you think, but what might those things be?

In this article, we will compare and contrast the Bichon Frise and the Maltese so that you can gain a true understanding of both breeds. We will go over their appearances and sizes, as well as their lifespans. Finally, we will address their behaviors and ancestries so that you can fully comprehend both of these dog breeds. Let’s get started now!

Comparing Bichon Frise vs Maltese

Bichon Frise vs Maltese
The Maltese lives a slightly longer life on average compared to the Bichon Frise.
Bichon FriseMaltese
Size9.5-11.5 inches tall; 11-18 pounds7-9 inches tall; 5-7 pounds
AppearanceFluffy white coat similar to a poodle in texture; floppy ears, though they are difficult to see through fur around the face. Sturdy and strong legs.Small and covered in beautiful fur in white shades; fur is straight and silky. Hard to find their ears, as it looks like hair and stubby snout
AncestryAn old breed originally bred in France and Spain. Used as a rodent hunting dog onboard ships, as a royal lap dog, and as a circus performer in later yearsBred for companionship and rodent hunting; an ancient breed dating back thousands of years. Unknown where exactly the breed originated, but is depicted in many cultures, including Egyptian and European
BehaviorIncredibly happy and excitable; prefers to get its exercise by following its owners around the house. Not a very good guard dog, given their friendly nature, and can be stubborn when trainingVery friendly and compassionate with humans that they know; needs more exercise than you may think. Alert and focused, making an excellent watchdog. Needs plenty of exposure to avoid anxious behavior
Lifespan12-15 years13-17 years

Key Differences Between Bichon Frise vs Maltese

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The texture of the Bichon Frise coat is curly or wavy, while Maltese coats are straight and long.

©iStock.com/Mindaugas Dulinskas

There are many key differences between a Bichon Frise and a Maltese. The Maltese is smaller than the Bichon Frise, in both height and weight. Additionally, the texture of the Bichon Frise coat is curly or wavy, while Maltese coats are straight and long. Finally, the Maltese lives a slightly longer life on average compared to the Bichon Frise.

Let’s take a look at all of these differences in more detail now.

Bichon Frise vs Maltese: Size

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The Maltese is smaller than the Bichon Frise, in both height and weight.

©Ieva Tvaronavicute/Shutterstock.com

One of the main differences between the Maltese and the Bichon Frise is their sizes. The Maltese is smaller than the Bichon Frise, in both height and weight. This is one of the easiest ways to tell them apart just by looking at them. But what are their weights and heights in more detail? Let’s take a look at the figures now.

The Maltese only reaches 7-9 inches tall, while the Bichon Frise grows anywhere from 9.5-11.5 inches tall. Additionally, the Bichon Frise weighs anywhere from 11-18 pounds, while the Maltese reaches 5-7 pounds on average. This makes the Maltese a toy dog breed and the Bichon Frise a small dog breed.

Bichon Frise vs Maltese: Appearance

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The fur of the Bichon Frise is curly or wavy in texture, while the Maltese coat is long and smooth, almost silky in appearance.

©Francisco Gomez Perpinan/Shutterstock.com

It can be extraordinarily difficult to tell the difference between a Maltese and a Bichon Frise based on appearance. Both of these dogs have soft white coats, often long and covering all of their bodies. However, the fur of the Bichon Frise is curly or wavy in texture, while the Maltese coat is long and smooth, almost silky in appearance.

Both of these dogs have floppy ears that get lost in their fur. They also have similarly shaped faces and noses, including dark eyes. Even their tails are extremely similar, though the tail of the Bichon Frise curls up and over their back more than the tail of the Maltese. However, no one would blame you for mistaking a Maltese for a Bichon Frise, and vice versa!

Bichon Frise vs Maltese: Ancestry and Breeding

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The Maltese is an ancient dog breed dating back thousands of years, while the Bichon Frise is a more recent breed by comparison.

©Eudyptula/Shutterstock.com

There are some significant differences in the ancestry and breeding of the Bichon Frise and the Maltese. For example, the Maltese is an ancient dog breed dating back thousands of years, while the Bichon Frise is a more recent breed by comparison. This isn’t to say that the Bichon Frise isn’t an old breed- both of these dogs have been around for quite some time!

However, the Bichon Frise was used as a performing dog in circuses and became a favorite among royalty, while the Maltese was commonly used to hunt rodents aboard merchant vessels. Both dog breeds are capable rat hunters, and they were highly prized for their compact sizes and ease of care.

Bichon Frise vs Maltese: Behavior

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The Maltese makes a much better watchdog compared to the Bichon Frise, given their opposite feelings toward strangers!

©Kimrawicz/Shutterstock.com

The behavior of the Bichon Frise and the Maltese vary slightly. While both dogs are capable and intelligent breeds, the Bichon Frise is more cheerful compared to the alert Maltese. In fact, the Maltese makes a much better watchdog compared to the Bichon Frise, given their opposite feelings toward strangers!

Bichon Frise vs Maltese: Lifespan

Bichon Frise vs Maltese

The Bichon Frise lives slightly less on average compared to the Maltese.

©Radovancev Zarko/Shutterstock.com

A final difference between the Maltese and the Bichon Frise has to do with their lifespans. The Bichon Frise lives slightly less on average compared to the Maltese. But by just how much? Let’s take a closer look at the figures now.

On average, the Maltese lives anywhere from 13-17 years, while the Bichon Frise only lives 12-15 years. This difference may seem subtle, and of course, it depends on the health and wellness of the individual dog. However, Maltese dogs are some of the longest-living dogs on the planet, while Bichon Frises live slightly less on average.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Maltese?

girl 9 years old with long hair model with a pet dog Maltese schoolgirl at home lifestyle on a beige background allergy veterinarian

Maltese do best in homes with older children.

©Mihalovna/Shutterstock.com

Maltese are not only an adorable breed of dog, but they are able to bond well with their owners. Like all dogs, the pros typically far outweigh the cons. They have many family-friendly traits, from playful and charming to affectionate and attentive. They even have hair, not fur like most dogs, which makes it easier for those who suffer from allergies. These little pups love to be around their owners at all times and love to cuddle, whether near you, in your arms, or in your lap.

However, also like most dogs, there are a few cons, and not every dog is right for every family. The cons about the Maltese breed are since they are a small breed, they still might not be the best choice for a home with small children. Small dogs are more fragile and are not only susceptible to injury if a child is rough, but they can also be more prone to snap at a young child. They may also be a bit more difficult to housetrain.

Any dog you adopt should be socialized at an early age and with proper training, as well as early socialization, you should have a happy and healthy new addition to your family.

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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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