Can A Maltese Be A Service Dog? (Your Complete Guide)

People often don’t think of toy breeds as service dogs. This is because of their small size and limited stamina. 

With that being said, can a Maltese be a service dog? Well, of course, they can be! 

Being intelligent, friendly, peaceful, and intuitive, Maltese are suitable as service and therapy dogs. You can train them as service dogs to alert in a multitude of situations when help is needed. Maltese services dogs are most often used to help owners who have PTSD.

It is no secret that Maltese are loved and fancied by dog parents. These little guys are not only playful and charismatic but also loving and devoted. In fact, it’s hard to stop talking about Maltese charm and cuteness.

If you are looking for a service dog vest for your Maltese Click Here to see the best options available now!

Read on to learn more about the reasons for a Maltese’s suitability as a service dog.

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Definition of service dogs

According to Americans with Disability Act (ADA): “A service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The tasks performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.” 

Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA): “A service animal is any animal that is individually trained or able to provide assistance to a person with a disability, or any animal that assists persons with disabilities by providing emotional support.” 

There are so many ways in which service dogs can assist humans. These laws don’t specify the particular dog breeds that can be considered service dogs. Thus, it’s not so surprising to see a small breed as a service dog. Their hard work can make all the difference in improving the quality of life for their owners.

Can a Maltese be a service dog? What Services Do they Provide?

For obvious reasons, the Maltese would not do well for people that need a Service Dog for tasks that involve physical support and heavy lifting. However, that doesn’t mean your Maltese is out of the picture. 

Chess Dog 300 x 600

The adorable, tiny, fluffy Maltese have proven adept at alerting their owners to symptoms associated with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or asthma.

Maltese are very different from most service dogs but they do have some special talent. 

  • Maltese are great for the hearing impaired and deaf
  • Maltese can help individuals who have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
  • Despite being small, Maltese can still be adept at helping around the house with more manageable projects.
  • The Maltese service dog is valuable for those who have psychiatric disorders such as autism and social anxiety disorders.
  • Also, Maltese have even proven themselves to be valuable as medical alert service animals. These little dogs can be trained to detect epileptic seizures and subtle changes in a diabetic’s glucose level. Maltese can sense when their owners’ blood sugar reaches dangerous levels and let them know.
  • Maltese can be trained for lap duty. A trained Maltese provides caregivers with the opportunity to physically embrace their four-legged companions.

Following are some of the manageable house chores any Maltese can do:

  • Fetching television remote
  • Pulling open cabinet doors with soft handles
  • Retrieving light clothing from the dryer
  • Alerting their owner to specific sounds, like telephone ring, alarm, or if someone’s at the door
  • Alerting their owner of baby cry
  • Fetching the newspaper from the lawn

Consider training your Maltese to become a service dog if he has the following characteristics:

  • Your dog is intelligent and obedient
  • Your dog is well-behaved in public situations.
  • Your dog is healthy to perform the required tasks
  • Your dog is quiet and active when in public

Maltese are also not terribly wary of strangers, so they can do their jobs in public with no problem.

How To Make Your Maltese a Service Dog

If you want your Maltese to become a service dog the process is quite simple. Either you or a professional needs to train your dog to do a specific task for you. This task is something that you can not do or have trouble doing for yourself.

Whether the task is to detect when a seizure may be coming or alert you when your blood sugar is getting too low there needs to be a specific task that your dog is trained to do.

If this task is something that you need help with while in public areas your dog needs to be well socialized and able to be in a public place without being disruptive or aggressive.

A service dog is allowed to go into any public place with the exemption of some religious buildings. You do not have to have a license or any documentation stating that your dog is a service dog.

If you are questioned by a business about your service dog they are allowed to ask you 2 things.

“(1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform? Staff are not allowed to request any documentation for the dog, require that the dog demonstrate its task, or inquire about the nature of the person’s disability.” (Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA)

Although it is not required to have any identification for your service dog it can be very helpful to have a service vest for your dog so that you can avoid some uncomfortable questions or possible confrontations. Maltese service dog owners have loved this vest for their dogs. You can check the prices on service vests by clicking here.

It’s important that if you plan to have your Maltese be a service dog that you train it properly and don’t take advantage of the opportunity to have your dog with you in public places.

Because some people are taking advantage of just saying their dog is a service dog without the proper training it is shining a bad light on service dogs in general and making it more difficult for people who actually do need their dogs in order to function in society.

Pro Tip: Even though it is not required, It can be helpful to have some sort of identification for your service dog. Here you can find service tags and badges for your dog.

Difference between a service dog and an emotional support dog 

Here are some key differences between service dogs and emotional support dogs:

  • Service dogs perform duties and tasks that their disabled owner can’t do. Emotional support dogs offer comfort to people suffering from any trauma or mental health problem.  

    For example for someone who suffers from PTSD if the dog is trained to go into a room to sniff, look around, and check that is safe and then come and signal to their owner that it’s ok to enter that would be a service dog. That would be a specific task that it has been trained to do.
    If the dog is just there to offer support and comfort to the person with PTSD that is not a service dog.
  • Service dogs need training while emotional support dogs do not undergo extensive training.
    Service dogs undergo quite a bit of training in order to be able to complete specific tasks for their owners.
  • Service dogs can easily travel anywhere with their owners. Emotional assistance dogs cannot travel anywhere with their owners. 

Are Maltese good emotional support dogs

With their small size and loving nature, Maltese possess the qualities that make them wonderful emotional support dogs. Maltese won’t give you the additional stress of transportation since they are quite lightweight and very portable. They are the perfect size to carry in your purse anywhere you go. 

There’s nothing quite like the warmth of a sweet cold nose. Maltese can provide you with emotional support as you go about your day. Cuddling up with a Maltese can boost your spirits when you’re feeling low. 

Maltese are capable of making their owners feel better and feel happier. They can be of great advantage to those with mental health conditions. Owners must train their Maltese and ensure that they do not misbehave in public, despite the situation.

What to look for in a service dog 

Regardless of the breed of dog, there are some qualities and characteristics a good Service Dog should possess. These include:

  • The dog should be of the right size, with the right amount of strength and stamina to perform the required duties.
  • The dog must be physically active as well as calm and peaceful when in public.
  • The dog must be smart and a problem solver. It should have a some intelligence and obedience.
  • The dog must always be well-behaved in public situations. They should not be aggressive, hyper, or snappy at public places.

Can a Maltese be a Therapy Dog 

A therapy dog lends comfort and affection to people in an establishment or to certain people who require help to deal with a physical or emotional problem. They are neither service dogs nor emotional support dogs. 

The responsibilities of therapy dogs are to provide comfort, assistance, and psychological therapy to individuals other than their handlers. Generally, they visit hospitals, schools, old age homes, nursing homes, and many more.

The Maltese is an intelligent and easy-to-train breed. This fantastic combo of brains and beauty makes him an ideal therapy dog. Maltese have a tendency to bark, so they need to be trained to stay quiet and calm.

The comfort that these energetic and tiny Maltese can share is remarkable. This small breed is also valuable for those individuals that suffer from any psychiatric issues. Maltese can provide relief to those in anxiety-provoking situations. They can bring comfort and relief to those who are grieving or lonely. Maltese offer affection to people who are in hospitals or nursing homes.

Vital Stats About Maltese 

Let’s have a look at some vital stats of Maltese:

Dog Breed Group
Toy group 
Lapdog, Companionship
Gentle, Charming, Playful, Peaceful 
Average Height
7-9 inches
Average Weight 
Under 7 pounds
Energy level 
Exercise needs
Low; 20 minutes per day
AKC Breed Popularity
Ranks 37 of 197
Life Expectancy
12 – 15 years 

What are Maltese Bred for: Their Superpowers Revealed

Maltese Characteristics and Personality  

Maltese are affectionate, fun-loving, and happy dogs. All Maltese generally share the following personalities:

  • Loyal: Loyalty is a natural behavior of Maltese. These little dogs are very loyal to the family.
  • Great watchdogs

Maltese are alert dogs who are fearless in a charming toy-dog way and tend to bark at anything suspicious. If you want to get alert for unexpected people or animals, Maltese serve as reliable watchdogs.

  • Playful: Maltese are playful dogs and enjoy playing and spending time with their human companions. They thrive on human companionship and can get anxious if they don’t get enough interaction with their owners.
  • Intelligent: Maltese are very intelligent and smart dogs. They can read and react appropriately to human gestures. These little guys have a good memory. Maltese need mental stimulation to stay away from mischievous and destructive activities. 
  • Affectionate

Maltese are very loving and affectionate dogs. They need your attention and affection but offer unconditional love to their owners.

Maltese are vocal dogs with high barking potential. You can train your Maltese to stop barking and to avoid unpleasant situations.

  • Adapts well to apartment living

If you live in apartments, then this little guy is a suitable option for you. Maltese are excellent apartment dwellers due to their small size.

  • Easy to train

Maltese need less time, patience, and repetition during training. They are smart and can easily get bored with repetitive training. Maltese respond well to rewards-based training. You will need to use treats and games to teach Maltese to comply with your requests.

These traits make the Maltese a great therapy dog for people needing emotional support.

The temperament of Maltese is affected by a number of factors, including genetics, training, and socialization. 

Final thoughts 

Overall, a Maltese is a small dog that is not capable of performing big tasks like pulling a wheelchair or supporting balance.

There are many Service Dog tasks that a Maltese is capable of learning. These include being there for physiatric issues and small duties around the home like opening cabinet doors.

The Maltese’s size, personality, and capabilities make them a good emotional support dog. They can soothe people who need a furry companion through petting, cuddling, and doing simple tricks or playing games.

How your Maltese can be a service, therapy or emotional support dog.