Breed: Maltalier (Maltese x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel)
Temperament: happy and playful
Lifespan: 12 -13 years
Recommended for: anyone, first dog owners
Designer dogs are the way of the future. Crossing two pure-breeds to produce a more desirable pet tailor made for the family and healthier than the original breeds. This relatively new type is a cross between the Maltese and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; hence the name Maltalier!
A.C.A Pups in Western Australia and A.C.A Breeders Kennels in Victoria have been breeding this dog for about five years. It is one of the most popular of the cross-bred dogs and was developed in response to a demand for a small, low maintenance pet with a decent temperament. The Maltese, with its sometimes feisty nature was chosen because of its size and low maintenance. This is tempered with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a friendly, happy dog which, when it isn’t playing, is happy to lie around quietly and unobtrusively. Spark crossed with kindness. Perfect.
Variation is the theme. And with such a diversity in appearance between litter mates, choosing a puppy means you can find something that suits your specific needs. Natalie Denford, from A.C.A Pups, says that most puppies appear to take on a stronger influence from the Cavalier side. In particular the ears, eyebrows and colouring. There are four main colours:
Black and tan Blenheim (red and white) A tri-colour of white, red and tan and, Ruby
White pups, from the Maltese side, may also occur. However the Maltese influence is most apparent through the dilution of the classic Cavalier colours. The coat has variations of Cavalier feathering and may vary from mid-length to long. Height may vary from 25 cm to around 38 cm, the height of the standard Cavalier.
Maltese are active little dogs, though they also have a reputation for being snappy. The Cavalier is widely known to be a happy, carefree and pleasant dog – very calm and with low aggression levels. This cross breed carries the beneficial traits of both breeds, and with responsible breeding and the Cavalier influence, its temperament should be very stable. On the whole it is a very reasonable, attentive and happy dog, although one should always be careful to not leave any dog alone with young children.
The Maltalier has reasonable trainability and dogs have even progressed through agility and obedience classes. Like most dogs, they are at their most active when young, though once passed the age of five, many are happy to sleep all day.
Maltaliers are often bred back to Cavaliers, producing a 3/4 cross with a more distinct Cavalier type. This should further soften the dog’s temperament.
Health and lifespan
The offspring of two different pure breeds will often exhibit what’s called ‘hybrid vigour’ – enjoying the positive features of both parent breeds while avoiding some of the inherited problems which may trouble the purebred parents. Not all problems will be eliminated, but their tendency will be reduced.
One problem Cavaliers are known to suffer is a congenital heart disorder called Mitral Valve Disease. This disease may affect a great proportion of the breed and despite the benefit of hybrid vigour, this gene can occasionally carry across to the offspring. It is the responsibility of the breeder to ensure that breeding stock is cleared of this disease. This disease can be tested for at the first vaccination, and it is reasonable to assume that no affected dogs should be used for breeding.
Incidence of patella luxation (slipping kneecaps), though still known to occur on occasion are diminished due to the hybrid vigour. Expect a lifespan of 12 -15 years.
Cost and maintenance
Through A.C.A the cost is around $445 per pup. This includes first vaccination, a vet check, worming and 14 day after-purchase health guarantee. Should your puppy fall ill during the first two weeks, it will be examined free of charge by an A.C.A veterinarian.
The Maltese is a low shedder, the Cavalier a moderate shedder. If the coat is long, a weekly brush with a fine comb is recommended. Owners also trim the muzzle area and routinely clean the ears. If you don’t feel like trimming the coat, it can be clipped and still look attractive.
A great all-round, versatile dog for the young or old family. Appropriate for apartments, first dog owners and the elderly. Maltaliers aren’t incredibly active dogs and although they still love a play or a walk, they’re are just as happy to lie around at home.
We filmed this story in Perth with the staff of A.C.A pups and the many owners of Maltaliers. For more information about this or other designer cross-breeds, call:
Shop 19 Action Megacentre
Ellen Stirling Boulevard
Phone: (08) 9446 9144
A.C.A Breeders Kennels
5 Kent Avenue
Croydon, VIC, 3136
Phone: (03) 9723 9811
People in other states should try local pet shops in their area.