While the sex of a dog in many breeds is a very important consideration, this is not
particularly the case with the Maltese. The male Maltese makes just as loving, devoted
and trainable a companion as the female. In fact, there are some who believe a male
can be even more devoted to his master than a female.
There is one important point to consider in determining your choice between male and
female. While both must be trained not to relieve themselves just anywhere in the
home, males have a natural instinct to lift their legs and urinate to "mark" their home
territory. It seems confusing to many dog owners, but a male's marking of his home
turf has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not it is housebroken. The two
responses come from entirely different needs and must be dealt with in that
manner. Some dogs are more difficult to train not to mark within the confines of
the household than others. Males that are used for breeding are even more prone
to this response and are even harder to break of doing so.
On the other hand, females have their semiannual "heat" cycles once they have
reached sexual maturity. In the case of the female Maltese, this can occur for the
first time at about nine or ten months of age. These cycles are accompanied by a
vaginal discharge that creates the need to confine the female for about three weeks
so that she does not soil her surroundings. It must be understood the female has
no control over this bloody discharge so it has nothing to do with training.
While most Maltese are not normally left outdoors by themselves for long stretches
of time, this is one time a female should not be outdoors by herself for even a
brief moment or two. The need for confinement and keeping a careful watch
over the female in heat is especially important to prevent her from becoming pregnant
by some neighborhood dog. Equally dangerous to her well-being is the male that is
much larger than her. The dog could be too large to actually breed her and he
could seriously inquire or even kill her in his attempts to do so.
Both of these sexually related problems can be entirely eliminated by spaying the
female and neutering the male. Unless a Maltese has been purchased expressly
for breeding or showing from a breeder capable of making this judgment, the
dog should probably be sexually altered.