The Highland Maltie is a delightful and charming small dog with unique characteristics. Their friendly and affectionate nature and adorable appearance make them a popular choice for families and individuals alike.
Highland Malties inherit a blend of traits from both parent breeds, making them well-rounded companions. Their history as designer breeds reflects the ongoing desire to create dogs with the best qualities of their parent breeds and these dogs continue to bring joy to the households they join.
We’ll explore the Highland Maltie’s history, temperament, size and appearance, living conditions, training and exercise needs, health issues, lifespan, nutrition, grooming requirements, information on breeders and puppy costs, options for rescues and shelters, and their suitability as family pets.
The Highland Maltie is a product of crossing these two distinct and well-established breeds, the Westie and the Maltese. The goal of breeding Highland Malties was likely to combine the desirable traits of both parents, including the Westie’s spirited and independent nature and the Maltese’s affectionate and friendly demeanor. While the exact origins of this mixed breed are not well-documented, it’s essential to acknowledge that they represent a relatively recent development in the world of designer dogs, bred for their delightful personalities and appealing appearance.
The Highland Maltie has gained popularity as a domestic animal. To understand the history of the Highland Maltie, it’s essential to look at the histories of its parent breeds and how they came together to form this delightful mixed breed.
West Highland White Terrier (Westie) History
The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as the Westie, originated in Scotland. They were initially bred for a specific purpose: hunting small game, such as foxes and rodents. The Westie was initially called a Poltalloch Terrier, named after the location of their early breeding. Their distinctive color helped hunters distinguish them from their quarry, and their lively, spirited personality made them highly regarded.
Over time, Westies transitioned from being working dogs to becoming a beloved at-home breed. Their compact size, alertness, and confident demeanor contributed to their popularity as family pets. Kennel clubs officially recognized the Westie in the late 19th century, and they have remained popular ever since, known for their playful nature and spirited personality.
The Maltese is one of the oldest toy breeds, and its history traces back thousands of years. These small, elegant dogs are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region, particularly on the island of Malta, which is how they got their name.
Maltese have been cherished by nobility and royalty throughout history. They were considered status symbols in ancient civilizations, including the Greeks and Egyptians. These dogs were often depicted in art and literature and known for their beauty, elegance, and affectionate nature.
The breed was officially recognized and standardized in the 19th century, and their popularity continued to grow. Their long, silky white coat and sweet temperament made them highly sought after by those looking for a lapdog and devoted dog.
Highland Malties are known for their friendliness and affectionate nature. They typically form strong bonds with their humans and enjoy being part of the family’s activities. These dogs are quite playful and energetic. They have a youthful and lively disposition, often maintaining their spirited nature well into adulthood.
Highland Malties inherit the alertness and watchful nature of the Westie. They can be quite vigilant and often bark to notify their owners of any perceived environmental threats or changes. This makes them decent watchdogs, even though they are small in size. They are also independent, likely inherited from the Westie. While they enjoy human interaction, they also have a certain level of self-reliance. This means they may occasionally have a stubborn streak regarding training.
Size & Appearance
Highland Malties are small dogs with a well-proportioned and compact build. The parent breeds influence their size and generally weigh between 10 and 20 pounds, some falling slightly outside this range. The weight can vary depending on genetics, diet, and exercise. Highland Malties typically stand around 9 to 12 inches tall at the shoulder. Like weight, height can also vary among individual dogs.
They often have small, triangular ears that stand erect, resembling the Westie’s ears, and tails are usually carried high and may be straight or slightly curved, reflecting the Westie’s tail carriage. Highland Malties’ eyes are typically dark and expressive, with an alert and friendly expression, and the nose is usually black or dark in color, in line with both parent breeds. The face of a Highland Maltie often exhibits a combination of the Westie’s confident expression and the Maltese’s sweet, friendly demeanor.
Coat & Colors
Highland Malties typically have a coat that blends the wiry, dense fur of the Westie and the long, silky, and straight coat of the Maltese. The color is usually white or predominantly white, although some color variations may occur. The coat’s texture can vary, with some leaning more towards the Westie’s texture while others have a softer, silkier coat reminiscent of the Maltese.
Exercise & Living Conditions
Highland Malties are adaptable dogs and can thrive in various living conditions, usually making them suitable for both apartment and house living. However, they need ample exercise and playtime regardless of where they live. If you have a yard, it should be securely fenced, as these dogs may have a strong prey drive inherited from the Westie and might be tempted to chase small animals.
They thrive on human interaction and may become bored or anxious without challenging toys. Separation anxiety can be an issue and something to consider if you work long hours away from home. Socialization and interaction with their owners are also vital to their well-being.
Training a Highland Maltie can be a rewarding experience, but it may come with challenges due to their independent and occasionally stubborn nature. Start socializing your Highland Maltie from a young age. Expose them to various people, animals, and environments to help them develop good social skills and reduce the likelihood of fear or aggression issues.
Positive reinforcement training is the best way to train your dog, especially as they can be sensitive to harsher training methods. Use praise, treats, and toys to reward good behavior and reinforce training commands. Avoid harsh punishment or scolding, as it can make them resistant to training.
As this breed doesn’t like to be left alone for too long, it’s a great idea to crate-train them. Make the crate comfortable and positive, and avoid using it as punishment. Highland Malties can be independent and may not always respond immediately to training. Be patient, stay consistent, and use positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.
The average lifespan of a Highland Maltie is around 12 to 15 years. They can live a long and happy life with proper care and attention to their health. Highland Malties, like all dog breeds, can be susceptible to specific health issues. It’s vital for owners to be aware of these potential conditions and to provide appropriate care and regular veterinary check-ups.
Here’s an overview of common health issues and conditions that Highland Malties may face:
Due to their West Highland White Terrier ancestry, Highland Malties can be prone to skin problems. These may include allergies, hot spots, and dry or itchy skin. Regular grooming and proper skin care can help manage these issues.
Their small size and flat faces may make this brachycephalic breed more likely to have respiratory issues, especially in the heat. So, be especially cautious during extreme temperatures.
Both the Westie and the Maltese are known to have eye issues. Highland Malties may be at risk for cataracts, glaucoma, and dry eye conditions. Regular eye exams by a veterinarian are essential to monitor and address eye-related concerns.
Patellar luxation is common in small dog breeds, where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and early intervention can help prevent or manage this condition.
Dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease can be expected in small dogs. Regular dental care, including brushing and professional cleanings, is crucial to maintain good oral health.
Some small breeds, including the Maltese, may be at risk for heart conditions like mitral valve disease. Regular vet check-ups and screenings can help detect and manage these issues early.
Highland Malties can be prone to allergies, including food allergies and environmental allergies. Allergies may lead to skin, digestive, and other health concerns.
Hip dysplasia can affect small dogs, including Highland Malties. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and a healthy weight can help reduce the risk of this condition.
Obesity is common in Highland Malties, as it is for many small breeds. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise is essential to prevent obesity-related health problems.
A balanced diet is essential to support their energy levels, maintain a healthy weight, and prevent obesity. Measuring their food portions is crucial. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate daily amount of food based on age, weight, and activity level. Different dogs may have different dietary needs, which can change over time.
Choosing an age-appropriate diet is essential, especially during their first year. It should also be a high-quality diet that meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) standards. Look for high-quality ingredients such as animal-based protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Consider one of the country’s leading fresh subscription services, such as The Farmer’s Dog.
Grooming is necessary for caring for Highland Malties, but it depends on the type of coat they inherit.
Brush their coat regularly, ideally daily or at least several times weekly. A slicker brush or a pin brush is suitable for a Westie’s wiry coat. For Maltese’s long, silky coat, a slicker brush or a comb is ideal.
Bathe your Highland Maltie every three to four weeks or as needed, given their activity level and how dirty they get. Use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner to keep their coat clean and healthy. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent skin irritation.
If your Highland Maltie has a coat that’s more like the Maltese’s long, silky fur, you may need to trim it periodically to prevent matting and to keep it at a manageable length. Professional grooming or trimming around the eyes and paws may be required.
Highland Malties may be prone to tear staining due to their Maltese heritage. Wipe their eyes daily with a damp cloth or specialized eye-cleaning solution to remove stains and prevent infection.
By tending to their coat, ears, teeth, and overall hygiene, you can ensure they remain comfortable and happy.
Breeders & Puppy Costs
When searching for a Highland Maltie puppy, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder who follows ethical breeding practices and cares for the well-being of the dogs. Be aware of the tactics irresponsible breeders use.
The cost of a Highland Maltie puppy can vary depending on factors like the breeder’s reputation, the puppy’s pedigree, the location, and the puppy’s specific qualities. You can expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $2,500 or more for a well-bred Highland Maltie puppy.
Higher costs may be associated with puppies from breeders who conduct thorough health testing, provide early socialization, and offer a health guarantee. Extremely low prices could be a red flag for irresponsible breeding practices.
You should consider the costs of getting your home ready for a puppy and ongoing costs such as food, preventative medicatons, and pet insurance.
Rescues & Shelters
Highland Malties are a rare mix breed, so finding one in a rescue shelter might be a challenge. If you find one you like, snap them up quickly because they won’t hang around long. Alternatively, try online rescue organizations for their parent breeds:
As A Family Pet
The Highland Maltie can make an excellent family pet. Here are some qualities that contribute to their ability to act as qualified family companions:
- Friendly and affectionate, forming strong bonds with family members.
- Playful and energetic, making them great playmates for children.
- Good with children and other pets when properly socialized.
- Alert and watchful, serving as decent watchdogs.
- Adaptable to different living conditions, including apartments and houses.
- Loyal and devoted to their human family.
- Sensitive to the emotions and moods of their owners, providing comfort
- Territorial and protective, helping to keep the family safe.
- Sociable and adaptable to various environments and lifestyles.
- Vocal, often alerting the family to visitors or unusual sounds.
- Independent but social, balancing self-reliance with a desire for human interaction.
The Highland Maltie is a breed that can bring joy, affection, and loyalty to the families they join. With proper care, attention, and love, they can provide years of companionship and happiness, making them a wonderful choice for those seeking a small, endearing family pet.