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Maltese Colors: Do They Come In Anything But White?

Maltese Colors: Do They Come In Anything But White?

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You’ve probably come across ads such as rare color Maltese for sale, black Maltese, or even brown Maltese puppies for sale. But, have you ever wondered if brown or black Maltese dogs actually exist?

Sadly, for some, the answer is that unless you paint the dog brown, blue, red, or black yourself, there is no chance that a dog is a purebred Maltese.

The only allowed Maltese colors are white, white with lemon, white with tan, white with pale orange, and white with cream. However, this highly depends on the dog show criteria and which kennel or association the show rules are being run under.

Note that these color variations are only accepted in the case of purebred Maltese pups. But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Maltese mixed breeds with black, brown, or some other color on its coat.

With this article, we aim to answer the common questions regarding the colors of these toy dogs, and remove all the rumors and speculations surrounding the rare colors of this dog breed.

Maltese breed overview

maltese puppy with dark blue background


• These pups are eager to please their owners, but they can be difficult to housetrain, so don’t beat yourself up if your pooch has an accident or two inside the house. Crate training is advised.

• Dogs of this breed are prone to chills, especially when walking in damp areas. They are also susceptible to separation anxiety, so make sure you don’t leave them alone for long periods.

• Malteses with long hair can get sunburned on their backs where the hair is parted.

• Because these dogs are generally sensitive, and have a small size and a delicate structure, they aren’t really the ideal pet for households with toddlers or small children.

• Because these dogs don’t have an undercoat, they are considered low shedders, making them the perfect addition to households with allergy sufferers.

• Some of the potential health issues of the Maltese breed include ear problems, eye problems, teeth and gum disease, luxating patella, and bladder stones.

• Maltese are athletic and talented dogs, which make them excellent competitors in dog sports, such as obedience and agility.

• Some pups of this breed can have a delicate stomach, and may be picky eaters. Make sure the dog food you buy is high-quality and has all the necessary vitamins, minerals, and nutrients a canine body needs.

Colors of Maltese: history

dog playing with leaves in woods

The Maltese dog breed is one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, dating back to over 8000 years ago. This ancient breed that originated from Malta had quite a bit of development, which led to the soft, white coat that they sport today.

These dogs were not always found with a pure white coat. Between 1902 and 1913, the Kennel Club (United Kingdom kennel club) allowed all colors in dog shows. A Maltese with a coat color other than white was reported to have a much coarser coat, not as silky as their white cousins.

A few decades before that, in 1877, a pure white Maltese pup was shown at Westminster, and at that time, the Maltese were known as Maltese Lion Dogs. A couple of years later, in 1879, a white dog of this breed with black ears was shown at the same location, and was labeled as a Maltese Skye Terrier.

Once the breeders in the United States caught a glimpse of the Maltese breed and saw their potential, crossbreeding started to perfect the breed. It is believed that the goal they set to achieve was to produce a dog smaller in size and with a completely white coat. For reference, the dogs that were shown at Westminster weighed over ten pounds, and were not pure white.

One piece of evidence of crossbreeding shows that Maltese were crossed with Pomeranians, which produced black puppies. However, the most common Maltese mix in the United States from 1900 to 1910 was a Maltese/Poodle mix, also known as the Maltipoo.

A key thing to note is that during this period, there were very few Maltese pups registered with the American Kennel Club (AKC). In fact, records show that there were just six puppies registered in 1902, and then only fifty in the 1950s.

After the 1950s, the Maltese breed evolved into solid white dogs. However, there can be a touch of other colors, which is a remnant of their rich history.

Accepted colors of Maltese dogs

dog laying on leather sofa

Although they are known as pure white pups, other color combinations are accepted, and can be found on the Maltese breed.

As far as the American Kennel Club is concerned, there are three accepted colors, and one marking. Solid white is the only standard color labeled with an “S”. The other two colors are also accepted, but are labeled with an “A” for alternate.

Here are the three colors and color combinations accepted by the AKC:

• White (color code S 199)

• White and tan (color code A217)

• White and lemon (color code A211)

Note that this kennel club prefers that any tan or lemon hues fall on the ears of the dog only.

The only marking that the AKC allows is black points, with the code S 019. This is a standard marking, and it refers to the eye rims, lips, paw pads, and nose being pure black. This is the preferred combination for dog shows.

Per the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI), white is the preferred color for the Maltese breed, but pale ivory (cream) is also allowed. Additionally, traces of pale orange are also allowed on the dog’s coat, but with points deducted.

What colors are Maltese dogs

maltese dog running outside on grass

Eye color

Maltese pups always come with a round, dark set of eyes. This includes black and a very dark shade of brown. Green, hazel, and blue are not found within this breed.

Belly color

A Maltese dog’s belly will usually be light pink in color. However, as the pup grows older, the pigmentation on the belly can darken often due to exposure to sunlight.

You might think that this is something that won’t happen to your pooch as it hardly ever lays on its back outside. However, even if its stomach is never facing the sun, a small amount of sunlight is still reflected off the ground. These rays of light hit your pup’s tummy and gradually cause a color change.

There can also be black, brown, or grey spots on the belly. These may fade away in the winter or increase in the summer. Fortunately, there are some tricks you can use to help fade black or brown spots that develop on your Maltese skin.

Keep in mind that if the colored spots on your dog’s belly are raised, you should see it as a red flag. Make sure to routinely run your hand over your pup’s belly to ensure that no spots are sticking out. In case you do notice a change on one of the spots, be sure to consult your vet as soon as possible.

Nail color

Many Maltese owners wonder what color their dog’s nails should be. The American Kennel Club does not have a standard for this, and as far as they are concerned, any nail color is accepted.

However, the Federation Cynologique Internationale does have something to say when it comes to Maltese nails: “Nails should also be black, or at least of a dark color.”

This holds true in most cases, and the majority of Maltese pooches come with nails that are black or of dark tone in the grey range. A small percent of these toy dogs can come with cream or light tan-colored nails.


maltese puppy running outside on grass

It is not uncommon for a dog of this breed to have a slight color change from its puppy years to adulthood. Some shading may appear on the coat, and the slight spots of tan or lemon may increase as the dog matures.

However, there are cases of discoloration in the Maltese breed that have nothing to do with genetics. Fortunately, in many of these situations, there are certain steps you can take to bring your Maltese back to a crisp, white color.

The coat of your pooch may become discolored over time. This can include brown or tan spots or markings around the paws, or there may be some yellowing on the dog’s chin. You may even notice the overall coat color to be darker or even go from snow white to yellowish or cream.

This may be due to the fact that years of staining via debris, dirt, and other natural elements gradually affect your Maltese’s coat color. This color change, however, is not something that happens overnight, and most owners don’t even notice it happening.

Some owners state that they didn’t even know the color change was happening until they looked at older photos of their pooch while it was still young. When they compared the coat color in those photos with the current color on their Maltese, they noticed that the coat had discolored.

The solution?

Here is what to do if your pup’s coat has discolored and you want to bring it to its former glory:

1. Use a high-quality dog shampoo that does not dye the hair, but is strong enough to remove stains from the coat. Also, make sure it has ingredients that enhance the white color.

2. Wipe your dog’s body daily. This will ensure that any small particle of sand or dirt, bits of sprayed urine, and any other debris that could cover up the white hairs get wiped away in between baths. There are many high-quality grooming wipes that are ideal for daily wiping.

3. Brush your Maltese coat every other day if your pooch has a short or medium-length haircut. If your Maltese has long hair, you should brush it daily.

4. Never give your dog unfiltered tap water. The minerals and toxins found in most tap waters can affect the coat color and lead to health issues.

Discoloration around the eyes

When you have a dog with a white coat such as a Maltese, a Shih Tzu, a Poodle, a Samoyed, or a German Shepherd, it can be difficult to keep the coat free of staining.

In most cases, especially in the Maltese breed, red, rust, or brown coloration around the eyes can occur due to tear staining. Tear staining is a term used to describe moisture from the eyes causing gradual discoloration, with red yeast being the main culprit.

How to deal with tear staining

The best way to tackle this problem is to use a high-quality tear stain remover. Once you clear up the area around your pup’s eyes, use alcohol-free wipes on the area two or three times per day to prevent stains from reoccurring.

Nose color change

white and brown maltese puppy

Your Maltese may not have a black nose for one of two reasons:

1. It may be genetic. Since the parti gene, which is responsible for producing lemon or tan coats, is present in this dog breed, it can also affect your pup’s nose.

2. The other reason for a change in your dog’s nose color may be gradual fading that is often caused by environmental factors. This type of color change is often irreversible.

How to deal with nose color change

Well, there are a number of things you can do, and here are some of them:

1. Stop using plastic bowls! Even plastic bowls that are BPA-free can still cause a reaction when in contact with your dog, and cause the nose to fade over the course of years or even months. Try to use stainless-steel bowls instead.

2. The second part is a bit tricky, and it consists of several things that should be done. Both overexposure to the outside elements and lack of sunlight can cause your pup’s nose to change color. So, here is what you should do:

3. Make sure your pooch gets outside exercise at least twice per day throughout the year. If a dog stays inside too much, especially during the winter, its nose color can begin to fade. If your Maltese is like other dogs of this breed, it won’t be fond of the cold weather like some other breeds are. So, you can consider getting some cute but functional clothing to keep it warm.

4. On the other hand, if your Maltese gets enough outdoor activity, but its nose has turned light brown or pink, it may be due to the years of exposure taking their toll. The sun naturally dries out a dog’s nose, cold winds chap the nose constantly, and there are other elements that can cause the skin to become very dry.

These factors combined gradually peel your Maltese nose, and the top black layer eventually gives way to a lighter shade underneath. To tackle this problem, you can start using a quality nose balm that protects the sensitive skin of your small dog, and works to fix dry-nose issues.

Maltese different colors

black and white maltese puppy with white background

Is there a black Maltese puppy?

The first thing you should know is that there are no purebred black Maltese dogs that meet the breed standards. However, there are certain Maltese crossbreeds seen both today and historically, which are, in a sense, a part of the Maltese breed.

A Maltese crossbreed or Maltese mixed-breed dog is an offspring of a Maltese parent and a dog from another breed. The common name for these pups is a Maltese mix. There are many types of these mixes, and some of them can have black puppies. For instance, the cross between a Maltese and a Pomeranian can yield puppies with a black coat that they inherit from their Pomeranian parent.

This means that if you come across a breeder that advertises black Maltese puppies, the chances are that the dog is a mixed breed and the breeder is trying to profit off of unsuspecting people. You should be very cautious when buying a dog of any breed as some breeders will use every trick in the book to sell their litter. They will not refrain from using the color variation of a mixed breed pooch to call the dog unique or rare and then try to put a high price tag on it.

If something like this happens to you, you should inform a kennel club and report the breeder so that they are aware of what is happening and can take certain measures. The canine industry does not need false marketing strategies as well as fraudulent claims that a crossbreed pup is a rare purebred Maltese.

The main reason why these acts of calling a Maltese mix a rare purebred dog are so often is that they are the exact opposite of a purebred white Maltese, which is the most often color found on them.

Is there a brown Maltese puppy?

brown maltese dog walking

Similar to what we have with the so-called black Maltese puppy, the brown puppy is probably a crossbreed between a Maltese and another dog breed. The fact is that there are no Maltese dogs that are classified as purebred.

In most cases, a brown Maltese puppy is a cross between a Maltese and some other toy breed such as a Shih Tzu, a Pomeranian, or even a Toy Poodle. Keep in mind that today, we have many crossbreeds that are produced by mixing a Maltese with another purebred dog in order to create dogs for which breeders can charge a high price.

During the 2000s crossbreeding became a popular trend, and a lot of both reputable and not so reputable breeders started creating new mixed breeds with the idea that they could advertise them as rare. Since the supply was not abundant, these pups would be highly sought after; thus, fetching a high price.

A thing to note is that most dog shows and kennel clubs do not accept these sort of mixed breed Maltese pups as purebred Maltese, so you will not be able to show your dog if you purchase one of them. With that said, there is nothing wrong with owning a brown Maltese mix. The only thing you should make sure of is knowing which health issues and diseases to keep an eye out for.

Even though mixed-breed dogs are usually healthier than their parent breeds due to hybrid vigor, there are certain illnesses that can be inherited by the pup. Different breeds are susceptible to different health issues, so make sure you are on top of your puppy’s heritage before you decide to bring it home. If, however, that is not possible, then your veterinarian can do a genetics test to determine the parent breeds of your furry friend.

What is an albino Maltese puppy?

albino maltese dog laying in sun

Albino dogs suffer from a condition called Albinism. This is caused by a lack of pigmentation and melanin in the dog’s body. Because of this condition, a dog’s black points and dark hues change their color to pink.

Albinism can occur in the Maltese breed, though it is fairly rare. These canines have been purposefully bred to remove the albino traits from their genes, and they are praised for having such a striking contrast between the white fur and the black points.

Even though quite rare, an albino Maltese can still be born, but it is not accepted in dog shows, and it will usually be a family pet. Albino dogs should never be used for breeding purposes either.

Albino pups of this breed will come with pink rings around their eyes and mouth. Their noses might also be pink, and they will have pink on their paws. Also, albino dogs will almost never have any tans, markings, or spots on their coat unless they are also pink in color.

What is the cost of rare colors in Maltese mixes?

owner holding maltese dog

The price of a Maltese puppy can vary depending on whether the dog is purebred or a mixed breed. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to buy or adopt a purebred white Maltese. On the other hand, if you wish to have a dog of a different color, you might have to go for one of the Maltese mixes.

Another factor that influences the price is the size of the pup. Many Maltese enthusiasts would pay a lot of money for a teacup dog of this breed. This means that the smaller the dog, the bigger the price.

If you want a Maltese-looking pooch with a black coat, you will probably have to spend more money compared to buying a purebred Maltese. This is simply due to supply and, at the end of the day, these dogs are rare.

Over the years, celebrities with toy dogs have promoted the industry and caused a massive increase in demand. But, since there are only so many puppies that can be born per litter, the supply is low.

We would advise anyone who is looking for a new Maltese pooch to try adopting a rescue dog. There are many purebred and mixed breed Malteses that have been surrendered and are looking for a loving home.

By adopting, you are actively reducing the demand for the breeders, which will help bring down the overall price for everyone. Moreover, you are helping a beautiful puppy get a forever home and a family that loves him.

Always try to find a rescue dog first, if it is possible, and only when you have nowhere else to look should you give in and buy a dog from a breeder. This will save you a lot of money as you will not be chasing the latest trend being promoted by the breeding industry.

Barbichon dog types

havanese dog laying in grass

There are certain dog breeds that are closely related to the Maltese breed. They are, in no particular order: the Bichon Frise, the Bolognese, the Bolonka, the Coton de Tulear, and the Havanese. All of them, including the Maltese, make up the Barbichon dog group. Let’s see what colors these dog breeds come in:

1. Havanese.

First up – the Havanese. These lovely pooches come in a wide range of colors, including silver, chocolate, cream, gold, white, red, and black!

2. Bichon Frise.

These pups, on the other hand, are usually only found in the white coat color. On some occasions, they may come with apricot or cream colorings on their coat. However, as the American Kennel Club states in their breed standard document, any marking or spot in excess of ten percent of the entire body is a fault.

3. Bolognese

Another purely white dog breed that somewhat resembles its Maltese cousin is the Bolognese. These pups are almost always pure white, with the exception of sometimes having a very slight shade of ivory.

4. Bolonka

By far, the rarest dog in this group is the Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka, or more commonly known as simply the Bolonka. These canines were almost extinct during and after the cold war. The coat colors that these dogs can have are brown, grey, black, and red.

5. Coton De Tulear

The last one in the bunch is the Coton De Tulear, which comes almost exclusively in pure white color. On rare occasions, you can find tan or grey hairs around the ear, similar to its Maltese cousins.

What are the colors of Yorkies?

Yorkie dog laying in grass

In general, there are four different color varieties accepted by the American Kennel Club when it comes to the Yorkshire Terrier breed, and they are the following:

• Black and tan

• Black and gold

• Blue and tan

• Blue and gold

There are also some nonstandard combinations where brown, white, or red is mixed in with the standard colors.

The color of a Yorkie’s coat depends on the genes passed on from its parents as well as its age. The color variations could also result from a dog having an impure bloodline or even the size of the litter.

In addition to the colors we mentioned above, both male and female Yorkies can come in rare coat colors such as:

• Parti Yorkie

• Chocolate / Brown Yorkie

• Golden Yorkie

• Red Yorkie

Even though there is no dog breed that is 100% hypoallergenic, Yorkshire Terriers come pretty close to that percent.

Their hair resembles human hair much more than most other dog breeds, making these dogs great for allergy sufferers.

But, if you or someone in your household suffers from dog-related allergies, be prepared to part with a hefty amount of money for a Yorkie as these dogs can be quite expensive.

What colors are Maltese: conclusion

two maltese dogs standing

Photo from: @maltese_breeds

If you are not going to breed or parade your pooch in dog shows, then the coat color of your Maltese is not going to matter at all.

Even though your brown, black, or any other color dog might not be a true purebred Maltese, it will always give you love and devotion that can not be replaced.

However, the important thing to remember is that mixed breed Maltese dogs can come with some health issues. This means you should keep a close eye on the susceptible illnesses from both parent breeds.

At the end of the day, there is no reason why you should ever think less of your dog if it isn’t purebred. Some of the best, most lovable and affectionate pups are crossbreeds, and today, there is a whole market dedicated to Maltese mixes that tries to create new breeds for people to love!