Although there are discrepancies as to the exact origin of the Maltese Bichon, the truth is that most agree that it comes from the Mediterranean basin. Considered to be one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, the origin of this lapdog dates back to 6000 BC. It was the Romans who took it to Asia, where it would later give rise to the Pekingese dog.
This canine family arose from the crossing of the extinct Barbet breed with the Mediterranean lapdogs, which gave rise to two groups. On the one hand, the poodles and, on the other hand, the bichons. In addition to those that occupy us today, also originated the Bichon Bolognese, the Bichon Havanese and Tenerife, the latter being the one that preceded the Bichon Frise of today, which managed to save itself from extinction thanks to its great popularity in France and its export to the United States.
APPEARANCE AND PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
Both breeds are small in size and do not usually weigh more than 5 kilos (11 pounds), but in general terms, the Bichon Frise is somewhat larger than the Bichon Maltese. While the former has a height of between 23 and 30 centimeters (9 and 11 inch) and a weight of between 3 and 5 kilos (6 and 11 pounds), the latter measures between 20 and 25 centimeters ( 7 and 10 inch) and weighs between 1.5 and 3 kilos (3 and 6 pounds).
But the biggest physical difference between the two varieties is, without a doubt, the type of fur since that is what distinguishes them at first sight. The Bichon Frise has a double layer mantle, one attached to the body and the other to the outside, with a strong and dense curly hair, similar to that of a poodle. In general, the Bichon Frise variety has shorter hair and, although it can be left long, giving the dog a very spongy appearance if it is brushed and trimmed, the truth is that its length does not reach that of the mantle of the Maltese.
The Maltese dog has a single layer smooth, thin and straight that stands out for its length, resembling the Yorkshire Terrier long hair. As for the color of their coat, that both are dogs completely white is one of their similarities, however, sometimes, the Bichon Maltese may present a slight shade in yellowish or peach in some areas.
CHARACTER AND BEHAVIOR
Both varieties are affectionate and family dogs with great adaptability to the environment, situations and people, but Maltese adapts better to changes than Frise. Similarly, Bichon Maltese has a more developed protective instinct, so they can become jealous and barking without proper socialization.
In that sense, training the Bichon Frise is much simpler than doing it with the Bichon Maltese, since, while the former is a gregarious dog, simple, playful, intelligent, obedient and not aggressive at all, that is, the perfect pet for someone who has never had a dog; with the second, of a more lively, vigilant and nervous temperament, more perseverance, patience and even an educator is needed, depending on what you want to teach him, because no bichon usually gives problems in terms of their behavior and are excellent pets.
EXERCISE AND NUTRITION
Being small dogs, neither bichon requires a high exercise routine. In fact, because they are so active, nervous, and playful, they don't need additional training. However, Bichon Frise and Maltese both love walks and outdoor games, so it's a good idea to take this pet out for more than just the strictly necessary walks.
As far as food is concerned, the Bichon Frise does not need a special diet, but, in the case of the Bichon Maltese, attention must be paid to crunchy foods so that it does not suffer from dental problems and it is also necessary to avoid overfeeding them.
CLEANLINESS AND SPECIFIC CARE
The main care required by bichons is that of their hair, which, on the other hand, makes them the pet suitable for allergic people, since they do not shed their hair and are hypoallergenic. Both need frequent brushing and cutting to avoid knots and look good.
However, due to their different characteristics, each variety has some care needs. The curly coat of the Bichon Frise must be brushed daily with a stiff bristle brush so that the hair is spongy. The ideal is to bathe him once a month with a dry shampoo and, to avoid stains on his silky white hair, it is advisable to trim the hair around the ears and eyes. As for the rest of the body, it is best to cut the hair with scissors following the contour of your figure.
The Bichon Maltese's hair is very soft so it should be brushed gently and every day with a comb for smooth hair. It is necessary to pay special attention to the cleaning of eyes and beard so that the hair of these areas is not dyed. In addition, it is also good to collect the hair of the head in a bun or a ponytail so that it does not cover the eyes. The Maltese coat is spectacular, but not as practical or comfortable for the care it requires, as it must be washed with dry shampoo regularly and dried properly. It will also be necessary to cut the hair of the ears and clean them well.
Both varieties of bichon are quite resistant, long-lived and healthy, but they also have certain conditions specific to the breed, especially related to the eyes. The Bichon Maltese can suffer from genetic ocular diseases, while the Bichon Frise can also present ocular problems such as lacrimal blockage or cataracts. As far as other ailments are concerned, the Bichon Maltese specimen may suffer from patellar luxation, dyskinesis, hydrocephalus and entropion, while the Bichon Frise variety may suffer from kneecap dislocation as well as episodes of epilepsy.