How Do and How Much Do Maltese Sleep? 5 Sleeping Positions Examined

A favorite pastime of many dog owners is to observe and ponder about their dog’s sleeping behavior. Given the fact that an average adult dog typically spends up to 12-14 hours a day sleeping in their adulthood. As a result, owners will often find their dog snoozing more often than not.

On top of that, dogs don’t need a good, predictable sleeping routine (which their human owners DO typically need) to function effectively in their waking hours. Of course, not all dogs are born and made equal. For example, bigger, non-working breeds tend to hit the sack more regularly than their smaller counterparts which tally up to a total figure of 18 hours daily.

So how then does your little toy Maltese hold up, and what can you understand about how your Maltese sleeps? A healthy Maltese dog should be able to sleep for around 10-12 hours during their adulthood and more in their infancy or senior years. A happy and comfortable Maltese will sleep in different positions depending on their mood and environment.

Just like how sleep requirements vary from person to person, so can it differ from dog to dog, breed to breed and indeed Maltese to Maltese. However, the point of this article isn’t to give a complete breakdown of what constitutes an appropriate ‘sleep’ habit of a Maltese. Rather, we want to take a closer look into the regular sleeping habits of the Maltese and what they might mean.

Hopefully, the following information lets you as a vigilant Maltese owner to keep an eye out for any abnormal sleeping behaviors of your Maltese. After all, mummy/daddy knows best!

Maltese Sleeping Requirements in a Nutshell

Any dog’s sleeping habits will vary from household to household and day to day. Other than the 8 night hours sleeping when their human owners are also asleep, a dog needs to spend their daylight hours either taking regular naps or finding something to do (usually with their human owners).

A dog will find this balance naturally in a comfortable and non-disruptive environment on their own. Although I always liked to joke about how we could use Maltese as potential sources of perpetual energy, they too need to commit to regular, healthy amounts of sleep. They need:

  • 18-20 hours of sleep as young puppies (under 6 months old)
  • 12-18 hours of sleep between puppyhood and adulthood (6-12 months old)
  • 10-12 hours of sleep as a fully grown adult (between 1 to 8 years old)
  • 14+ hours in their senior years (8+ years old)

Most notably, your Maltese will have a high variability of sleep requirements when they are transitioning to a full adult dog and are also adjusting to their household energy levels, and the environment as their puppy-like energy tapers off. This quantity should be divided into a good portion of sleep at night, roughly 4-8 hours, and then the remaining amount is made up throughout the day as naps.

It is not uncommon for energetic breeds like the Maltese to go ‘hard and fast’ during daytime activities, only to find them drifting off to dreamland not too long afterward, so they are primed for more action. As a result, small, toy breeds like the Maltese tend to gain a reputation for being hyperactive because they retain their puppy-like behavior. In contrast, bigger breeds tend to this trait as they become adults.

Next, we’ll explore some ways Maltese dogs sleep and how you might make their quality of sleep better.

Lethargy versus Sleep Deprivation

Before I continue, I’d also like to quickly make a distinction between the terms “sleep deprivation” and “lethargy” in your Maltese. The former is merely a set of symptoms that result due to an inadequate amount of sleep, poor quality sleep or both and can manifest in many ways, such as grumpy, antisocial or aggressive behavior. They may also have difficulty performing their usual tasks and may seem forgetful.

Lethargy, on the other hand, can occur because of a lack of quality sleep, but can also be a result of external factors such an illness, animal bites (e.g., snakes) or poisoning from eating inappropriate foods. The dog may attempt to make up for this by sleeping more than usual and can result in the two being mixed up and confused.

In either case, if you see anything abnormal about your dog, especially if it occurred suddenly, always consult your vetDo not try your hand at self-diagnoses on the internet and try to perform home remedies. Do your due diligence and seek professional advice if you feel like your Maltese warrants medical attention and is not recovering with time.

5 Common Sleeping Positions of Maltese Dogs

Maltese dogs are companion dogs and are best suited to a smaller, comfortable, secure, indoor environment, making them great apartment dogs. They are sometimes found in intriguing sleeping postures. Here are five examples of common Maltese sleeping positions and what they may be telling you.

1) The Side Sleeper

The side sleeper is a fairly common sleeping position and is a position that indicates that your Maltese is feeling safe and comfortable. This is because a dog is typically very wary of its vulnerable underside and is now exposing their belly to their surroundings as they nap.

The side sleeper is temperature neutral, so your Maltese will neither be actively trying to cool off or conserve heat by sleeping this way. It is typically used for naps although sleeping for long periods of time this way isn’t uncommon.

You’ll commonly see this position when your Maltese is laying on or against the sofa, their dog bed or some other soft surface. Sometimes it might do it in somewhat troublesome locations, such as in front of a doorway, along the aisle or under the desk where your foot would usually rest.

If your Maltese is a relatively new introduction to the family, the day you see it happily napping away like so is great news. Your Maltese is tightly bonded with your family and well adjusted to its environment.

2) The Ball Position

Sometimes also known as the ‘donut,’ ‘bagel’ or simply the ‘curled up’ position, the ball is an excellent way for the Maltese to try and stay warm. Sometimes they may also sleep like this in a setting where it doesn’t feel completely relaxed, such as when house guests are over for the evening.

You may also observe that the dog will have tucked its paws with the head resting on its tail, thereby protecting its extremities and underbelly simultaneously. That being said, none of this is any real concern if you see your Maltese sleeping like so from time to time.

Dogs will often alternate their sleeping postures until they find a suitable way to get some restful sleep and the ball happens to be a very comfortable position for many dogs to get some quality rest. Because sleeping as a ball makes the dog seem so small and diminutive, it carries the benefit of looking super cute and cuddly.

Just don’t go disturbing it if it is already deep asleep. Let sleeping dogs lie!

3) The Lion Position

The lion pose is sometimes just an intermediary position. That is, the dog often transitions from this lion position to another, such as the side sleeper should they require deeper sleep. Otherwise, your Maltese is probably just trying to get some essential rest or light sleep, and you may sometimes observe your pooch eyeing the activity around it (e.g., when you walk past).

A Maltese in this position will have its front and hind legs oriented in a way such that the paws are in contact with the ground surface. This position maximizes agility and flexibility by allowing the Maltese to quickly spring up and follow his or her owner if it thinks there is activity it can engage in.

In summary, when you see this position, it usually means your Maltese is not too tired and may even be bored, mainly if it has been ignored for some time. If you find your Maltese is eyeing you attentively while “resting,” it may be a good idea to take it for some exercise if the situation permits. Otherwise, you may find your Maltese adjusting into a more comfortable posture (or location) for an extended, fitful slumber.

4) The Belly Position

A common and amusing position that a Maltese can be found in, particularly after some energetic running around. It may look from above like a ‘superman’ pose where the front legs are stretched out in front of their heads, and hind legs are similarly out past their tails. The belly position allows the Maltese to cool itself off more efficiently by maximizing surface area contact with the colder ground – a tiled, shady and sometimes windy area is a favorite.

You may witness this occurring fairly regularly with a Maltese, compared to other dogs if you own any (or have observed them). Their small stature most likely allows them the ease and flexibility to perform this pose, not that I am complaining! I take it as a sign of a happy Maltese.

5) The Back-to-Back

Hmm… something warm? Better smoosh myself against it. A somewhat intimate position between Maltese and other dogs, cats, humans, etc. – the back-to-back position is possibly one of the most comfortable (and warm) ways your Maltese can sleep. Exchange of body warmth is easily facilitated this way and allows the Maltese to stay warmer on chilly days.

Feel free to extend a gentle hand on the side or belly of your Maltese the next time this happens. You might find that your dog will be comfortable with this light pressure and is just another sign that your Maltese feels safe and protected around you.

This position extends back in their ancestry as social pack animals where snuggling was commonplace for both protection and warmth from the elements. Another theory is that puppies snuggle back-to-back for similar reasons and as a result, this behavior is carried over to adulthood. Whatever the reason, I can’t say I’ve ever complained when this happens. Except perhaps when the dog lets one silently rip…

Further Reading

PetMD – “Why Does Your Dog Sleep Like That?” – Link:
Terribly Terrier – “Why Do Dogs Sleep So Much?” – Link: