Breed VS Breed


In the last comparison blog,  we discussed the Bernese Mountain Dog vs. the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. We will consider the similarities and differences between the Maltese and the Bichon Frise this time. Let’s take a look!

Brief History of the Maltese

Breed historians primarily believe that the ancestors of the Maltese breed were brought to the islands of Malta via Phoenician trade routes. These dogs were often described as small and mostly white, with shaggy or long coats. As far back as 1000 BCE, the Phoenicians used the island as a stopover on their trade routes between various parts of the Mediterranean and Cornwall. History shows that small white dogs were used to keep the Phoenician trade ships free of vermin, in addition to serving as companions to the sailors and the land-dwelling natives. Trade and the invasions of other empires brought the Maltese out from the island of Malta into the world, where demand for the small, white lapdogs only increased. Originally occurring in any color until 1954, the standard now requires the coat to be solid white. Today, the little Maltese is one of the most well-recognized breeds of dog in the world. He is well-known for his luxurious long coat and endearing personality.

Brief History of the Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is an ancient breed of the “bichon” family, with bichon being the Middle French word meaning “small long-haired lapdog.” The exact origin of this merry breed remains a mystery. However, it is believed to have originated in the central Mediterranean, Sicily, Egypt, and various parts of Europe. Between 1789 and 1799, the breed lost its luxurious position during the French Revolution and was tossed out onto the streets. Yet, like all good dogs, the Bichon could not be kept down. Soon, the Bichon Frise’s charming demeanor attracted the attention of commoners, peasants, street vendors, and circus performers. Today, the Bichon is a popular dog breed enjoyed by people of different socioeconomic backgrounds. They are still renowned for their beauty, charm, and loving demeanor.


One similarity between these breeds is that they share the same breed group of Companion and Toy Breeds. These two are also both bichon-type breeds. This means that they are a descendent of “the barbichon family of dogs, which in turn descends from the barbet, a large water dog.”

These breeds are also very similar in height and weight. Maltese males can weigh from 6 to 9 pounds and stand from 8 to 10 inches in height. Females can weigh from 6 to 9 pounds and stand from 7 to 9 inches in height. Bichon Frise males can weigh from 7 to 12 pounds and stand from 9 to 12 inches in height. Females can weigh from 7 to 12 pounds and stand from 9 to 12 inches in height.


One way to tell the difference between these two breeds is by their coats. The Maltese’s coat is usually straighter compared to the curlier fur of the Bichon Frise. They also have different coat colors. Maltese dogs are pale ivory white to pure white, with or without minimal traces of pale cream shades with black points. Light tan, pale orange, biscuit, or lemon on the ears is permissible, but never with patches of color on the tail, body, limbs, or face. The Bichon Frise’s coat should be white; however, shadings of light tan, biscuit, cream, or apricot on the ears or body are permissible.

Another difference comes from the origin of these breeds. The Maltese breed dates back thousands of years and was commonly used as companions and for hunting small game, like rats. These dogs can be found in the art and history of many cultures, including places like Egypt and Europe. The Bichon Frise, on the other hand, was used for hunting animals like rats, just like the Maltese breed, but were also prized by royalty and used as circus performers. They were originally bred in France and Spain and have been around for a long time, but not quite as long as the Maltese breed. 


Both of these dogs make for excellent companions. Unlike other small companion and terrier breeds, the Maltese are well-known for being calm, gentle, and amiable with other dogs and small animals. The Bichon Frise is renowned for its gentle, merry, playful, and friendly temperament. Their intelligence and eagerness to be with their family make them great companions. 


Click here for the complete Maltese breed standard.

Click here for the complete Bichon Frise breed standard.

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