There is only one type of Maltese dog, and any variations in the Maltese are related to the size rather than the breed. However, Maltese dogs are a member of the Bichon family, according to the Bichon World website. There are a number of different kinds of dogs within the Bichon breed, and each of these dogs has different characteristics.
Maltese and Frise
The Maltese breed has long, flowing white hair that can be kept short for easy maintenance but otherwise will need to be brushed every day. These dogs are 8 to 10 inches tall and weigh between 6 and 9 pounds, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. They suffer from occasional digestive problems. The Maltese has a life expectancy of 15 years.
Bichon Frises are long-haired dogs with solid white coats. They usually weigh between 12 and 18 pounds as adults, and they range between 9 and 12 inches tall. These dogs need to be brushed daily and taken to a groomer at least once every several months. according to the Just Dog Breeds web page. They suffer from dislocated kneecaps, epilepsy and bladder stones. Bichon Frises have a life span of around 14 years.
Havanese and Bolognese
The Havanese has a thick undercoat and a fluffy, curly outer coat that can be cream, blue, black or white, as well as many other colors. The Havanese weighs around 7 to 13 pounds and is around 7 to 12 inches tall, notes the Just Dog Breeds web page. These dogs have a 12- to 15-year life span, but they can suffer from dislocated kneecaps and thyroid issues.
The Bichon Bolognese has a long, slightly curly, solid white coat of fur, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. The males are slightly larger than the females and can grow to between 10 and 12 inches tall, while the females usually average between 10 and 11 inches. They usually weigh between 4 1/2 and 9 pounds. These dogs need to be brushed every day and taken to the groomer at least once a month. They shed very little hair, have no serious genetic health issues and live for around 14 years.
Coton de Tulear and Lowchen
Coton de Tulear dogs are sociable, friendly and devoted to their families. Their full size at adulthood is between 10 and 12 inches tall and 12 to 15 pounds. Cotons have fluffy, cotton-like coats that can be black, white and tricolored. They need to be brushed every day, but they shed very little and only need to be bathed a few times each year, according to the Dog Breed Info Center. These dogs have few genetic health issues and have a life expectancy of 14 to 16 years.
Lowchens weigh between 12 and 18 pounds and grow to between 12 and 14 inches tall at full size, according to the Just Dog Breeds web page. They are a long-haired breed that shed very little, but their coats need to be brushed at least every other day. Lowchens come in a variety of colors including black, tan, white and gold. They have a 13- to 16-year life span. Although they are a generally healthy breed, Lowchens can suffer from allergies, cataracts and knee problems.