The Maltese and bichon frise are both small white dogs that look alike when they are puppies. However, any breeder of those two distinct breeds will tell you that's where the likeness ends.
Hair of the dog
The primary difference between bichon frise and Maltese dogs is their fur. The bichon has dense, curly fur with a very thick undercoat cropped close to the body. The Maltese's very long, straight hair has no undercoat.
Both the bichon and the Maltese are great companion dogs because of their sweet dispositions, playfulness and loyalty. The Maltese is considered to be fiercely protective and courageous. The bichon is perfectly content as a lapdog.
Both the Maltese and bichon are primarily white. Some bichons may have an off-white, light yellow, buttery or soft apricot shading. Maltese dogs should be pure white with little shading aside from a little off-white around the ears.
Bichons do not shed, which is good news for allergy sufferers. However, due to the dense coat, the bichon is prone to thick matting if not regularly brushed. The Maltese needs daily brushing to avoid tangles and matting. Maltese dogs shed and require trimming (or ponytails) to keep hair out of their eyes.
Both bichons and Maltese dogs will remain small, weighing no more than 2.7 or 3.2 kg (6 or 7 pounds).