Maltese Pigeon: Breed Guide

Every now and then you come across a bird that looks so strikingly different from how you imagined that it genuinely makes you do a double-take.

In the world of pigeons, the Maltese pigeon in particular is a breed that has that exact kind of impact! Intrigued?

Get ready to be introduced to the Maltese pigeon, the bird that the internet has proclaimed the supermodel of pigeons! Indeed, The Verge claimed the Maltese Pigeon to be the sexiest pigeon of all time.

Origins of the Maltese Pigeon

You might think the clue to its origins is in its name, but the Maltese pigeon has no connection to the Mediterranean island of Malta!

The consensus is that the current form of the Maltese pigeon was derived from a crossing of a French Bagdad pigeon and a German variety.

Rather than Malta, the breed’s beginnings are in Austria in the 1800s, becoming known in Germany in 1850.

Maltese Pigeon Appearance

If you have ever seen a Maltese pigeon for yourself then you will know just how unique they are in the pigeon world.

The general form of the breed much more closely resembles that of a chicken, standing high on uniquely strong and straight legs.

In fact, there have been numerous videos of Maltese pigeons on TikTok where people have claimed that they have created a pigeon chicken hybrid, so don’t be fooled, it’s just a Maltese pigeon.

They have a short and compact body that appears very tucked up so as to give a cube shape rather the rounded shape of so many other pigeon breeds.

Its neck is very long and slender very much like that of a goose and the head is the same width as the neck. All colors other than white have orange eyes while white Maltese have bull-colored eyes.

The breed has very discrete eyelids.

They are tall birds for their species, standing more than 25 inches in height.

The Maltese pigeon presents in a number of different colors, some of the most popular are:

  • White
  • Black
  • Red
  • Brown
  • Blue hammered black
  • Blue with black rods
  • Brown with rods
  • Hammered brown
  • Red rods

Character of a Maltese Pigeon

Further enhancing their likeness to a chicken, the Maltese pigeon is not a great flyer.

Some believe this is a natural result of the peculiar, less than aerodynamic shape that the breed has developed into over the years.

The wings have very short flight feathers – in keeping with the plumage which is overall short.

Tame and amenable, the Maltese is definitely the gentle giant of the pigeon world.

Diet of the Maltese Pigeon

The Maltese pigeon very much follows the traditional seed and grain-based diet of the wider group of doves and pigeons.

In the wild, they will feed on things like seeds, berries, green leaves, fruits, shoots and sometimes even small insects like spiders.

When owned as pets, Maltese pigeons will receive all the nutrients they need from the commercial seeds mixes and supplements that are widely available.

If the owner wants to bestow any treats, these pigeons are rather fond of apples, pears, berries, lettuce, chickweed and clover.

How to Take Care of a Maltese Pigeon

The Maltese pigeon’s lack of flying talent and/or capability means that you don’t have to worry too much about maximum room for flight but due to their size, they should still be given adequate space.  

When it comes to caring for a Maltese pigeon in a loft, it is very much about following the tried and tested basics and making sure that you don’t fall behind in the maintenance and cleaning of the bird’s space.

Other Interesting Facts about Maltese Pigeons

As tends to happen with any creature of the animal kingdom that boasts a strange or out-of-the-ordinary aesthetic, the Maltese pigeon is one of my birds who has experienced its five minutes of fame on social media!

In March of 2021 a TikTok user uploaded a video showcasing the bird’s distinctive long legs, hailing them to be the supermodels of the pigeon world.


brown bar Maltese pigeon. please like and comments. thanks

♬ original sound – fancy

The wider TikTok community obviously thought so too, as in no time at all the video had gained more than 2.7 million views and spawned numerous memes:

maltese pigeons meme (1)

In a different world, as the internet would lead us, the Maltese pigeon could have ended up with a name that might have been a concatenation of the words chicken and pigeon – chigeon or picken? Eek!

Denise Bereford

Denise Bereford is a full-time writer and researcher with a long-standing passion for pigeons.

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