A toy dog covered from head to toe with a mantle of long, silky white hair, the Maltese is gentle-mannered and affectionate, known for being lively, playful and fearless despite its small size. Maltese are intelligent little dogs that are very fast learners if they feel sufficiently rewarded. Today, their refinement, cleanliness and portability make them a popular choice as a companion dog.
Even though the Maltese is a very small dog, they tend to be brave and without fear. They are one of the gentlest mannered of all little dogs, but are also full of energy and very playful, making them great family dogs. Maltese should be brushed daily and groomed often to prevent mats from forming in their long, white coat.
The Maltese does require routine brushing and grooming. The coat is a single layer with no undercoat giving it the luxurious silk texture known to Maltese. A correct coat hangs long, flat, and silky over the sides of the body all the way to the ground. Maltese should be bathed and brushed out weekly in order to keep the skin and coat in prime condition. If you Maltese has a wooly or curly coat, though incorrect, choosing the right products and using them correctly can help give the illusion of the silky texture that Maltese are known for.
It takes a lot of determination and conviction to bathe a Maltese while minimizing further tangling. After the coat is wet, apply the shampoo by squeezing it through the coat in a downward motion. In order to get the coat squeaky clean, continue to move the shampoo down the coat. Thoroughly shampooing the coat will contribute to building a strong, healthy, and manageable coat. The same technique is used when conditioning the coat. It is of utmost importance to condition the coat on a Maltese every time you bathe. Conditioning the coat will hydrate and nourish each individual strand of hair while sealing the ends to prevent brakeage and split ends. Make sure you cool the water temperature down when doing the final rinse to assure that the coat is completely free of any product. Once the bath is finished, blot the coat with a towel and squeeze excessive water from the ears, legs, and any longer furnishings. Always use a downward motion to remove the excess rather than a circular motion in order to keep the coat from further tangling.
If your Maltese has a long coat, it is best to line dry the dog using a fluff dryer. Systematically line dry the entire coat right down to the skin. Make sure they are completely dry in the area you are working before you move on to the next section. Once the Maltese is completely dry, make sure the coat is tangle free. Double check your brush out by using a metal comb. It should glide freely through the coat all the way down to the skin.
Finishing the Dog: Tools and Finish Grooming
The coat should be free of mats and tangles. The coat on this self- confident little dog should be light and airy, while hanging straight and moving freely with the dog. Lightly neaten the entire outline of the dog, removing any stray hairs that interrupt the natural flow of the dog. Make sure not to over trim. Finish with a light mist of hydrating spray. The hair on the head is tied up into 2 topknots. Hair spray is used to hold the topknots in place.
If you are unable to keep up with the long, silk coat with weekly bathing and brushing, by all means choose to have your Maltese groomed into a shorter trim. A puppy or modern trim still needs routine maintenance with bath and brush outs every 2 to 3 weeks.
General Health Care
Prep work is the foundation of all grooming. Prep work includes ear cleaning, nail trimming, trimming the pads, anal glands, and proper dental hygiene. Master these skills sets the professional pet stylist apart from the rest. Prep work should be done before every bathing and grooming appointment. All dogs need to have their ears checked and cleaned on a regular basis. Some need to have the hair plucked from the ear canal. This allows the ear to have proper air circulation. It is not necessary to remove all of the hair in the ear, as some serves as a barrier to foreign debris. It is imperative that you are properly trained to pull ear hair before attempting this endeavor. Proper nail care is also very important. Long, unsightly nails are uncomfortable for the dog, as well as anyone they might jump on. Long nails also compromise the shape of the foot. Trimming the pads of the foot helps give the dog good traction on different surfaces and can minimize the amount of dirt the dog tracks into the house. It also affords the opportunity to treat and condition the paws from cracks and abrasions. Anal glands should also be checked and expressed if they are full. Some caring pet owners prefer to have the anal glands done by their veterinarian. Good dental hygiene is essential for a healthy pet as well.
In order to maintain healthy skin and coat as well as overall health, it is important to provide good nutrition to your dog through a well-balanced diet, vitamins, and healthy treats.
Do they require a lot of grooming?
As a young dog, it is important that you get them used to regular grooming. Maltese do require routine maintenance. A full brush out 2 to 3 times a week is best with baths every 1 to 2 weeks. Never brush dry coat, always lightly mist with a hydrating spray before you brush. If your Maltese is kept in a shorter trim, weekly brush outs are still preferred. Routine baths ranging between 1 and 3 weeks is desirable. This is a breed that requires their caring owner to stay on top of routine maintenance.
What is a common problem in Maltese?
One of the most common problems with Maltese is hypoglycemia. It is more common in puppies and smaller Maltese. An adult Maltese may develop hypoglycemia, although it is much rarer. Hypoglycemia is a fast drop in blood sugar levels. Just about every element of a puppy’s body depends on the proper balance of sugar in the bloodstream. When Hypoglycemia develops, there is only a small window of time to treat the puppy. Several factors can bring this on such as stress, lack of nutrients, and puppies who are born much smaller than average. Some symptoms include drowsiness, shaking, fainting, confused behavior, seizures, weakness, depression, muscle weakness and tremors, and a drop in body temperature. If any of these symptoms appear, your Maltese could be in imminent danger within minutes. All small puppies should be watched very closely. If symptoms appear, immediate medical attention is required. It is a good idea to talk with your veterinarian about ways to prevent hypoglycemia when you take your puppy for a wellness check-up after purchasing your puppy.
Does the Maltese shed or cause allergies?
Maltese do not shed. Frequent baths and brush outs also help control dander. Because of this, the Maltese tends to cause less severe reactions in people who suffer from allergies to dogs. However, before bringing a Maltese into your home if you have allergies, you should spend some time around the breed to make sure you do not have a reaction.
Are Maltese good with children?
A Maltese is typically not the best dog for people who have small children. They tend to become stressed with the activity level of small children. Maltese thrive in an environment where the children are more mature or live primarily with adults.
What if I have a show dog?
Whether you have a show dog or a companion quality dog, the same basic care is given regarding nutrition, socialization, and hygiene. A major difference is the method of grooming that is required and the conditioning for the show ring. A Maltese’s coat is typically wrapped or banded when in show coat to protect the coat in between show days. It is quite helpful if your breeder can help mentor you to lead you in the right direction upon entering the show ring. A great place to start is with the national breed club like the American Maltese Club, www.americanmaltese.org.