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Shampoo, Conditioners

Best Shampoos and Coat Products for Maltese Dogs


Careful thought should go into the products that you use on your Maltese's coat. This will include shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in coat spray. 

These will have a huge effect on how your Maltese looks. This includes the intensity of the white, the presence or absence of discolored hairs, the volume of the coat (limp Vs full), the texture of the coat (silky Vs dry), and hair health (brittle hair, split ends, etc.)

The shampoos and other products also have a direct effect on a dog's skin. Inferior shampoos can cause dry skin problems often manifesting as itching and/or rashes. If these worsen, it can lead to cracked skin, hot spots, and even thinning hair. 

This section will cover:
  • The 3 main coat products, and what each one is meant to do
  • The best shampoos, the benefits they have, and recommended products

The 3 Coat Products

The 3 products that you will want to have for your Maltese, and use on a regular basis are:

Shampoo - to cleanse the body of accumulated body oils and debris, and prepare the hair strands to receive the conditioner.

Conditioner - to moisturize, restore, and protect the coat.

Leave-in conditioner coat spray - to keep the coat healthy and protect it from an array of elements in between baths including sun exposure and contact friction. 

Choosing the Best Shampoo for a Maltese

The qualities that you will want the shampoo to have are:

1. Correct pH balance.

Due to the Maltese's single coat of silky hair, it is important to use a gentle shampoo. At the same time, it must be effective in cleansing away body oils. 

Oils are the body's natural defense to keep skin moisturized; however, if these are not properly washed away, they begin to accumulate. Small hairs and other debris become trapped in the oils; this can block air flow and cause quite terrible odors. 

Inferior shampoos can be very harsh on both skin and coat, stripping them quite severely, so while they may remove oils, they will do so far too roughly and in a way that is detrimental to both skin and coat. 

When skin is cleansed too roughly it becomes irritated and raw. When hair is exposed to harsh ingredients, the outer layer of the cuticle will be damaged. Once that occurs, hair is completely vulnerable to contact, weather, humidity, static, and more.  
The shampoo should have a pH balance of between 5.5 and 6.5. It should also contain soothing and restorative elements such as lavender and aloe. Oatmeal is very good as well, and should be used for extra dry skin (more ahead). 

2. No soaping agents. 

When you think of dog shampoo, you may think of soap and it may seem as if these two words are interchangeable. 

However, true soaping agents can be terribly harsh on a dog's skin and coat. It is often akin to tiny micro-abrasions that irritate and over-cleanse. 

Look for a soap-free shampoo that uses natural ingredients like coconut-based cleansers. 

3. Natural white enhancing ingredients

Be careful here. You do not want a shampoo that bleaches the coat. Rather, the best shampoos for solid white dogs like the Maltese are those that contain natural minerals that works as optical brighteners.
Max, photo courtesy of Meri
Another natural ingredient that works very well to remove yellowish stains are coconut oils. 

While many of these work well with any light coat (cream, light tan, etc.), they work magnificently on white coats, and with regular use (and proper upkeep in between baths) can keep a Maltese looking pure snow white. 
Recommendations for the top 4 best whitening shampoos are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. For mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 

Coat Conditioners

Shampoo and conditioner go hand-in-hand. Even if you use a great shampoo, if you do not follow with an equally great conditioner, you will never see optimal results.

The shampoo is just the first step in the bathing process. The right shampoo will gently cleanse away accumulated body oils and debris, without causing irritation. It will leave hairs super clean, and the cuticles softened, which makes them readied for the conditioner.  

The conditioner will wrap each hair with penetrating ingredients that hydrate and protect. With the right one, even after you rinse it all away, it will leave behind a layer of protection that increases hair health. 

Leave-in Conditioner Coat Sprays

The last product that you will want is a great leave-in coat spray. 

These have a plethora of benefits. 

A quality spritz will:
  • Protect the coat and skin from sun exposure year-round and especially in the summer
  • Provide a layer of protection from cold, arid air in the winter
  • Prevent issues such as frizz and split ends that can happen due to contact friction
  • Keep tangles at bay
  • Add a nice texture that makes hairs look shiny and clean
  • And as an added bonus, some smell fantastic with a light, fresh fragrance
Milo, photo courtesy of Urvi Sedani
For repairing: If your Maltese has a damaged coat (split ends, very dry hair) or is dealing with skin issues (hot spots, irritations) a leave-in can work to repair the hairs by enveloping strands 24/7 and soothe the skin with healing ingredients. A combination of aloe and oatmeal is very effective for this.
Spritzing tips: You'll want to use a light mist of this product each time that you brush the coat. This will be every 3 days for close puppy cuts, every 2 days for medium coats, and every day for long coats.

Hold the bottle 4 to 5 inches from the coat, and spritz 1/2 to 1 inch from the roots. Work in sections, spritzing and brushing as you go. 
Recommendations for a bathing conditioner, leave-in conditioners, and a repair leave-in are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. For mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 

Specialized Shampoos

You may also need to use specialized shampoos if your Maltese is suffering from certain conditions. While you will want to bring any issues to the attention of the veterinarian to be sure of what is happening, the most widely used specialized shampoos include:
  • Antiseborrheic Medicated Shampoo - This is to treat dandruff. also known as seborrheic dermatitis. There are two forms of dandruff; this can be dry (white flakes seen on the skin) or oily (both flakes and a greasy film on skin and hairs). Common helpful ingredients will be coal tar, salicylic acid and micronized sulfur.
  • Anti-itch shampoos - This is generally used for dogs suffering from allergies. While it will be important to have the allergies diagnosed in order to be able to avoid or eliminate the trigger(s), and prescribed medications may be needed, a part of the treatment will be to use an effective anti-itch shampoo that soothes the coat. 
Colloidal oatmeal is very effective, and for serious skin allergy issues, look for a shampoo that also has 1% Lidocaine These help ease itching and offer relief via a cooling sensation.

In addition to this, for serious hot spots, you may also want to use a hot spot spray to target particularly sensitive and irritated areas. 
  • Anti-fungal, anti-bacterial shampoo - Dogs can develop fungal (yeast) issues on the skin. Common signs are itchiness, redness, dark spots on the skin, and the most telling sign, a strong musty smell. Bacterial infections may develop if skin becomes so dry that cracks develop.
For this, a shampoo with both chlorhexadine, which is an antiseptic, and miconazole, which treats fungal and skin yeast infections, can work well. 
Recommendations for medicated shampoos are below. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. For mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontal to see all 4 items. 
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An overview and timeline of necessary grooming tasks

Tips and advice for pleasant and effective bathing

Why these develop and how to resolve staining
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