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Grooming (Main Page)

Maltese Grooming

Overview of All Grooming Tasks, Details of Brushing the Coat

maltese-dog-long-clean-coat

Overview

When you have a Maltese, you'll find that there are a lot of grooming tasks to take care of; however, knowing what to do, having the right tools and supplies on hand, and keeping a schedule will help make grooming relatively easy.

In addition, grooming your Maltese puppy or dog can be a wonderful bonding experience.

In this section we will cover the grooming basics of:
  • A list of tasks done daily, weekly, and monthly
  • Giving baths
  • Choosing the best shampoo and coat products
  • Keeping the face clean
  • Brushing and tangles

Typical Maltese Grooming Tasks

Before diving into more detail, let's take a look at what will need to be done on a regular basis:

Brushing - How often you brush the coat will depend on its length. This will vary from every day to every 3 days. 

Combing - For all Maltese, a comb is used on the face, and for those with medium to long coats, this is done in conjunction with brushing. 

Spritzing - This is done alongside the brushing.

Baths - Though there can be circumstances that call for more frequent baths, most Maltese should be bathed once every 3 weeks.
Facial wipes, eye wipes - The face should be wiped 2 to 3 times per day. 
Coat wipe touch-ups - This is done on an as-needed basis to keep the coat clean in between baths.

Nails - A trim (or filing) is typically needed every 5 to 6 weeks. 

Ear cleaning - Generally every 4 weeks. 

Teeth cleaning - Ideally, teeth are scrubbed once daily.
Summary of timeline: 

Daily - Facial wipe, eye wipe, teeth cleaning, brushing, combing & spritzing if a long coat
Every other day - Brushing, combing & spritzing for medium length coat
Every 3 days - Brushing, combing & spritzing for short puppy cuts
Every 3 weeks - Bath
Every 4 weeks - Ears are cleaned
Every 5 to 6 weeks - Nails are trimmed or filed

Facial Wiping, Eye Wiping

Since Maltese are entirely white dogs (save for those with slight lemon or tan on the ears) and the hairs of the coat are soft and silky, this means that staining can occur very easily. There needs to focused upkeep on the face, or else discoloration can quickly become a problem. 

Most common are issues with hairs around the mouth and chin taking on a yellowed tint. And facial hairs under and/or around the eyes taking on a pink, brown, or rust discoloration, known as tear stains. 

What to do: 

For maintenance, obtain quality canine wipes. These should be a good brand that is gentle yet effective, and these will be for the entire face including around the eyes. A good choice is Earthbath All Natural Specialty Eye Wipes

It is recommended to wipe over a Maltese's face after each meal, so this will be 2 to 3 times per day. 

Of course, if your Maltese is home alone during the day while you are away, you will not be there to do this grooming task. If so, wipe the face and eye area soon after you arrive back home. 
maltese-sitting-on-chair-with-topknot
Albi, at 2 years old, photo courtesy of Margaret
For stained problem areas, you will need to take things up a notch by using products to remove tear stains. In some cases, these develop due to a lack of upkeep; however, in other cases there are additional causes including excessive tearing, eating and/or drinking from plastic bowls, or even a yeast infection. 
If there are indeed rust colored, heavy stains, you may want to use a remove product in conjunction with the daily wipes. Eye Envy Tear Stain Remover Solution is an effective choice that works very well for many Maltese. 

Body Grooming Wipes - Keeping the Coat Clean

Since you don't want to give baths too often (every 3 weeks is recommended) but solid white dogs pick up a lot of debris in between, you'll need to take steps to keep your puppy or dog's entire body clean. 

This can be accomplished with regular brushing (more ahead) and routine full-body wipes. Grooming wipes are great for several reasons:
  • Removes grass, pollen and other outside elements for puppies and dogs that have allergies
  • Keeps skin and coat moisturized
  • Removes fine particle debris that can get in the way of the coat looking as white as possible
  • Swipes away urine and feces, which very easily shows up on this sort of coat
Typically, once you have your choice of quality body wipes, each day do a wipe over the head, chest and forelegs, then another over the back and the flanks, hind legs, and tail. Then, a 3rd on the underbelly and genital area. 

Teeth Cleaning

Keeping your Maltese's teeth clean will be your job, since chewing on toys is terribly insufficient. At-home dental care will consist of daily 3 to 5 minute brushings with an effective canine toothpaste and small brush or finger-brush, a daily dental chew, and optionally a canine plaque-fighting water supplement. 
Below are our recommended grooming products for the tasks covered so far of facial wiping, body wiping, and dental care. If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontally to see all 4 items.

Brushing, Combing, and Spritzing

Brushing, combing, and spritzing all work together to keep the coat looking wonderful. 

How often to brush a Maltese: Puppy cuts need brushing every 3 days, moderate hair styles need brushing every 2 days, and long show coats need daily brushing. 

Brushing - Brushing will serve several purposes. It will clean the coat of debris, stimulate blood flow, help disperse naturally occurring body oils, work to add life, bounce, & shine, separate hairs to help prevent tangles, and be the tool to distribute the spritz through the hairs.

Combing - For moderate to long coats, tangles (mats in the hair) is a concern. These are tiny twisted knots of hair; if these are left in the coat, they will keep pulling more hairs in and therefore keep growing. 

Combing helps separate hairs and check for tangles before any brushing is done. For longer coats, one good method is comb, brush, comb. 

For all Maltese, a face comb can help you take care of facial hairs that would otherwise be difficult to brush. 
maltese-posing
Roxie, at 1 year old, photo courtesy of Dale 
Spritzing - This refers to a quality leave-in conditioner spray. 

Using this sort of product helps protect the lovely single layer coat of this breed. It will:
  • Offer protection from sun exposure
  • Offer protection from dry arid air in the winter
  • Help prevent damage from contact friction
  • Work to keep hairs healthy and free of split ends
  • Offer a silkiness that helps keep mats at bay
  • As a nice bonus, some spritzes will have a nice fragrance that can keep your Maltese smelling nice and fresh
When you spritz the coat, hold the bottle approximately 4 to 5 inches away, spritz lightly approximately 1/2 inch from the roots, then brush down to the tips. 

You do not want to spray on a lot; all you need is a light misting. 
To summarize how to brush and comb a Maltese:
Brush (or comb, brush, comb for longer coats) every 1, 2, or 3 days (depending on coat length), while using a quality leave-in spritz. Work in sections and being sure to get all areas of the body. A facial comb is to go over all hairs around the face and head. 

Grooming tools needed: 

The best type of brush is a quality pin brush. Young puppies and smaller adult Maltese do well with a 16 mm brush, and adults in the 6 to 7 lb. range can do well with a 20 mm brush. 

The best type of comb for the body is a two-level steel comb. For the face, a steel facial comb in size small is best.

You will want to have a de-matting comb, just in case. If you find a tangle, the best thing to do is first try your best to work it out by hand with both of your hands covered with your chosen leave-in conditioner. If it is knotted to tightly, use a small de-matting comb to help you work it out. 
Below are our recommended brushes (showing is the 20 mm for adults, choose the 16 mm for an adult), two-level comb, properly sized de-matting tool, and a fantastic leave-in spritz that works especially well for white dogs (due to needing a sunscreen year-round). 

If you do not see the images, try a refresh. And on mobile, you may need to turn your screen horizontally to see all 4 items.

Nails

How often you will need to trim or file a Maltese's nails will vary; there is somewhat of a natural filing that occurs when a dog walks upon hard surfaces; however, this will never completely take care of the task. 

If nails are not checked and are allowed to grow too long, they can start to turn inward back into the skin. In addition, breakage is more likely to occur if they are not kept at a proper length.

Typically nails need to be trimmed every 6 weeks or so. If you can hear the click-clack of the nails on a hard floor surface, this is a cue. 

Some owners prefer to have the groomer or vet perform this task. The price of this can range from $10 to $15. 

You may also wish to do this at home. If so, choices are a nail clipper or a filer. 

Electronic nail filers can be a good option, as this is an easy, fast method and often less stressful for dogs. A great choice is the Dremel 7300-PT Pet Nail Filer.This has 2 rotation speeds and is cordless. Since Maltese are very small, you may want to obtain their 100-120 grit banding sand, which is a good size sander for this breed. 
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How to remove the triggers and permanently keep the area pure white
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Spotlight Article
Covering all issues that can be seen, ranging from very dry skin to odd rashes and infections. 
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