Maintaining Your Maltese Dog's Glorious Hair
Anyone who knows anything about Maltese dogs knows that their hair is their crowing glory. As you may suspect, owning a Maltese with long, luxurious hair is going to take some maintenance. Read on to learn the proper ways of primping your precious Maltese.
A Maltese dog has a single coat of light, typically white hair, which means it has no undergrowth like some other breeds do. In fact, Maltese hair is hypoallergenic, which is a definite boon to those who suffer from allergies or asthma. On top of that, the Maltese are clean dogs with very little odor, unlike other breeds such as hound dogs. Despite their long hair, there is very little shedding as long as you brush their hair on a regular basis. Typically, their hair reaches about 12 inches in length and actually drag on the floor. The Maltese puppies that you see in competitions will often have hair this length, but it requires a lot of maintenance, as their hair is prone to mats and tangles. However, many owners choose to keep their dog's hair trimmed much shorter than that, typically about the length that it was when he was a puppy. Overall, Maltese hair is less cumbersome and less of a chore to take care of than many people think.
Maltese hair requires regular washing and conditioning to maintain its soft sheen. Ideally, you should give your Maltese puppy his first bath by the time he's 12 weeks old, although you can begin to groom him several weeks earlier. Try to make a habit of lightly combing your puppy's hair with your fingers so he becomes used to your touch and the sensation it produces. Always remember that, before bathing a dog, you should set the water to a lukewarm temperature. You don't want it so warm that it could scald the puppy, or so cold that it will leave him shivering. Place your hand under the tap so you know you have the desired temperature, and then place your puppy in the bathtub. Speak soothingly to the puppy and be as gentle as possible while beginning his first bath, as it may be a frightening experience for him. Work up a good lather and start cleaning your puppy from his head to his feet, making sure not to miss his belly, tail and crevices that can be easily overlooked but collect dirt. Then, towel-dry your puppy and spray on a leave-in conditioner to soften his coat. You can even blow-dry your puppy's hair if he will stand for it, just make sure to keep the dryer's setting on medium. Finally, it will take a while for your puppy's long hair to dry, so keep him near a space heater or move him to a an otherwise warm environment during the cold winter months.
If you want to maintain your puppy's long hair, it will require daily brushing. The key to brushing a Maltese is using plenty of leave-in conditioner. This conditioner will help soften your puppy's hair, which will allow the brush to flow smoothly through it. It will also assist in detangling mats, which are the bane of existence for long-haired dogs such as the Maltese. A pin brush is ideal because it really fluffs the hair and give it lots of body. You can begin around the neck, which is one of the hardest areas to brush on a Maltese, but a lot of knots and mats can congregate their. Use long, smooth stroke, making sure to brush the entire coat of your Maltese. Don't forget to keep spraying as you go, and you can even use some coat oil to make your dog's hair truly gleam. Try not to twist your wrists when you're brushing because you can break off the ends of the Maltese's hair, basically giving him “split ends.” You can brush the back of your puppy by starting with his feet and working up to his tail, and clipping the hair around the anus if need be because fecal matter can collect in that area, blocking your puppy's ability to eliminate. You'll also need to brush the hair on your puppy's belly , and you can do that by either combing underneath him while he is standing, or if he's comfortable, laying him on his back for better access. Make sure to comb their legs on both side, including their paws, as their hair frequently becomes matted between their toes. The Maltese's ears are also important, so don't forget to give them a good brushing. With a little bit of effort, your Maltese dog's hair can remain a thing of beauty for the duration of his or her life.