A single-coated, barely shedding breed, the Maltese still presents grooming challenges. Neglecting the grooming of your bright, button-eyed Maltese leads to a dirty, matted mess of a coat.
Brushing regularity depends on your Maltese's coat length, and cutting your Maltese's hair short will not save you from your regular date with the brush. Long-haired pups need daily brushing, while dogs with sporty short cuts can get away with every other day. Maltese hair mats ridiculously easily, and once a mat appears you'll need to spend even more time slowly working it out. Particularly resistant mats need cut out, which leaves an unsightly chunk in your pooch's otherwise nice coat.
Get through to the skin and straighten any tangles with a pin brush and metal comb. Spritz the coat with a light spraying of detangler or conditioner to dampen it slightly, as dry brushing creates static and broken ends. Concentrate on small sections at a time and work slowly so you don't yank on his hair if you encounter a tangle.
Dirt seems drawn to anything white, and your little white Maltese is a regular dirt magnet. His coat requires regular baths to keep bright and clean. Bath frequency is mostly a personal choice, but you most likely need to scrub your pooch down every week or two to keep him from looking too dingy. Brush him through before bathing, as a wet tangle turns quickly into a stubborn, impossible-to-remove mat.
Wet your pup thoroughly to the skin before applying gentle dog shampoo -- work with a whitening shampoo for best results. Work into a lather and pay particular attention to areas beneath the tail, the legs and his paws. Rinse him thoroughly to remove all shampoo residue, as dried shampoo irritates his skin and dull his coat. Apply a conditioner if you like and rinse thoroughly.
Once he's rinsed out well, towel dry him as much as possible and run a blow dryer on a low-heat setting to dry him completely. Dry him in sections, brushing as you go.
Working Out Mats
Mats are sneaky little devils and can appear no matter how strict your brushing routine is. Working them out of your Maltese’s coat requires patience, and the tighter and larger the mat, the longer the de-matting may take. Take breaks if you need to keep your dog from getting too antsy.
Pull the mat apart with your fingers to separate it into smaller, more workable sections. Spray it with some detangler or conditioner and gently massage the product into the tangled hair to make it easier to work with. Separate the hairs with a metal comb to gradually comb them straight. Your pup may lose some hair as you work through the mat, but considering the alternative is to chop the whole mat out, it's worth the sacrifice.
You may notice unsightly brown stains beneath his eyes and around his mouth. That beautiful white hair is susceptible to staining from your dog's own tears and the minerals in your water. Wipe his eyes daily with a cotton ball and warm water, and offer him purified water to see if the stains clear up. Swap his plastic food bowl for a steel, glass or ceramic one and wash it after he eats to prevent bacteria and food oils from staining his beard.
To remove stains sullying his pretty face, wash the tear tracks and area around his mouth with a moist washcloth and gentle soap. Take care to keep soap away from his eyes and nose so you don't irritate them. Pet stores sell products specially designed to remove tear stains; follow instructions to the letter to avoid harming your pooch.