The tiny Maltese has long, pure-white hair that hangs almost to the floor -- which isn't very far when a dog tops out at just 5 to 8 inches tall. This ancient companion pet of Mediterranean nobility lacks the soft undercoat that insulates the breeds of colder climates. Its silky single coat requires daily brushing to prevent mats. Many Maltese owners opt to shorten the fur of their tiny pets to save grooming time.
The Maltese daily grooming routine should include gentle brushing and combing of the fur to remove any tangles or mats. Brushing too hard can cause a brush rash or scratches on the dog’s skin. Spraying the coat with a conditioner helps the brush move easily through the long fur.
Brush your dog’s teeth at least once per week with a finger brush or a toothbrush designed for dogs. Use a veterinarian-approved dog toothpaste. Additionally, reddish-brown tear stains often form on the fur under a Maltese's eyes. Use a tear-stain remover to treat them.
Clean the fur around the dog’s anus daily to remove any feces clinging to the long hair. Matted feces can cause sores, infections and odor. Bathe your Maltese at least twice per month, and take the dog to a professional groomer for haircuts or trims every month.
The standard hairstyle for the Maltese is long fur that hangs down each side of the dog to just above the floor. The fur on the face, top of the head and ears is long. Many Maltese owners collect the fur on top of the head and fasten it with a bow or a barrette. The fur on the legs remains long, but groomers often scissor-cut any extra wisps of fur for a neater appearance.
The Maltese puppy cut or short cut is a short style that is low-maintenance and practical. The groomer cuts the hair over the dog's entire body. No particular length is specified for the puppy cut, because some Maltese owners prefer the hair as short as 1/2 inch, while others like it a little longer. Even with the puppy cut, many owners keep the fur on top of the dog’s head long so they can tie it up with a bow.
Trim the fur inside the ears to help prevent infections from accumulated moisture, bacteria and dirt. You can also use a fur whitener when you bathe your Maltese to keep the fur a bright white.