Grooming and Cuts for a Maltese

Grooming and Cuts for a Maltese

The Maltese has long gorgeous white hair that can reach floor length if taken care of properly. Don't let all that hair become a challenge -- learn how to groom your Maltese.

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.

Home Grooming

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 dogโ€™s skin. Spraying the coat with a conditioner helps the brush move easily through the long fur.

Brush your dogโ€™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 dogโ€™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.

Standard Hairstyle

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.

Puppy Cut

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 dogโ€™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.

Information on Maltese: Health

The Maltese is a small dog with a lively and playful demeanor who originates from the Mediterranean region. It was bred primarily as a companion and lap dog, although it may have been put to work in rodent control in its past. As with many small dogs, the Maltese can be subject to dental and eye problems as well as conditions of the knee. The dog may be prone to a serious condition called portosystemic shunt, which leads to toxification of the blood stream. The Malteseโ€™s life expectancy ranges from 12 to 14 years.

Primary Health Conditions of the Maltese

The Maltese is prone to dental problems, including tooth loss at an early age and gum disease. These dogs should receive regular dental care at the veterinarian as well as at home. The dogs teeth should be brushed regularly, it should never eat sweets, especially human food. The Maltese may also develop eye ulcers, which, when treated quickly with topical medication, are not generally serious. Eye irritations caused by the dogโ€™s long hair getting into the eye are also possible. More serious for this breed are portosystemic shunts, an inherited condition in which blood is not circulated through the liver. With this condition, blood is not cleansed of toxins, and this can lead to seizures and death. Surgery is an option, but often times the condition can be managed with diet and medication.

Secondary Health Conditions of the Maltese

Many dog breeds can be prone to patellar luxation, or movement of the kneecap, and the Maltese is no exception. This hereditary condition can cause pain or discomfort for the dog, for which surgery is an option and weight management a treatment. Dogs with the condition should not be bred. Hydrocephalus, literally โ€œwater on the brain,โ€ occurs when an excess of spinal fluid occurs in brain tissues. There are hereditary and acquired versions of the disease, both of which can present with sleepiness, blindness, seizures, and coma. Surgery is the most common treatment, but sometimes the condition can be managed with medication.

Maltese Exercise and Walking Needs

The lively, playful Maltese needs a daily walk of moderate length and plenty of playtime with its owner, either outside or in. These dogs are very attached to their owners and can become lethargic or over-excited when they do not receive enough attention from them. A healthy, active Maltese that is getting enough sunlight will display a black nose rather than a grayer or lighter colored nose. Even with the Malteseโ€™s long hair, its lack of an undercoat makes it susceptible to the cold.

Maltese Nutritional Needs

The Maltese is not a dog that is prone to weight problems, but its does have a tendency to develop diseases of the teeth and gums. For this reason, these dogs should not be given people food, especially anything sweet. Beyond that requirement, the Maltese should be given a moderate, twice daily feeding of a high quality dog food. Adjustments should be made to portions as the dog becomes older and less active.

References & Resources

American Kennel Club: Meet the Breeds: Maltese
The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine: Humane Education and Responsible Ownership
How to Groom a Maltese: Looking for Tips on How to Groom Your Maltese
Foxstone Maltese: Maltese Short Cut

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.

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