Maltese dogs are not only beautiful but are lovable and kind natured dogs. As a member of the toy breed, they are small in stature and don't get much bigger than 6 pounds. Most of their bulk comes in the form of thick white hair.
Their coats hang long, flat and silky over the sides of the body and skim the ground. Taking care of the Maltese coat is the most important part of grooming the breed. Maltese should be brushed and combed a minimum of every other day. Daily brushing, however, is recommended if you want to keep their coat healthy. The best brush to use is an open-spaced pin brush.
Avoid brushes with "balls" on the pins. Start by lifting up the top layer of hair, spray a light coat of water or a leave in conditioner and brush the bottom half of the coat free. Continue until that layer is tangle-free all the way to the skin and then work up to the top layer of hair.
Always make sure to brush the dog's underbelly to prevent matting. If your Maltese does develop mats, try to work it out gently at first with your fingers. Trying to brush it out first may result in hair loss. You can also try spraying the mat with de-tangler or a coat conditioning oil to loosen the hair. Gently pull apart the mat with your fingers and the end tooth of a comb as necessary. The most important thing to remember is to go slowly because if you try to remove the mat too hastily, you may end up needing to cut the mat out.
Another important part of taking care of the Maltese coat is regular bathing. Before beginning the bathing process, brush and comb your dog thoroughly to get rid of any dead hair and knots. If there are any mats present, they must be taken care of first because water will only tighten the knot. Once you've prepared your dog, clean the dog's ears and then place a small ball of cotton inside.
This will help prevent any water from entering the ear canal and causing an infection. Make sure to have all of your necessary equipment ready before beginning the bath and have plenty of towels within reach. Begin the bathing by getting your dog wet to the skin and then applying a quality, tear-free shampoo along the back, each leg and under the tail of your Maltese. Start lathering your dog and work from the back to front. Rinse the coat and then shampoo again.
After you've rinsed the second time, make sure to wash your Maltese's face carefully with a washcloth. Rise a third time over the dog's face and body to make sure all traces of soap are gone. Any leftover residue will irritate the dog's skin so this is a very important step.
Many Maltese owners like to use conditioner on their dog's coat. A special type of conditioner called a "coat handler" works as a leave in conditioner, detangler and fragrance all in one. Work the conditioner or coat handler through the dog's hair and then squeeze excess water from the coat. Pay close attention to the ears, tail and legs when removing water.
Then you can start drying with towels. Once your dog is at the damp-dry state you can begin to blow-dry. After blow-drying, you can comb out the dog's hair to make it smooth.
Wash your Maltese no more than once a week for a healthy coat.
Robin Darch, of PRT Specialised Services Limited has a website, My Pet Dog to help you find all the information you need about pet dogs, dog grooming and training.