The Maltese is an intelligent toy dog with a gentle, loving temperament and a regal presence. Along with large, dark eyes and a sweet facial expression, the Maltese is known for its long, flowing white coat, which requires much at-home grooming to keep it clean and tangle-free. The Maltese also needs regular visits to a professional groomer for more intricate grooming, including removal of hair in the ears, trimming around the toes, and clipping of the toenails as necessary.
Use a pin brush or wire-toothed comb to brush your Maltese daily to keep her coat smooth and free of tangles. Brush the majority of her coat in long, gentle strokes. Use a comb to pick through shorter fur around her ears and hindquarters. Do not pull or tug at her hair while grooming, as this will cause discomfort, and your dog will learn to dislike the grooming procedure.
Wipe the area around your Maltese's eyes daily with a soft cloth and warm water to prevent staining. A reddish-brown discharge is common in this breed and is especially noticeable on her white coat. Daily attention to cleaning the area around the eyes will help to keep your Maltese's face looking clean and white.
Remove any tangles or matted fur from your Maltese's coat. Spritz water or a spray detangler formulated for dogs on the mat and gently work a comb through the tangled hair until the mat is freed.
Pay close attention to the hair around your dog's ears. This delicate fur is especially prone to tangles. When possible, gently pick small tangles out with a comb, using warm water or detangler. Carefully trim tangles that you aren't able to brush out.
Keep the fur trimmed around your Maltese's hindquarters to prevent feces from soiling her coat. Comb the fur straight, then trim it to about 1 inch long. If the fur around your pet's hindquarters is soiled, bathe her before trimming.
Bathe your Maltese no more often than every two or three months unless she gets excessively dirty during play. Bathing removes important oils from a dog's coat, and bathing too often can cause skin problems. Use a shampoo formulated especially for white dogs. This will keep her coat shiny and as white as possible. Apply a conditioner after you rinse the shampoo from her coat. This will help to remove any tangles that form during bathing and keep her coat silky soft.
Dry your Maltese thoroughly after bathing, with a soft towel or a blow dryer set to a comfortable heat. Keep the dryer moving to avoid any chance of scalding your dog's sensitive skin. A Maltese's coat will not look smooth and straight and may develop tangles if it is allowed to dry naturally.
Gather the hair around your Maltese's eyes into a topknot, using a rubber band, clip or bow to hold it. Not only will she feel better with her hair out of her eyes, but she will look adorable.
Check your pet's ears for wax and debris buildup. Use a cotton swab and an ear cleanser recommended by your veterinarian to clean the visible surfaces of the ears. Never stick the cotton swab or anything else into her ear canals. You could damage an eardrum. If you believe your dog has ear problems such as ear mites or inflamed or infected ears, take her to your veterinarian and use the products he recommends.
Take your Maltese to a professional groomer to have the hairs plucked from inside the ears. Excessive hair in the ears can promote ear infections.
Have your groomer tidy up your Maltese's feet regularly by trimming the fur and the nails. Keeping the fur between your dog's toes trimmed will keep her feet looking neat and clean. Depending on her activity level, your dog's nails should be trimmed about once a month. Your groomer can perform both tasks at the same time.