Maltese are eager little dogs who live for interaction with their owners and love to show off their amusing, affectionate personalities. They are tiny toy dogs who don't often weigh more than 7 pounds or stand taller than about 9 or 10 inches. The loyal, loving and perky Maltese makes an excellent companion for owners who don't mind spending a little extra quality time with their pet. They require lots of love and care to stay happy, healthy and well-groomed.
Maltese are incredibly gentle and fearless. They are animated and affectionate, even around strangers, who they view as nothing more than new friends. Maltese are very protective of their relationship with their favorite people, however. They love to know that they're the apple of their owner's eye, and they will want to spend most of their time curled up at their owner's feet or following them around the house. They are perky and active indoors, but they won't need much more exercise than a short walk or festive play session each day.
The Maltese has no problems with receiving special treatment. In fact, if you let them, these little dogs will allow themselves to become a little pampered. Be careful not to treat your Maltese like too much of a delicate flower, or they can become neurotic and entitled. With too much special treatment, they will begin to expect to be treated as tiny kings or queens, and they might become difficult to please. Their characteristically friendly and inviting dispositions make the Maltese popular companion dogs for owners who are looking for tiny, cute and sociable house dogs, but prospective Maltese owners must keep in mind that without proper socialization and plenty of time spent around their favorite people, these dogs can become anxious and resort to problem barking or other neurotic habits.
Maltese are known for their luxuriously silky, long white coat. It lies flat against the body and can grow long enough to touch the floor. Their coat is so long that it gives them the appearance of floating or gliding gracefully along the ground. Their long pendant ears and plumed tail are covered with long hair. Maltese have no under coat, so they do not shed. Their hair is distinguished by its human-like texture. It should not be curly, wavy or coarse in any way, which distinguishes it from the Bichon Frise's and the Havenese's coats. Not surprisingly, this little dog's beautiful appearance takes some effort to maintain. The Maltese's coat should always be silky and smooth to the touch. The long, thin hair mats and tangles quickly, and the pure white coat can become dirty easily.
Brushing your Maltese may seem like a never-ending task. Use a metal rake comb to remove mats after gently working them out with your fingers and using a detangling spray. If you choose to keep your Maltese in a sporty puppy clip, you will still need to brush him just about daily with a small slicker brush to prevent matting. The thin, silky hair will mat easily despite its length.
Make sure to bathe your Maltese frequently with a gentle detangling shampoo, because that long white coat is a catch-all for debris and discoloring dirt. Always concentrate on the area around the eyes, which gets dirty and stained easily.
Clipping or trimming your dog’s coat is far easier than you would ever imagine. With the right clipper, trimmer and scissors, giving your dog a haircut is easy on your wallet and your schedule.
Dogs with drop coats generally require regular hair clipping because they do not shed, so their long hair grows continuously. It lessens the chances of matting, tangles and the infestation of fleas and other pests, thus reducing the risk of skin infections. There is no set timetable. Judgment should be made on an individual basis, depending on functionality and owner preference. There are a wide array of clippers and trimmers available that will make each snip a snap. It's a good idea to take your dog for a short walk to calm him down before you groom him. Thoroughly brush the coat to remove tangles and mats. Use clippers to trim excess fur off the dog's body, choosing the appropriate clip attachment to achieve desired length. Start with the shoulders and progress towards the tail. Always leave at least a half-inch of fur to protect the dog from the elements. Use a trimmer or a scissors to even out areas around the tail, paws, sanitary areas and chest, as needed. Groom the head and face last, being watchful for sudden movement. Clip with the flow of the fur, away from the eyes and nose.
Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.
Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience. As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.
You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.
Maltese are prone to tear stains, but with some extra care, you can help them stay comfortable and clean. Make sure to wash this area gently as often as needed, and trim the hair around the eyes shorter to prevent infection and staining. To remove stains or mats from this area, wet the hair with warm water and gently run the end tooth of a small rake comb through the hair.
Maltese have sensitive teeth, so they will benefit from a weekly tooth-brushing. Make sure to feed them hard food or treats that they will have to chew on a regular basis to keep their teeth strong.