The Maltese is a beautiful little toy breed. Anyone who has become acquainted with a well-bred, quality member of this breed has a respect and affection for their attributes and history. This spiritedly little breed is very intelligent, sensitive and responsive. Most of all, they are extremely loving. To keep this little dog in good physical health and well groomed, the owner of this most unique little one must be willing to devote some time daily tending to his basic needs. The following information will touch briefly on the most basic care for a happy pet. The show Maltese needs much more coat care, lead training, etc. than is listed here and for that you should seek the help you need from either me or a professional handler. Most grooming shops do not know how to properly care for or groom a show Maltese.
Vaccinations – Your puppy should receive a series of shots while he is still very young and will need boosters every few years to keep him immune from the many infectious diseases that are often fatal. It is wise not to purchase your puppy until he is at least 10-12 weeks old and has already had at least one shot protecting him from distemper, hepatitis, and the parvo virus. He will need a series of at least two to three more of these inoculations given 3 weeks apart. DO NOT have a rabies shot given at the same time as the other inoculations. It is best to wait at least two months after the combined shots before giving the rabies serum. Also, do not place your puppy on the ground in public areas until they have received their full series of puppy shots.
Teeth of toy dogs are often a problem and should be cleaned regularly. Teeth of mature dogs must be kept free of tarter, which destroys gums and teeth prematurely and can cause other heath related problems. Accustom your Maltese to dry kibble and the various hard biscuits, which will aid in preventing tarter. Mix equal parts of baking soda and salt, dip a Q-Tip in water and into the mixture. Rub over teeth and gums to help eliminate tartar and keep gums healthy. Specially formulated pet toothpaste and brushes are also available from your veterinarian or pet store. Professional teeth cleaning should be done annually by your veterinarian. The pet is anesthetized for this procedure, which always carries some risk. Between the professional annual cleaning by your veterinarian, cleaning can be done by you with a dental scraper, but ask your veterinarian or dentist to show you how to use it properly.
Ears – For protection from infection, ear mites, etc., ears should be kept clean and free of excess hair on which ear wax can gather. Place ear powder in each ear. It is not only an antiseptic, but it also helps to deaden the feeling. Plucking the hair can be done by using a hemostat or eyebrow tweezers, but preferably, use your thumb and forefinger and grasp a few hairs and pluck them out. Place a drop or two of oil in each ear once a week to guard against ear canker.
Toe Nails need to be kept closely clipped at all times. They should be clipped just after a bath while the nails are soft. Clip just at the clear ends of the nail and do not clip into “quick” which is the pink area in the nail as this is painful for the dog. Don’t forget the dew claws on the inside front paws if they haven’t been removed. If you are afraid to do this, a quick trip to your veterinarian or local groomer will be able to show you. It’s a very easy task. Hair on the bottom of the foot pads should also be trimmed off to insure good footing.
Facial Staining – All dogs tear, but the Maltese with its white hair will sometimes stain to a reddish-brown if not tended to. To prevent these unsightly stains, you must pay particular attention to the eyes and face. If the eyes are crusty looking or have a yellowish or green discharge, you must take him to the veterinarian as this is a sign of infection. If it’s merely an excess of tears, simply use a flea comb to clean away the “sleep” that forms in the corner of the eyes wash his face everyday. Keep a bottle of baby shampoo (non-tearing) mixed half and half with water, or use the waterless shampoo. Soak a cotton ball with the diluted shampoo and wipe the hair under the eyes and on the muzzle daily. Pack the under eye hair with cornstarch or baby cornstarch powder. Putting Boric Acid powder on the stained areas also helps to lighten the staining. Keep anything you put on their facial hair away from the eyes, nostrils, and the areas they can reach with their tongue. Hair hanging over the eyes will cause irritation and cause excessive tearing. Keeping this hair tied up and away from the eyes will help to keep tearing at a minimal. Teething also causes excessive tearing. Stay away from foods with a lot of dye in them.
Miracle Goop – For unsightly eye-stain, mix equal parts cornstarch, milk of magnesia and medicinal 1% peroxide into a paste. Apply mixture to eye stained hair everyday. After the mixture has dried, which takes a couple of hours, crumble it out very carefully to avoid breaking the hair. You can use a hair conditioner to soften the mixture to remove it easier. Comb facial hair then apply more Miracle Goop. Every couple of days, apply a hair conditioner such as Wella Kyolestral, to condition the hair and keep it from drying out. This method will remove most stains within 10 days, stubborn stains may take longer. (Store the mixture in a covered jar, leaving approximately 2 inches head space.)
Topknots – With a little practice you will learn how to put in topknots. You can either adorn your Maltese with one or the double topknots seen on “show” dogs. To begin, you will need one or two small pieces of wax paper, nylon tulle or the end papers used in home permanents. Using any of these items, cut 2 pieces about 1 inch by 1-1/2 inches for the double topknots. For a single topknot the piece should be about 1-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches. You will also need 1/8 or 1/4 inch latex bands. These rubber bands can be purchased from some pet product catalogs or online. Using a comb, part the hair from the outer corner of each eye toward the top of the head. Then part the hair again from part to part, one side to the other. Take this section of hair and part it evenly between the eyes using the bridge of the nose as a center-point. For a single topknot, follow the above directions except do not part the section between the eyes. Wrap the section(s) of hair at the base of the head with the paper (keeping the ends of the paper in the back), secure the paper with one of the bands, then fold the paper wrapped section toward the back of the head and secure the fold with a second rubber band and adorn with a bow. When doing two topknots, be sure they are both the same size and positioned directly in line with each other. With a little practice and patience, you will soon master the art of topknots.
Worming should be left to the veterinarian. An annual fecal examination can determine if or what type of worming is needed and correct medication prescribed.
Attention – Check regularly for excretions caught in the hair just under the anus. Excretions caught in this hair, especially in puppies, can completely block elimination and even cause death. If stool is caught in the hair you can quickly rinse it away in the laundry tub. You may also choose to trim the hair just around the anus to help prevent your Maltese from having this problem. A healthy stool is firm and not too dark in color, thus indicating a good diet and digestive system.
External Pests, such as fleas, lice and ticks, can make your pet sick, miserable and ruin his coat. Advantage works very well and can be purchased from you veterinarian. Ticks must be picked off. When removing ticks, apply alcohol to the tick and remove it with tweezers.
General Health – Sunlight is good for overall health. All dogs need to go outside daily for fresh air. Once your puppy has received their full series of puppy shots a walk around the block on the leash with a harness will give them the needed daily outside exercise. CAUTION must be taken as the Maltese is such a friendly and fearless little dog, he could be seriously hurt by another dog that is not so friendly.
THE MALTESE COAT
The Maltese coat is easy to care for needing only daily brushing to keep it in top condition. The dogs have three coats in their lifetime: a puppy coat, which they keep until about 1 year of age, a young adult coat and then a mature coat.
The coat needs to be brushed completely to the skin with a wire pin brush (no balls on the tips of the pins) in which the pins are set in rubber. First, spray the coat with a leave-in detangler or distilled water. Brush through the coat thoroughly, then comb with a metal comb, paying special attention to the feet, under the legs and behind the ears. Washing around the eyes daily will help keep dark stains from forming.
The coat must be thoroughly groomed, with all mats removed, before bathing. Mats that become wet and then dry can never be combed out without damaging the coat. Bathe with a mild soap and rinse well. Remove as much water as possible with towels, and then blow dry, brushing the coat until the coat is completely dry. Snarls can be removed while the coat is wet that can never be gotten out after it dries. Cornmeal rubbed into the coat and brushed out completely will help clean between baths.