The Maltese dog or Maltese Lion Dog is a popular breed. Caring for this toy dog is not exactly easy. So here are tips and guides on how to care for a Maltese dog.
A Brief History
Even in ancient times, the Maltese dog was highly favoured by the Greeks and Romans of the past. Publius, a Roman governor on the island of Malta, owned a lap dog name Issa, who is speculated to be a Maltese Toy breed.
This story strengthens the legend that the Maltese dog originated in Malta, which is coincidentally the favourite country of Queen Elizabeth II.
A Guide to Maltese Dog Grooming
Are Maltese dogs low-maintenance?
No, they are not, as their pure white long hair needs extensive grooming to keep it neat and clean. Maltese dog owners also need to make sure that other grooming needs are met.
Here is a guide on how to groom your Maltese dog:
Brushing a Maltese dog’s coat
The white coats of Maltese dogs are low-shedding and hypoallergenic. This means they are good family dogs for homes with allergy sufferers. However, without proper grooming, their coats will become a tangled mess.
A Maltese dog’s coat that is full of mats can snare fleas, ticks, and bacteria, which can cause skin problems. For this reason, the dog’s long hair should be brushed 2–3 times a week.
Do not brush your Maltese dog’s coat whilst it’s dry. It can cause friction, which can damage his hair. Be sure to spritz it lightly with hydrating spray before you start brushing.
When combing the Maltese dog’s hair, use a metal comb or a pin brush to get rid of mats and tangles. Tease it apart gently to avoid hurting your pooch.
When combing your Maltese dog’s coat, pay attention to areas that are prone to matting. Take extra time in brushing his chest, armpits, front legs, stomach, and groin.
Do not forget to brush the fur on your Maltese dog’s legs and paws as well. If these areas are full of mats, it can affect your dog’s mobility and even cause skin problems such as sores.
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Trimming a Maltese dog’s coat
Grooming a long-haired Maltese dog can take a big chunk of your time. Consider keeping his coat short unless you want him to compete in dog shows.
Trimming your Maltese dog’s coat once every 6 weeks is advised. Let a professional groomer handle it if you are not confident in your hair clipping skills.
But before deciding to trim your Maltese dog hair short, note that there are pros and cons.
A Maltese dog with a short coat is easier to groom. On the downside, the length of his coat allows loose and dead hair to fall and stick all over your home.
Keeping your Maltese dog’s coat long traps in any loose hairs, which can be removed through brushing.
If you decided to trim your Maltese dog’s coat, opt for a puppy cut as it is neat-looking and requires less maintenance. Make sure to clip the hair on his sanitary areas. Faeces and urine residues usually stick on the fur surrounding these parts.
Bathing a Maltese dog
Maltese dogs require a bath once every 3 weeks. Always detangle your pooch’s coat before bathing him. Otherwise getting rid of mats and tangles will be even more difficult.
Another thing that you should do before bathing your Maltese dog is placing cotton balls in his ears. However, avoid shoving them deep inside his ears as they might be difficult to remove.
Only place it near each ear’s entrance. This prevents water from getting inside his ears, which can cause ear infections.
Use a dog-safe natural shampoo on your Maltese dog’s coat to avoid triggering skin irritation due to harmful chemicals. Lather his body except for the face for 3–5 minutes before completely rinsing it off.
If you opt to apply conditioner on your Maltese dogs’ coat after shampooing, make sure that it is free from heavy oils. Oily conditioners will make your dog’s coat greasy and his pores blocked with grease.
Go for a light hair conditioner for your Maltese dog that is packed with nutrients. Apply it from the roots to the tips of your dog’s hair. Leave it on for 3–5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
When washing your Maltese pooch’s face, use a small washcloth. It should be damp with clean bathwater. Wring the washcloth to remove excess water.
Start wiping away from your Maltese dog’s inner eye and underneath the eye. Proceed in cleaning the areas above the inner eye and over the eyebrows. Right after, carefully wash off the bathwater from your dog’s face.
Completely dry your furry Maltese friend by either using a bath towel or a blow-dryer. If you choose to use the latter, make sure that the blow-dryer is 5–6 inches away from your dog to avoid accidentally burning his skin.
Cleaning tear stains in a Maltese dog
Tear stains are a common occurrence in the Maltese dog breed. These are rusty-coloured gunk that accumulates on the corner of the eyes and sullies the cleanliness of his white hair.
To keep your Maltese pooch’s coat neat, tear stains should be cleaned daily. Preferably, it must be done 2–3 times a day after meals. A cotton ball that is damp with cooled boiled water will suffice in removing tear stains.
However, some Maltese dogs experience severe tear staining. It would be best to use a vet-recommended tear stain remover.
After cleaning all the gunk, make sure to dry off the area by using a dry clean cloth or a cotton ball. Do not leave it damp as it can lead to bacteria proliferation and eye infections.
Aside from the mentioned grooming to-dos for the Maltese dog breed, keep up with weekly ear cleaning and daily tooth brushing. Do not forget to clean his drop ears once a week too, as these are prone to ear infections.
6 Tips for Housebreaking a Maltese Dog
As a Toy breed, the Maltese dog is notoriously difficult to fully potty-train. It is one of the most common problems Maltese dog owners face when caring for their pooches.
Make your furry Maltese friend’s house training bearable with the help of these pointers:
Tip #1: Confine your Maltese dog in a playpen.
Limiting your Maltese pooch’s access inside the house is the first step towards smooth potty training. This dog breed tends to be claustrophobic. Thus, crate training is not an effective method to use.
Most Maltese dog owners recommended using playpens as a better alternative. Make sure that it comes with an easy access door so you can quickly take your furry buddy out for potty.
Maltese are prone to separation anxiety. So, place the playpen in an area where family members often stay, so that your pooch won’t feel lonely. Furnish the playpen with his toys and bedding to make it a comfortable and safe space for him.
Avoid letting your Maltese dog walk freely around the house until he is fully house-trained. Otherwise, you will have to deal with many potty accidents.
Tip #2: Follow a strict feeding schedule for your Maltese dog.
Regulating your Maltese dog’s food and water intake will help you figure out when he is likely to go out to go potty. Creating a feeding schedule will make this task manageable.
Be sure to consistently follow your Maltese dog’s set schedule to minimise the chances of potty accidents. A common error that Maltese dog owners do is leaving their pooches’ feeding and water bowls inside the playpen. Always remove them once Fido is done eating.
Tip #3: Place all needed items for Maltese dog potty training near the door.
When your Maltese dog needs to relieve himself, you need to act fast or he might do his business inside. Save time by readying items needed for housebreaking such as your shoes and dog treats near the door.
You can also shortly delay your Maltese dog’s need to eliminate by clapping your hands. This will temporarily distract him from relieving himself. Do this when he is showing signs that he needs to go potty.
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Tip #4: Take your Maltese dog out to go potty on a lead.
Toy breeds like the Maltese dog are frequently mistaken as prey by predatory animals because of their small size. Do not take any chances when walking your pooch outside to go potty. He should be on a retractable 6–8 feet lead.
Aside from that, always keep a close eye on your pooch, especially if he is a Maltese puppy. Full of curiosity and need to explore, he might try to scamper into dangerous places or ingest dangerous plants whilst outdoors.
Tip #5: Only have one potty area for your Maltese dog.
When outside, let your Maltese dog probe the place until he finds a suitable toilet area. The ideal potty spot is 3 meters (10 feet) away from the door.
Mind that it can take 1–15 minutes for Maltese puppies to pick a spot, so be patient. The area that he has chosen will be his only potty spot. Always clean it daily as if it is unsanitary and dirty, your pooch will refuse from relieving himself there again.
Small dogs like the Maltese are very sensitive to cold weather. They may have a hard time eliminating outside during winter or rainy seasons. Consider having an indoor litter tray or puppy pads around during these instances.
Tip #6: Use positive reinforcement during Maltese dog potty housebreaking.
What better way to encourage your Maltese dog to go potty than to give him rewards. Once he is done eliminating, give him treats.
Mind that most Maltese dogs are not entirely food-motivated. So it is a good idea to throw in some praises to make your pooch proud of his potty training progress.
House-training your Maltese dog is not without blunders. Potty accidents can happen along the way. Remember to be understanding and patient with your furry friend.
Do not lash out and punish your Maltese dog as it will instil fear in him. Instead, focus your energy on cleaning up the mess and think of ways to keep the potty accident from happening again.
3 Common Health Concerns in Maltese dogs
Healthwise, are Maltese dogs low-maintenance? No, so long as they are in good health. Knowing the most common health issues in the breed will help you set up precautionary measures to ward off breed-specific diseases.
Here are the prevalent health conditions found in Maltese dogs:
Toy breeds like the Maltese are extremely vulnerable to the sudden drop in blood sugar levels. This condition is known as hypoglycaemia. Maltese dogs weighing below 1.8 kilos (4 pounds) are highly at risk of this condition.
The insufficient blood sugar level in a Maltese dog’s body can hinder him from functioning properly. Without proper and immediate treatment, this can swiftly lead to a life-or-death condition for the affected pooch.
It commonly happens when a small dog like the Maltese is not fed enough dog food. Irregular mealtimes are also another factor that can cause this health problem.
Maltese dogs are finicky eaters. If your pooch is one, work with the vet to create delicious meals that will encourage him to eat.
Injury and Trauma
As a small dog, the Maltese breed has delicate bones that can easily break. Jumping off from high places or falling off the stairs can be extremely fatal for this Toy breed.
Maltese dog owners must keep a close eye on their vigorous dogs to keep them safe from accidents. It would be best to place baby gates on areas that can be potentially dangerous for him such as the doorway leading to the balcony, stairs, or swimming pool.
Rough handling can also cause bodily injuries and trauma in Maltese dogs. Thus, they are not a good choice as companion dogs for younger children. These small pooches are more fitting for older children who know how to handle their furry friends gently.
Congenital Portosystemic Shunt
It is an inborn disease due to a liver defect in Maltese dogs. It causes improper filtration of the blood cells. It dangerously allows toxins and waste to continue circulating in their body.
A congenital portosystemic shunt can result in the development of other health problems such as stunted growth, gastric problems, and seizures. Fortunately, if treated early, Maltese dogs with this condition can live long and normal lives.
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Dog lovers should look for responsible breeders that are recommended by the American Kennel Club as well as the UK Kennel club when in search of their ideal Maltese puppy.
Always check if their Maltese puppies and their breeding dogs are health-tested and have proper health documentation.
This guarantees that these Maltese dogs are bred with care, hence lessening their chances of inheriting breed-specific diseases like patellar luxation and shaker syndrome.
Adopting a Maltese pooch from a British or even an American Maltese rescue centre would also be a good idea. In this way, you will be giving a neglected, abandoned, or abused dog another chance to be in a loving and caring home.
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Caring for a Maltese puppy’s health does not end there. Once you brought him home, he should have regular vet check-ups to ensure that no health issues are plaguing him.