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How To Groom A Maltese

A Maltese is characterised by its long, white, straight, silky coat and for being a happy, active and eager breed. Single coated, it has hair rather than fur and is low-shedding, yet still requires a good grooming routine and regular brushing in order to prevent its coat from matting.

If you own a Maltese, home grooming is necessary in order to prevent its coat from matting and tangling. Even if you prefer to leave the bathing and clipping to the professionals, Maltese need care and attention and a good grooming routine between appointments, in order to keep their stunning coats in perfect condition. So how do you groom a Maltese from home? Whether you want to maintain a good grooming routine for your Maltese instead of taking it to the groomers, or you simply want to be able to care for it in the best way possible between appointments, here at Groomers, we have lots of useful tips to help you groom and care for your four-legged friend. 

From bathing through to ear and teeth care, we’ll help you choose the correct tools and teach the correct practices to keep your Maltese happy and healthy. Remember, if ever in doubt, always consult a professional groomer or vet for assistance (for ears and teeth), before trying out something new.

How to groom a Maltese at home

Maltese hair is prone to matting. Set time aside to brush and comb your dog at least every other day and if a mat does form, avoid tearing it out as this hair rarely ever grows back. Stubborn mats can be removed with careful clipping, but if you want to try and save the hair, soak the affected areas of the coat with conditioning lotion, then carefully pluck apart any mats and knots with your fingers. 

Prevention is better than cure in this case, and regular grooming with a metal comb is a great way to prevent further mats from forming. Take the comb and work through the hair in layers from the belly upwards, working on one side of the body at a time. Once the body is combed through, groom the tail in the same way, working from the tip towards the body. Finally, sit your Maltese in front of you and groom their face and beard, taking care around the eyes.


As Maltese require a lot of coat care, it’s important to establish a grooming routine for them at a young age to get them used to this necessary process. With the right encouragement and care, your Maltese will be easy to handle and willing to be groomed, making for calm and relaxing grooming sessions.

Start by placing your dog onto your portable grooming table or a hard, sturdy surface and use the ‘stand’ command to encourage it to always take this position whilst being handled. If your puppy is yet to learn this command, the grooming table is a great place to teach it, rewarding positive behaviour every time it responds. A calm and obedient dog is the best kind to groom, so taking time in the early stages to get it comfortable and accustomed to the practice is essential. Once your puppy is happy and comfortable on the grooming table, introduce it to a brush or comb and reward in the same way.


A Maltese’s brilliant white coat is one of its most standout features, yet surprisingly, while they should be groomed regularly, bathing is only required when it is very dirty. Overbathing your Maltese can negatively impact its skin and hair, removing natural oils and causing its skin to dry out.

If your Maltese needs a bath, we recommend using a gentle, dog-whitening shampoo to clean and enhance its beautiful coat.
Start by wetting the coat thoroughly using a shower head, hose or a jug, then dilute the shampoo as directed, ready for use. Massage your diluted shampoo into your dog’s wet coat, then leave the formula for a few minutes so that its hair can absorb the oils. Rinse thoroughly to prevent skin irritation avoiding contact with the eyes and ears.
To dry, wrap your dog in a towel to remove any moisture held in its coat, then finish with a dog hair dryer on a warm heat setting.


Although we’ve already touched on grooming your Maltese’s coat, you probably want to invest in both a pin brush and a slicker brush to stay on top of its grooming regime. Start by working the pin brush down through your dog’s coat, working in the direction of the hair’s natural growth.

A pin brush is a great tool for removing tangles and straightening the coat without it getting caught, or creating new tangles. Follow with your slicker brush, which should glide through the hair with ease, giving a smooth finish. Always use a detangle spray before brushing to prevent split ends and breakages from occurring.


Taking care of your Maltese’s feet is a big part of their grooming routine. Light-footed dogs, their nails won’t wear down properly through walking alone so their toenails will need regular clipping. If in doubt, this is something that your groomer or vet will be able to help with, but if you’re planning to clip the nails yourself, there are some things to bear in mind:

  • Nails should be level with the outline of the paw and should be clipped from underneath towards the pad rather than from the front.
  • Use nail clippers taking care to avoid the quick (the vein that runs down the inside of each nail), which if caught can be painful for your dog and can cause bleeding. The quick should be relatively easy to spot in light coloured nails but dark coloured nails sometimes make this impossible. If in doubt, remove a small amount of the nail and use Trimmex if any blood flow should occur. If you’re worried about using clippers, a nail file or grinder can be just as effective.
  • Remember to also trim the dewclaw to prevent it from sticking into your dog’s leg.
  • Once the nails are cut, trim the hair between the pads with grooming scissors, taking care not to nick the paw pads.


Ear care is essential for your Maltese, as plucking or cutting the hair growing inside its ears prevents them from being clogged with wax. Don’t use cotton buds to clean your dog’s ears, as this can push wax and dirt deeper into the ear canal, causing infections and potential damage to the eardrum. The best way to clean the ears is to apply drops of liquid ear cleaning solution into each ear and massage, to loosen deposits of ear wax and dirt. The outer ear can then be cleaned with cotton wool. If you notice your Maltese shaking his head or scratching his ears more frequently than normal, take it to the vets for a check-up appointment.


Establishing good teeth care for your dog can prevent them from having problems in later life. Tartar from food particles and calcium salts in saliva can be a problem for both young and older dogs, which brushing regularly with a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste can prevent. For more persistent staining, tartar or any tooth and gum problems, always consult your vet.


Maltese dogs with longer cut coats should have a full brush out at least two to three times a week and routine baths every three weeks. If your Maltese is trimmed shorter, brushing may be reduced to once a week, but it’s still necessary to regularly check the coat for any matting and tangling. Show dogs may need to be bathed and groomed more frequently to healthily maintain their longer coats.


As a Maltese is a single-coated dog it can be shaved without any adverse effects for its future hair growth. Whether you opt for a full shave or keep the hair longer on the face and lower legs for an elegant, flared look, shaving is a great choice if you want to prevent any brushing or tangling issues from occurring. It is worth mentioning though that as a Maltese is a breed that commonly gets chilled, your dog may have problems regulating its body temperature when its fur is removed, so you may need to invest in a coat, blanket and jumper to keep them warm during the colder seasons.