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August 2001 | Subscribers: 6,808 | Issue No: 022 - 22nd Edition | 2001© All Rights Reserved

Maltese Only News
August 2001

Maltese Grooming Tips
....from the experts

GROOMING DOES MORE than keep your Maltese looking beautiful. It also keeps them healthier and happier.. Careful grooming keeps hair free of dirt, burrs, twigs and other foreign matter. It keeps the coat from matting so densely that no air can reach the skin. It helps prevent skin disease and infestation by external parasites, such as fleas, ticks and mites. The ideal time to accustom a long­haired Maltese to grooming is when he or she is young. It is important to proceed with patience and gentleness to show your dog that grooming is a pleasant experience, not something to dread. Keep the sessions short at first, 10 to 15 minutes at the most, and repeat them several times a week. This early attention will help ensure that as your Maltese matures and its grooming requires more time, he or she will stand quietly and enjoy the attention.

Grooming Tools

Your Maltese requires its own special brushing and grooming methods and grooming tools. Your breeder should have explained how much grooming is required and which tools are correct for the job. You don't need a lot of fancy equipment, but you do need the right kind of tools-a slicker brush, pin brush, and a comb. With these items, you can maintain even the longest of coats. Generally, a Maltese are best kept tangle-free with a pin brush. (Be aware that coat care will differ depending on whether the your Maltese is a pet or a show dog). For example, a wire slicker brush is inappropriate for a Maltese in show coat as the brush could break or damage the coat A pin brush is much more suitable. Pin brushes are best used for daily upkeep on tangle-free coats; they usually come in two sizes: large and small. A pin brush is suitable for use on a Maltese whose hair is not tangled. A metal comb with medium and fine teeth is suitable for use on most longhaired Maltese. Remember that combs are finishing tools; do not attempt to comb out a severely matted dog. If you do, you will undoubtedly hurt the dog and perhaps sour its attitude toward future grooming.

If your Maltese requires complicated trimming and you plan to do it yourself, you will need scissors, thinning shears, electric clippers or stripping tools. Such tools, however, can be rather dangerous in the hands of a beginner; do not try to clip, scissor or hand-strip your dog without proper guidance. To correctly brush your dog, place him on a firm surface: a steady table, for instance. If your dog is relaxed, he won't try to jump off, and your back won't ache at the end of the session.

Brushing Techniques

When brushing your Maltese, a basic technique is to brush small sections at a time. Part the hair to the skin, hold down the unbrushed coat with your free hand to separate it from the section that's being brushed, place your brush on the part line, and stroke outward with long and sweeping motions. When you separate the hair and cre­ate a part, you reach the undercoat. If you brush only the top of the coat, you'll miss the dirt, dead hair and tangles close to the skin. It's not a good idea to brush hair when it's dry; doing this causes static electricity and breakage. Before brushing, lightly mist the hair with a good coat conditioner. Conditioners not only make a brush pass through the hair more smoothly, they also eliminate dryness, help remove tangles and add shine to the hair, which will intensify the natural white coat color.

If you groom your Maltese two to three times a week, you should be able to prevent tangles from forming in the coat. If he or she isn't brushed regularly, tangles form quickly, especially during periods of dampness or humidity. Winter weather, too, is harsh on a Maltese in full coat they go outside in the snow and become soaking wet, their hair tends to mat if it is not brushed and dried soon after they come indoors. The longer the dog is neglected, the more matted the coat becomes. Never bathe a matted dog. Water only tightens tangles, and dematting is even more difficult after a bath. Be careful when using a wire slicker brush. If not used carefully, it can scratch your Maltese's skin.

Dealing With Maltese Mats

If mats have formed, here's how to deal with them. Saturate all matted clumps with a liquid tangle remover or a little baby oil to help loosen them. Allow several minutes for the lotion to lubricate the locked hair, then try to separate large mats into smaller sections that can be worked out more easily. Tease the smaller sections apart using your fingers, the end tooth of your comb or a special dematting comb, then brush out each small section. Go slowly; remember that your dog's comfort should be the first consideration. Keep breaking the mats into smaller and smaller sections and brushing the hair until tangle-free. In severe cases of neglect, where there is excessive matting, the humane solution may be to clip the coat short. Seek the advice of a professional groomer who can clip off the matted hair and shape whats left into a short attactive trim or "puppy-cut".

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