The Maltese's luxurious, long locks are beautiful when they're clean and brushed, but keeping them looking nice can be challenging. Regular grooming sessions keep a Maltese's hair white, but you must bathe her the right way to prevent damaging her coat.
Clean But Not Over-Clean
The rule of thumb for the Maltese and many other breeds is to wash only when she needs it. But a variety of circumstances can affect bathing frequency. Her coat length and daily habits are the major factors. The longer her hair is and the more active she is, the faster her coat will become dirty. A playful long-hair Maltese may require a weekly bath, whereas a less active pooch with shorter hair may need one every other month or so. Don't set a bath schedule in stone. If she doesn't need a bath right when the calendar says she does, put it off a bit. You bathe her to get her clean. You wouldn't wash a clean car just because the schedule says so, would you? Wash her whenever she needs it but not more than once a week.
Gentle But Thorough
Vetstreet.com explains that how often you bathe your Maltese shouldn't affect her coat condition, but how you wash her very well could. Every bath and shampoo strips your pooch of her natural oils, which help protect her skin and hair. Gentle, high-quality dog shampoos remove dirt from her coat but won't dry her skin and hair in the process. Wet her completely to the skin and massage the shampoo into her coat. Pay special attention to the privates and the bottoms of her feet. Work up a good lather, getting every part of her coat all the way down to the skin. Rinse thoroughly, and don't skimp on the water. If any shampoo is left, it will dry and irritate her skin. Shampoo again if she's particularly dirty, or use a white brightening shampoo to brighten her coat.
To control frizz and those annoying little flyaway hairs, apply a quality dog conditioner to your Maltese once the shampoo's all rinsed away. Work it through her entire coat and let it sit for a few minutes to help prevent dry skin and hair. Rinse thoroughly, as dried conditioner will cause skin irritation just as easily as dried shampoo. A quality conditioner helps to prevent tangles and knots as you brush her out afterward.
Unlike many dog breeds, you can't just pull your Maltese out of the tub and let her air-dry. Doing so would make the coat limp and dull. Instead, squeeze the excess water out of her hair before using a towel to absorb the rest. Brush her hair straight and smooth as you blow her dry using a hair dryer on a low-heat setting. Work in small sections, keeping the dryer moving so you don't inadvertently burn or dry her skin. Spray a detangler onto her coat as you go to help promote smooth, healthy hair and keep her tangle-free.
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