Maltese dogs are known for their flowing white coats, but such a beautiful and silky coat is not easy to manage. This breed needs extensive grooming to look its best. Regular bathing is a crucial part of that grooming, but only when done correctly.
When to Start
In general, dogs should not be bathed before they have opened their eyes. According to breeder Annamaria Maratona's website, Maltese puppies usually open their eyes at about 4 weeks old. The breeder starts bathing her puppies early so that they get used to regular bathing right away. If you are not sure if your puppy is ready for a bath, consult your veterinarian.
Tear and Beard Stains
The white fur of the Maltese can stain easily. Special care needs to be taken to prevent staining around the eyes and mouth of the dog. Dog Time suggests that you wash the eye and mouth area daily with a washcloth and warm water. During bath time, use a tear-free shampoo and massage the eye area and beard. You can also wash the ears while you are working on the face. Be very careful not to poke the eyes or get soap in the ears. Pinch the ears closed and rinse the fur of the face thoroughly before moving on to the body.
You should brush the body of your dog before you start the bath to make sure there are no mats in the fur. Using warm water, completely wet the body. Your puppy might be scared, so use a soft and reassuring voice to calm the dog. For the whitest, brightest coat, use a shampoo specifically for white dogs. After shampooing, use a silky-haired dog conditioner. Rinse the conditioner well and it will help keep the fur soft between baths.
Additional Bathing Information
If you keep your Maltese's fur long, you will need to wash it every week. Dogs with trimmed hair only need a bath every two weeks. During these baths, Maratona suggests that the owner should check his puppy's anal gland for blockages. “To check and clear the gland, hold the puppy's tail at the base, lift up the rear, take your thumb and your forefinger and place them above the puppy's anal area opening and below the tail base. Gently squeeze. If you feel a knot, this indicates there is a blockage,” says Maratona. To remove the blockage, squeeze gently. If your puppy seems in pain, or you are unsure of how to check the anal gland, consult your veterinarian.
- Funny doggie image by Alina Chiannie from Fotolia.com