A long-haired Maltese who has gone even a day or so without a good brushing is a matted Maltese. Removing the mats can be moderately challenging, especially if your pal has gone significantly longer than a day. Once they're out, though, it's easy to troubleshoot them before they form again.
Spray your pup's hair with dog coat conditioner. Do not use human conditioner; it will mess up her 'do. Get a good spritz over her entire coat, but soak the matted areas as thoroughly as possible.
Brush out your pup's mat-free fur with the slicker or pin brush. Isolate the matted areas so you can clearly see what you're doing and where the problems are. The steps you'll use will depend on the stubbornness of your Maltie's knots. You may be able to remove the knots with just your fingers and some elbow grease, or you may have to take the nuclear option, and cut through the worst mats.
Work each mat out with your fingers, beginning with the end farthest from your pup's skin, adding conditioner as needed. You may need to stabilize the mat close to the skin with one hand and work on it with the other. Go slow, stay calm and watch your pal for signs of discomfort -- pulling or tearing at the hair can be very painful to her.
Work the very end of your metal comb into stubborn mats, and wiggle it to loosen the hairs, beginning with the edge farthest from your pet's body and working your way in. Hold the comb perpendicular to your buddy -- you'll only be using one or two of the thicker teeth on the very end. This is a slow, challenging process. Don't rush it, or you'll tangle her hair even more. Add conditioner as necessary.
Insert the dematting blade into the mat in increments of about one centimeter, beginning at the outer edge. Saw the blades through the matted hair toward you. As a last resort, you may have to cut up the center of the knots with scissors, and work the dematting blade through each piece separately.
Spray your pup's dematted areas with the conditioner, comb them thoroughly, and go over her entire coat one more time with the slicker or pin brush.
- Daily brushing will keep your Maltie mat-free. If you're adopting a very neglected doggy with a ton of mats, you may want to have her shaved by a professional groomer and start over from scratch. This will also allow you and your vet to clearly see any underlying skin and coat issues.
- Mat removal is often difficult and frustrating, but never yank or force a mat -- this can damage your Maltie's sensitive skin, and it hurts her, to boot. If your pal has any skin issues that don't clear up with regular grooming, take her to your vet. Some serious problems, including mange, start off looking like a minor irritation.
Angela Libal began writing professionally in 2005. She has published several books, specializing in zoology and animal husbandry. Libal holds a degree in behavioral science: animal science from Moorpark College, a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College and is a graduate student in cryptozoology.