The Maltese is a toy breed known for long and flowing white locks. As cute as these dogs are in their natural state, a short haircut on the Maltese is just as adorable -- not to mention it makes maintenance easier.
The American Kennel Club standard for the Maltese coat is to not cut it at all. Show dogs must have their long coats intact, clean, thoroughly brushed out and detangled. If you plan to show your dog, be warned that a haircut -- which as far as the AKC is concerned is anything above floor level -- could disqualify your dog. Maintaining a show-quality coat is a lot of work, though, so if you have no plans to show your dog, a short haircut is easier to maintain and is more comfortable for your dog.
The puppy cut works as well for adult dogs as it does for puppies. For the puppy cut, the hair is clipped the same length all over the body, face, ears and tail. The length is up to the owner, but it's generally kept somewhere between a quarter-inch and 1 inch. Going shorter than a quarter-inch is not recommended, as this would make the dog vulnerable to sunburn and bug bites; you also run the risk that hair clipped too short won't grow back properly.
Teddy Bear Cut
The teddy bear cut is a cross between a standard cocker spaniel cut and a Maltese puppy cut. For this style, the back and side hair is trimmed to a quarter-inch, but the hair is left longer everywhere else. How much longer is up to the owner. The face is trimmed to be round and full, resembling a teddy bear, with the hair on top of the head left long enough to be pulled into a topknot if desired.
Maltese Short Cut
The Maltese short cut is a bit more complex and resembles something you might see on a poodle or bichon frise. For this cut, the back and sides are clipped to 1/4 inch from the bottom of the skull to the beginning of the tail, leaving an arch over the shoulders and back leg haunches. The stomach, the chest, the front of the neck and the butt are trimmed close, to about a sixteenth-inch. Leg hair is trimmed to about 1.5 inches for a fuller look. The muzzle is kept about three-quarters-inch long, with the hair on top of the head rounded like a mushroom cap. Finally, the ears are trimmed into a bob, even with the bottom of the head, and the tail is left with a fringe about 2 inches long.
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.